When the Tournament of Roses Parade steps off in Pasadena, Calif., on New Year’s Day, the queen reigning over it will be the first one drawn from the LGBTQ community.
Louise Deser Siskel, a resident of nearby San Marino, is also the first Jewish Rose Queen and the first one who wears glasses, the Pasadena Star-News reports.
“What was important to me throughout the interview process [for the selection of the queen] was that I was completely transparent about who I was, about the things that I value, and about the things that I advocate for,” Siskel told the Star-News. She did not say specifically where she identifies within the LGBTQ spectrum.
“I entered [the competition] on sort of a whim, but as I continued to return for the interview rounds, and throughout the whole process, I realized the value of the Tournament of Roses, and the role it plays in our community,” she added. “Each year, the [Tournament] selects seven young women [for the Royal Court] and gives them a real voice; for that I feel very thankful.”
Siskel is a senior at Sequoyah High School, a private school in Pasadena. She is a member of the debate team and is active in the YMCA Youth & Government program. She has a passion for science, and has done research on breast cancer and space exploration.
She plans to go to college next year. The University of Chicago is her first choice, but she also likes Yale and Johns Hopkins, she said in a recent interview on the Pasadena Now Facebook page (watch below). Her goal is to become a surgeon.
The Tournament of Roses Parade has the largest viewership of any televised parade, the Los Angeles Blade notes. It has often been the site of protests. ACT UP and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are among the groups that have held demonstrations there.
But organizers have made the parade more progressive and inclusive over the years. In 2014 there was a same-sex wedding on a float in the parade, according to the Blade. And it has featured floats from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. and the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting.