Two women competing in Miss California USA this weekend are the first openly gay contestants in the pageant’s 60-year history.
Not one but two lesbians are competing to win the Miss California USA beauty pageant. According to local media reports which describe their participation as history in the making, beauty queens Mollie Thomas, 19, and Jenelle Hutcherson, 26, are among some 400 young women hoping to score this year’s title of Miss California USA. The winner will go on to compete in Miss USA pageant, the precursor to the Miss Universe pageant.
Hutcherson, who sports a pierced nose and tattoos, says she’s also using the contest as part of an effort to spread a message of tolerance and equality.
“We have the power to create a better future for our kids by setting an example of treating each other with love and equality,” said the hairstylist who works in a hair salon in Long Beach. She also works at the town’s LGBT center as a youth mentor.
“If I’d seen someone like myself up there maybe I wouldn’t have struggled with who I was for so long,” said Hutcherson in an statement to the International Business Times. She explained that she had initially declined the invitation from the Miss California pageant committee but ultimately decided to enter due in part to a friend’s convincing.
She first made the local news last October when she became the first openly lesbian contestant in the Miss Long Beach pageant, where she made it to the finals. Instead of the standard bikini, she wore 1930s-inspired board shorts and a tank top for the swimwear section, and for the evening attire she ditched the gown and heels for a tuxedo. Hutcherson said she planned to change things for the state pageant.
Thomas, a part-time UCLA student, who’s participating in a pageant for the first time, said she agreed to compete because it allowed her to represent the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in a positive way.
“I’m running for equality and will use this in order to promote visibility on current issues, to become a youth advocate and a role model,” Thomas told the LA Times. She has volunteered at a school for handicapped children in Mongolia and at an elephant reservation in northern Thailand and has helped rebuild homes in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
When asked about her official coming out, she said in a Huffington Post interview her family has always been aware, supportive, and progressive. “My family is so open and accepting that I knew very young who I was and who I loved.”
Asked if being openly gay would hurt her chances, she said: “I think it absolutely might, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take. When you have two hundred women, some of them are likely not straight. I think that lesbians have definitely run in the past but weren’t able to be open. I want to break that. I don’t think I would have done this pageant if I couldn’t do it openly. My whole platform is that I’m feminine and just because I’m gay doesn’t make me less of a woman or less worthy of the title than anyone else on stage.”
The pageant will be held on Saturday and Sunday at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert.
by News Editor
Source – Fridae