Katalena Davenport Depree walked into the Lake Worth Playhouse Monday night as one of many drag queens in Palm Beach County. She walked out as the only 2019 Miss Palm Beach Pride.
This year’s Miss Palm Beach Pride Pageant featured five glamorous contestants battling for the distinguished title and was hosted by two of the county’s most well known queens —Velvet Lenore and Melissa St. John.
Depree didn’t just earn a crown and bouquet — she also earned the role as a Compass Community Center ambassador, where she will be involved with several advocacy events.
“I want to make sure everyone in the world fears nothing when it comes to us [the LGBT community],” Depree said during the competition. “What better way to represent Palm Beach than Miss Palm Beach Pride?”
The nearly-filled theater got to savor four categories of competition: presentation, evening gown, question and answer, and talent — on top of performances from Lenore, St. John, Tayanna Love, Midwest All-American Gent 2018 Antonio Edwards and more. This was the event’s fourth anniversary.
Depree wasn’t the only winner of the night. Lenore and St. John handed out two awards of their own.
They awarded last year’s Miss Palm Beach Pride, Rianna Petrone, the Betty James Trailblazer Award, which is named after one of the first openly lesbian mayors in Palm Beach County. After, the Lake Worth Playhouse won the Miss Palm Beach Pride Service Award.
"We were thrilled to learn that we were awarded," Lake Worth Playhouse Executive Director Stephanie Smith said. "It is important to nurture good relations within the community - it makes us all stronger."
Nearly all of the contestants admitted that it was a nerve-wracking night during the question and answer portion. But through the jitters, they still managed to spread positive messages to the LGBT community.
“I am a young trans woman,” one contestant, Adelaide Queen said. “It’s my place to show the way for other trans women.”
Lenore also shared her own insights on what pride means, and paid homage to her own drag community that she said consisted of over 50 people.
“Family is not who you were born to, it’s who you surround yourself with… ” she said. “Nobody should ever tell you who you should be.”
Perhaps the most electric category of the three-hour competition was the talent portion. Some contestants and entertainers hopped off the stage and marched up and down the theater aisles; others ditched their footing to woo the judges with backflips and high kicks.
On top of their lively performances, their presentation gowns, meant to represent their passions and favorite color, were also powerful odes to pride.
Lupita Hollywood sported a shimmering red gown with an attached massive peacock-like set of feathers.
Hollywood mentioned later that Compass “helped me to be the person I am today.” Compass will receive a percentage of the event’s earnings — namely for their upcoming events like Palm Beach Pride, Youth Equality Prom and the Stonewall Black and White Ball.
There was no shortage of people handing the queens dollar bills for their performances. “It’s not about the money, it’s about the people you make smile,” Lenore joked.
“It’s been a journey,” Depree said after her victory. “I feel so overwhelmed… I finally get to make my mark.”
Here are all the category winners from Monday night:
- Presentation: Lupita Hollywood
- Evening gown: Katalena Davenport Depree
- Question and answer: Katalena Davenport Depree and Lupita Hollywood (tie)
- Talent: Katalena Davenport Depree
- Second runner up: Lupita Hollywood
- First runner up: Adelaide Queen
- Miss Palm Beach Pride: Katalena Davenport Depree