Dark Eyed Texas Icon

The Texas Story Project.

"What would you change if you had to go back and change anything at all and what advice would you give to those who look up to you?", asked Rosendo Ramirez, LGBTQ member of the audience community icon education day. Candy Richardz then replied, "That's a great question, however, I would not change anything about my past because then I would not be here today in front of all of you beautiful people telling my story. My advice would be to stay humble, stay true to your values, and never change who you are for someone else."

Without skipping a beat and spoken like the true icon Candy Richardz is, her humble roots come from West Texas, a town we all know and have heard on the radio—El Paso—surrounded by gorgeous mountains and scenic beauty. Her father was a US Marine and of Irish roots and her mother of French Hispanic roots in a primarily Catholic upbringing with three younger brothers. Candy knew she was different from a very young age spanning back to one Halloween where her grandmother who is very supportive asked, "What would you like to be for Halloween, Candy?" then answered "A girl."

Her family was lower-income and lived primarily through government assistance, so money was not something easily found to splurge. However, her grandmother managed to scrape together what she could and went to Goodwill, found a wig, an outfit, and heels and did not ask questions. Her family's core values and something they believe strongly in is to encourage, even if it means to go without to see their children smile because they knew even though life was hard, it shouldn't be seen or felt by anyone's children. This was only the beginning. She at this age did not know what or who she was yet and her family allowed her to make her own decisions and choices as far as identity.

It was at age 14 that she got the courage together to realize her identity simply by watching MTV's Real World San Francisco. It was the iconic cast and appearance she took to and one very special member on the series known as Pedro Zamora. This beloved star passed away shortly after, but not before inspiring Candy Richardz, Pedro instilled courage, dignity, LGBTQ current education at the time, and manifested the willpower to tell her mother she was gay. At 16, Candy discovered Lambda Youth. She started to grow with other young LGBTQ members and her grandmother stepped up to not only be a loving supporting role model but she also took the role of dad, mom, sister, and aunt to all of the LGBTQ youth. She decorated the car and marched with the group for their first gay pride parade.

After high school, she traveled with others all around the US but nothing ever felt more clear than to come back home to her roots. In 1999, she took her first steps in Dallas, Texas's iconic Rose Room Thursday night amateur contest. Candy said she remembered it quite fondly as if it were yesterday because it was the year that at midnight every gay bar up and down Cedar Springs Road was playing Prince's hit song 1999 and nowhere had there been that kind of excitement in any atmosphere. Candy was awarded her first title of Miss Gay Texas America in 2002. She got the courage to go on national television in 2002 for her first of many future episodes on the iconic NBC hit daytime television show Jerry Springer. In 2005, her love for makeup took its own path as she applied for MAC Cosmetics and again her grandmother was there for that as well as the model for her day and night makeup look. It was then her career took off as a professional makeup artist spanning 20 years plus including her professional 20 plus year drag career as an entertainment director, show director, host, emcee, DJ, co-host, and that's just to name a few.

In 2017 after a failed 5-year relationship, Candy was faced at a crossroads. At almost 35 years old she was single, living in a one-bedroom apartment, alone, heartbroken, and not knowing if she would ever love again. Shortly after her breakup, she met her current husband of 5 years and going on strong living in the home which they purchased together with their three little dogs in San Antonio, Texas.

In December of 2020, Candy took the steps to achieve a dream that she has always had, a dream she didn't think was possible but then again she came from a household of very strong individuals who believed in going after your dreams. Candy went on to become the owner, founder, and CEO of Hit-The-Stage Cosmetics LLC. In 2021, Candy was crowned the title Miss Gay Austin Universe. In 2022, Candy was the reigning Miss Gay International. Her modeling and acting career is taking off and I am very excited to see her on the big screen. She is an Instagram influencer, an iconic star of Texas that shine's bright. Candy has had an amazing life and career. She is adored and looked up to by many. Her humanitarian efforts through life stem from her humble roots. She is a sheer vision of excellence and inspiration.

Esther Williams, SA LGBTQ Community Movement Project.

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