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born September 18, 1975

For those that may not know, I’m Janice Toy, mother of the House of History. Before that I was a activist, a entertainer and most of all a loving wife. My stage name was Janice Colby. I won pageants all over Milwaukee, throughout the state and other states as well. In 2002 I was the first Black/Fat/Miss PrideFest ever. Three achievements in one, I won. How you doing lol. I proved big girls didn’t have to compete just in plus-size pageants. We are just as beautiful, just as graceful, just as talented as the skinny girls. I used to do Jennifer Holliday songs and one time even got to perform with her here in Milwaukee. I also had the opportunity to perform for Grace Jones at Barbie Dolls, one of the Black bars. Black bars was different than the south side bars. There was more people of color, and more of us got to perform, and there was a lot of music we could relate to, even Gospel music.

When I was in show choir at North Division, we performed all over: Apollo Theater, Carnegie Hall, even the White House. I went to college on a full scholarship because I was in the top 10% of my class. At college I first met other people that was trans and started performing as a woman. My first time on stage was in a pageant, which I won (Miss Memphis At-Large). I started my transition at 17 and changed my name legally when I was 19. In my early 20s I became one of the founding members of SHEBA. After dating for some years, I married the man of my dreams on October 4, 2014. Anthony was sooo tall and handsome and guess what? Now he my husband, and we been together every day since. 

My mother was very loving. Very supportive of me and my friends. A lot of people that’s gay don’t get that. I’ve been opening my home to other girls and other gays for a long time. I wanted them to experience the same kind of family love I had. While still living in their truth. My mom wanted that for me and I want it for others. She would say, “Come in, get a plate and don’t be a stranger.” You didn't even have to put on your good wig, just be yourself. All was welcome.

Janice Toy

Illustration by Intan Zulkifli

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