By Donalevan Maines
There she is, Mrs. Harris County Plus America 2017. LGBT Houston’s new queen on the block is Aisha Stewart, an out, proud, curvy wife and mother whose mission is to help Hatch Youth (hatchyouth.org). The group, which was formed in 1987, is a program of The Montrose Center, where Stewart will host a community fundraiser, “Cocktails for a Cause,” this month.
Entry is free with the donation of a hygiene product for the Hatch Youth group or a non-perishable food item, which will stock The Montrose Center’s food pantry, says Stewart.
Saturday’s mixer event is a prelude to Stewart stepping out next month in the Mrs. Texas Plus America 2017 pageant in Arlington. “I have always wanted to do pageantry, but I never fit the criteria,” says Stewart, who is 28. However, when she met Miss Plus America at a holiday event last December, the visiting queen told Stewart about a specific competition in her pageant system that’s only for married women who are curvy.
“I jumped right in,” says Stewart.
Per its website at misstxplusamerica.com, “Texas Plus America promotes confidence, civic action, and servant leadership. We aim to provide women an opportunity to expand their ministry by serving their local, state, and global community as a Texas Plus America titleholder.”
Stewart grew up in Houston’s Third Ward neighborhood. At 16, she became pregnant with her first daughter. “I had good grades but bad attendance,” she says, so Stewart was sent to a community learning center, where she could juggle academics with time off to care for her child, and graduate with a high school diploma.
“My second child was me feeling alienated from the rest of my family, so I dated again, and ended up getting pregnant again,” she explains.
However, before her second child was born in 2009, Stewart says, “I accepted who I am. I told my family, ‘Either like it or don’t, because—guess what?—I love myself.’ Some, for a while, didn’t talk to me, but eventually they all came around to say, ‘She’s family, so we love her.’ And everyone loves my wife!”
Aisha and Sarah Stewart met at a club for lesbians in Houston on New Year’s Eve 2012, where they exchanged phone numbers.
Their first outing was to a Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor, followed by “our first official date,” which was to a birthday party at a hotel in Houston. “We were engaged on my birthday, May 29,” says Aisha. “We were married on New Year’s Eve 2013.”
About her foray into pageantry, Aisha says her wife “loves me being arm candy.”
“The wife,” Sarah Stewart, is a caterer. In contrast to Aisha’s love for formal wear, Sarah is “training to be a boxer.”
“I think the pageant is a great venture,” says Sarah, referring to Aisha’s work to empower lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, and allied (LGBTQIA) youth, ages 13–20. “I like that Aisha is driven to make a change in the treatment, care, and safety of the LGBTQIA youth of Houston. She is a curvy woman who embraces herself and others.”
Aisha works as a resident assistant at Brookdale The Woodlands, a senior assisted-living and memory-care community in Spring.
“When I was coming up, if I had known that Hatch existed, a lot of things in my life would have been different, as far as my young lesbian journey,” says Aisha.
She will attend “pageant boot camp” on March 11, in preparation for private interviews and onstage presentations at the state finals March 25–26 at Crowne Plaza Suites-Arlington. Winners of the state Miss, Ms., and Mrs. competitions will advance to a national pageant in July. Among the requirements in the Mrs. Pageant, a delegate must be married by March 1, 2017, and wear a size 14W or measure 42.5 inches in the hips.
Aisha predicts that her status as a lesbian Mrs. will be a non-issue at the state pageant. “I don’t believe me being a married gay woman will affect the judges’ view of me,” she says. “I will represent the Texas Plus Pageant with grace, dignity, and passion.”
For further information, visit theroyalreign.com.
What: “Cocktails for a Cause”
When: Saturday, February 18, 6–9:30 p.m.
Where: The Montrose Center, 401 Branard St.
Donalevan Maines is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.