Scroll To Top

Judgment: Miss USA

Judgment: Miss USA


Perez Hilton's fellow Miss USA judge Alicia Jacobs took to her blog in response to Miss California's now-infamous marriage-equality flub -- and received a flood of hate mail and death threats. Now the gay rights advocate is speaking out.

When Miss California (Carrie Prejean) made the flub heard 'round the world with regard to blogger and Miss USA judge Perez Hilton's now-famous marriage-equality question, websites and blogs lit up with commentary, questions, and inevitable follow-up interviews. Alicia Jacobs, the Las Vegas on-air entertainment reporter for the city's NBC affiliate and former Miss Nevada USA who sat at the judges' table with Hilton that evening, ran home and took to her blog. She was fired up -- frustrated by Prejean's lack of compassion, eager to shed some light on the issue of marriage equality, and hoping people reading her words at home would understand why a Miss USA contestant should have avoided such a polarizing response to such a topical question.

Within 24 hours Jacobs's in-box was flooded with hate mail -- including a few death threats.

Jacobs reached out to to talk about the overwhelming response to her blog post, where she thinks Miss California went wrong, and what really went down in that auditorium after the "awkward" applause died down. has been quite a week for you. Alicia Jacobs: Oh, my gosh. Has it ever. I thought I was going to go in and judge a beauty pageant, which I was delighted and honored to do, and it's just taken on a life of its own.

When you heard Miss California's response to the question about marriage equality, did you know instantly it was going to cause a stir? I couldn't have imagined that three days later we would still be talking about it. The girl who actually became Miss USA [Miss North Carolina, Kristen Dalton] has been put on the back burner, which is unfortunate because she deserves the limelight right now, and nobody's talking about her. We're talking about Miss California, whose answer was definitely polarizing, and that's not what this pageant was all about.

Perez was the only judge to write his own questions, and some people have questioned whether or not it was an appropriate question to ask. I think it was a completely relevant question to ask. All of the judges' questions were meant to be topical, and, my gosh, certainly gay marriage is topical. It's an important issue and one that most states are talking about as we speak. I mean, my home state of Nevada -- right now there's legislation going on.

What was the mood in the theater like after Miss California's response? From what I've heard, what we saw on TV was not necessarily how it went down. It was interesting. There was applause, but it almost seemed like a slightly delayed nervous applause. She had a very large cheering section there, because California is very close to Nevada and that's what you'd expect. Look, she's a very beautiful girl and she competed well, in some people's opinion, up until that point. But the applause was followed by a great deal of booing, which didn't surprise me.

You took to your blog after the Miss USA event to talk about your feelings on marriage equality and about how the entire situation was handled. Why was it important for you to speak out? Well, it's a very important issue to me. First of all, I will tell you, that I am a hard-core, registered Republican -- and proud to be one -- but gay marriage and gay rights are paramount to me. I have so many important people in my life who are gay. I've lived some of their heartache and I've lived some of their victories and I'm passionate about it. I feel like it's appropriate for me now to speak out about it because there's a message there.

That blog has since been taken down. How did that all go down? I got a death threat -- maybe more than one -- and it was a very uncomfortable thing for me. It was the first time in my life that I've had to deal with something like that, so I thought, for the time being, I would take it down. I will put it back up. It may be in a different form -- I'm getting advice on that right now from my station management, who, by the way, they've been unbelievably supportive of this entire thing.

Oprah actually told Ellen DeGeneres that she'd never received more hate mail than she did when she guest-starred on Ellen's coming-out episode. This is one of those topics people seem to get so fired up about. Why do you think that is? Why do you think someone would care enough to threaten your life? I've been asking myself that question for the past several hours. Maybe I live in a bubble. I'm beginning to think perhaps I have been. Some of the most significant people in my life are gay. I think, My God. It's gotta be the hardest thing in the world to be gay. I can't believe the anger and the hatred that obviously my friends are dealing with on a daily basis -- and, to their credit, they rise above it every day and live amazing, successful lives. I had respect for them before, but it has now risen to a level I can't articulate. I'm not sure I could live my life and be successful in my occupation if I had to deal with that every day. It would be almost paralyzing to me.

Other contestants have now come out with their feelings on marriage equality -- some supporting it, some saying it should be left up to politicians. Do you think there is a way Miss California could have answered that question where she could have saved herself? Or the minute she went there, for you, was it over? I don't think that question lost the pageant for her, because she was never my winner to begin with. Going into the top five, I believe, she was third in entertainment and second in evening gown. Of course, nobody knows what would have happened at the end, but I don't think she was destined to win. Could she have answered that question better? Absolutely. My big thing was not the content of her answer, it was how she approached it. First of all, she didn't even answer the question -- she took it upon herself to raise her personal beliefs, which she didn't necessarily need to do to answer the question correctly. Miss USA is a spokesperson and she has to represent all people. She has to be a spokesperson for breast cancer, for ovarian cancer. Most importantly, she has to have social grace and, in that moment, she did not.

I had a chance to read the blog before it was taken down, thanks to Mr. Perez Hilton. Have you been following his response to this, and what do you think? I saw excerpts from his personal blog that he wrote right after the telecast. It was a bit harsh, and I wish that he hadn't used some of the language that he had. But look, he was upset. I was sitting right next to him, and we both drove back to the hotel together. He was visibly upset and really put off by it. He had a right to be. He's a gay man, he asked the question, I don't think it was the answer he wanted to hear. I think when he did that blog, that's what was fueling it and he was caught up in the moment. When he went on Larry King, I thought he was outstanding. Access Hollywood, I think he did a really good job.

Some people have said that if Miss California had answered the question the way same-sex marriage supporters had wanted her to, we'd have missed out on this important discussion. Do you think some good has inevitably come of this? I would love to believe that some good has come out of this, and I would love to believe from darkness there is light. Coming out of this whole experience, if I could have two wishes, they would be that people will feel more compassion toward gay issues and gay marriage and maybe have somewhat more of an open mind [toward] what the majority of gay Americans are having to deal with on a daily basis. I can't imagine someone telling me I don't have the right to spend my life with the person that I love -- I would be incensed. And, at the end of the day, I hope that this poor woman who won Miss USA -- I hope that she finally gets to have the recognition she so deserves.

There is, of course, the possibility that as runner-up Miss California could become Miss USA. What would you need to see from her -- an apology? What needs to happen now? If that were to happen, I would hope that this had opened her eyes and she sees that her words were hurtful to some people. If she were to become Miss USA, [I hope she] would do everything she could to try and bring people together. She doesn't have to love the idea, but maybe have an understanding that people who love each other just want to be together.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Ross von Metzke