Is This the First Gay Miss California?
BY Diane Anderson-Minshall
January 05 2012 4:34 PM ET
When did you first come out?
I came out when I was a junior in high school. It was the hardest time to, but
I just couldn't hold it in any longer. However, I knew I was gay but did not
understand my feelings when I was 5 years old. I had a crush on a girl in first
grade. I would pick on her. I wanted her attention and that was the only way I
knew how to get it, by being mean.
I read that you got a call from Donald
I about fell over when I finally heard the message. I had been at work all day
and it was 9:30 at night when I finally had a chance to listen. That's when I
knew I was doing the right thing by following this journey and learning more
about who I am, and along the way making a difference.
You were the first openly gay Miss Long
Beach contestant. Have you heard of other openly lesbian pageant contestants?
I was the first “open” contestant and I had not ever heard of someone being gay
in the pageants to be honest. Until doing this myself I didn’t know that
apparently there are girls who are
gay but just do not bring it up or blend right in with gowns and heels. I don't
see what the big deal is to talk about it first. If these pageants really are
about strong, young women helping their communities and embracing who they are…
then I am exactly what they are looking for. I am strong and I want to help my
community and I am doing exactly that.
You and Mollie Thomas will be the first
openly gay Miss California competitors.
From what I understand, yes. It is hard for me to fathom that no one has
challenged this yet. In a society that is so diverse we really do stay in our
own comfort zones and don't try to blend lines that keep us apart and from
better understanding one another.
Every Miss California contestant has a
platform. What’s yours?
I am bringing a platform of anti-bullying and equality within a diverse
community. I want every adult to think to themselves about a time they felt
inferior or thought that who they were was not good enough or they were
bullied. I want to ask them, how did it make you feel? I know for myself. It was when my father died of
AIDS, when I was 10 years old;
shortly after that I went into a dark depression, unhappy and angry and
unhealthy. I didn't care about anything and put on a lot of
weight. Then I grew up into high school and came out that I was
That experience inspired you?
This all drew me toward wanting to be there for the youth today. So I became a
mentor. Everyone has been bullied at a point in time and it never felt good
then nor does it now. So we have to decide together as a society — all people — that we want to work together to create a
better future for these kids. So equality
within a diverse community is my understanding of “world peace.”
Is there a swimsuit competition? What
do you wear for that?
Yes and not sure yet. [Laughs]
What do your parents think of all this?
They love what I am doing. I have had their full support from day one. My mom
was my escort at the Miss Long Beach Pageant.
- WATCH: Ireland's New Marriage Equality Ad Will Give You Goosebumps
- Pa. Students Allegedly Throw 'Anti-Gay Day,' Write 'Lynch List'
- Scott Eastwood: 'I Support Gay Marriage'
- WATCH: Protestors Argue With Supporters of Antigay Michigan Repairman
- Michigan Trans Teen Skater's Suicide Rocks Roller Derby Community
- Rachel Maddow Spoofs Minnesota Senate's 'No Eye Contact' Rule