FeaturesThe Love Issue

Sharing the Crown

Grayson and Kerry Chandler are the first trans couple to run a national pageantry system.

Grayson (l) and Kerry Chandler (Photo by Vizal Tio Lavoie)

“When in doubt, just try it out.” That sage wisdom was what helped nudge Galveston power couple Kerry and Grayson Chandler to pursue each other eight years ago.

Kerry, also known by her stage name Kymber DeVine, recalls the fateful night when the two met. She was booked for a drag show in Louisiana, and Grayson was in attendance. Grayson approached Kerry during the show, and the sparks immediately flew. Well… almost.

“I toyed back and forth with the thought of a relationship because Grayson had not started transitioning yet, and [dating someone during the transition process] was something that I had never even thought about or considered,” Kerry says.

She spoke with her castmate DeyJzah Opulent Mirage, who offered that timeless advice to be fearless.

“DeyJzah said, ‘Sis, just do it. What do you have to lose? What has any genetic man ever done for you but leave you heartbroken?’” Kerry recalls.

And that, as they say, was that. Kerry and Grayson entered their relationship and never looked back. In fact, their love has only grown since then, as has their success.

The two recently became owners of the National Showgirl and Showman Pageantry System, which provides a platform for drag performers to compete for a crown and the opportunity to represent the system both in Texas and across the United States.

One of the pageant events provided an unforgettable moment in the couple’s courtship. “Having Grayson support me through competing in seven national pageants, and then finally having him there the night I won my first national pageant, was one of my most favorite moments of our relationship,” she says. “We busted our behinds so much through the years to be able to afford that, and we finally got to have that moment together.”

Pageant winner Kerry Chandler (as Kymber DeVine, second from right) with her husband, Grayson (center); her drag mother, Teryl-Lynn Foxx (r); and drag daughters Amya Jackson Ross (l) and Cyn City.

The work paid off, and the two have set out to broaden the reach of their pageant system. They have made it a goal for the pageants to be as inclusive as their love for one another.

“We are the first trans couple to run a national pageantry system, and we did change the system. It is all-inclusive now,” Grayson notes. “However you choose to present yourself on stage is [the category] you can perform and compete in. Last year was the first year that we crowned a nonbinary person in the Showman division.”

The call to create an inclusive atmosphere was one that the Chandler family felt was a necessity.

“When we took over the system, we moved it a step further and opened it to everybody. Our community is so divided, [so not everyone wants that openness]. Yet, we always talk about wanting everybody to be included. We thought we could make a small change and make our system the first system to [be so open],” Grayson adds.

The duo is now looking to broaden their outreach further by encouraging persons with functional disabilities to enter the pageant competitions.

“There’s lots of people with disabilities and challenges who can show out on stage. They should be allowed to do so, and we’re trying to make it so everybody has a place,” Grayson says.

That passion for inclusiveness is evident not just in the Chandlers’ aspirations for the pageant system, but also in their relationship.

“Both of us have gone through big life changes since we’ve been together,” Kerry mentions. “Both of us support each other in our endeavors. [The trick is] finding the right person who is going to support your dreams, no matter what. We found that with each other.”

And their other trick? Communication.

“We talk about everything. Communication is ultimately the key. If we’re not communicating, then situations can become frustrating. [But if we can] sit down, talk it out, and figure out what’s going on, we can keep moving forward. Communication is what keeps us grounded,” Grayson emphasizes. “Communication has always been central since the beginning, but now that we are both running businesses and pageants and the everyday dealings of life, it’s become even more important. We have to be that backbone for each other, keep our lines of communication open, and keep pushing each other forward.”

They also want to encourage others to take a chance on love by reminding them that a dash of bravery never hurts.

“Always live your life with an open heart. That’s the only advice I can give when it comes to that, because you can’t be worried about what everybody else thinks,” Kerry says.

The Chandler family’s record of success stands as the best antidote to the naysayers. And best of all, it’s clear that Galveston’s it couple is still as madly in love with each other as when they first met.

For pageant information, visit facebook.com/NationalShowgirlShowmanPageantrySystem.

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Sam Byrd

Sam Byrd is a freelance contributor to Outsmart who loves to take in all of Houston’s sights, sounds, food and fun. He also loves helping others to discover Houston’s rich culture. Speaking of Houston, he's never heard a Whitney Houston song he didn't like.
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