Breaking Stereotypes: First Lesbians Compete To Become Miss USA

This article is over 12 years old and may contain outdated information

Recommended Videos

Beauty pageants are notoriously problematic from a feminist standpoint but one thing they have always championed are worthy causes and platforms for them. This past weekend, history was made when not one but two open lesbians competed for the title of Miss California. A title, if won, which would have placed them in competition for the Miss USA pageant. 

Mollie Thomas, 19, of West Hollywood, and Jenelle Hutcherson, 26, of Long Beach, were the first openly gay pageant contestants to try and win in the 60-year-old history of Miss California. Unfortunately, neither took home the crown but they’ve both made huge strides for the LGBT community with their efforts.

Thomas told Huffington Post pre-pageant that she never really had an official “coming out,” “saying her family has always been aware, supportive, and progressive. She said, ‘My family is so open and accepting that I knew very young who I was and who I loved.'”

“‘Initially I wondered if the organizers and other contestants would accept or ostracize me, but I’ve been fine,'” said Thomas. Her ultimate goal in running is twofold: she strives to raise visibility in the community and beyond while becoming a positive role model; secondly, she plans to parlay this exposure into new adventures. Thomas cites a strong desire to work with youth and give back the LGBT community.”

California, of course, is often in the news thanks to its gay marriage legislation, aka Proposition 8, and you may remember another Miss California popping up in the news two years ago. When asked about legalizing same-sex marriage, contestant Carrie Prejean said, “I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage and, you know what, in my country and my family I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anyone out there but that’s how I was raised and that’s how I think it should be between a man and a woman.”

And in the news last year, contestant Alyssa Campanella called herself a “geek” while vying for Miss USA and caused a stir within the geek community.

Hutcherson spoke to the She-Wired after the initial Long Beach pageant. “So history has been made,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “No crown and sash tonight, but doors opened that will never be shut again, many new friends and a whole new respect for the pageant world and what guts it takes to get up on that stage.”

She-Wire writes, “Even before the pageant began, Donald Trump, who runs the Miss California USA Pageant, had his office phone Hutcherson and invite her to compete on the statewide level. She didn’t even pause before accepting the challenge.”

“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 Hutcherson, who sported a non-traditional mohawk and tuxedo for the beauty pageant in which 400 women hoped to earn the title.

“The state (pageant) will emphasize individuality and push the envelope even further,” Keith Lewis, co-executive of the contest, said in a statement. “This year’s event will be bigger and reflect the progressive attitudes of the contestants.”

(via I Heart Chaos)

The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Jill Pantozzi
Jill Pantozzi
Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” ( She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."