Miss California USA 2012 Sees First Openly Gay Contestants

Miss California USA has seen its first openly gay contestants, just three short years after Miss California 2009 Carrie Prejean defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Jenelle Hutcherson, 26, of Long Beach (left) and Mollie Thomas, 19 (right), of West Hollywood both entered the 2012 pageant and became the first participants in the contest’s 60-year history to refer to themselves as homosexual. Thomas said:

“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.”

The beauty pageant is one of the few remaining arenas of heterosexuality, but Keith Lewis, co-executive of the Miss California contest, is happy that this is being challenged. He told the Los Angeles Times the entry of Hutcherson and Thomas will:

“[…] emphasize individuality and push the envelope even further. This year’s event will be bigger and reflect the progressive attitudes of the contestants.”

It seems this may not have been a totally spontaneous move by the ladies concerned. The Times reports Hutcherson and Thomas were approached by pageant recruiters to take part:

“Thomas agreed to compete because it allowed her to represent the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in a positive way.”

While this smacks of a publicity stunt – okay, it is a publicity stunt – it’s hardly promoting a negative message. That said, not all are convinced tying a political sentiment to a beauty pageant is worthwhile. One po-faced commenter on the LA Times blog opined:

“In order to have a non-biased result, it’s critical that all of the competitors be judged on a level playing field and not be given benefit for being either straight or gay. In short, this is a lot of PR and BS that has nothing to do with beauty.”