Originally published on Advocate.com December 19 2003 12:00 AM ET
Organizers of a national gay pageant are moving the event out of Hagerstown, Md., citing local opposition that included antigay comments made last month by Mayor William M. Breichner, The [Hagerstown] Herald-Mail reports. "We really didn't think it would turn out to be a big hassle, but it turned out to be," said A. J. Makibbin of York, Pa., administrator of the Miss Gay American National 2004 pageant. "We don't need all that attention drawn to us." The female impersonators contest had been scheduled for January 10 at the Clarion Hotel. But the event was postponed last month after problems arose during negotiations with the hotel. Makibbin said Tuesday that he and other organizers have decided to delay the pageant until 2005 and hold it in south-central Pennsylvania instead of Hagerstown.
Last month Breichner offended pageant organizers when he likened the event to a hobo convention and a Ku Klux Klan rally, adding, "I don't know if that's what we need here." Breichner later softened his stance, saying he was worried about protesters and not the people taking part in the pageant. Nevertheless, Makibbin said his group will look elsewhere for a venue for the event, which he said could have attracted up to 1,800 people.