For the Telegraph, I covered the Miss You Can Do It Pageant: "No Tantrums, Just Tiaras." The terrific portraits are by Tealia Ellis Ritter. I had a great time traveling to Kewanee, Illinois, to meet the girls and get to know them backstage at the pageant.
"Pete Santee, who works at a casino in Rock Island, Illinois ('When you hit a jackpot, I’m the guy who comes over and pays you'), is back for the third time with Shya Hughes, 18, the daughter of a friend, Dina Severtsgaard. He is gay and Shya is autistic, and when they first met eight years ago they clicked, he says.
'Shya recognised a difference. She knew, "Pete’s different, and I’m different," and we just connected right away, and it’s been a father-daughter love story ever since. We’re like the Will & Grace of Iowa,' he adds. 'Straight mom. Gay best friend. And Shya’s the autistic daughter.'"