Spain made history in August. Or rather Miss Spain did.
It’s been a bumper year for coming outs (or is it comings out, or out comings?) by celebrities, athletes, politicians, etc., as I’ll mention in more detail in 12 days time. There are still some areas where openly lgbt people are few and far between, and female beauty pageants is one of them.
This article deals with traditional female beauty pageants, and not lesbian, transgender or other lgbt contests.
In the words of an old British saying “you wait for ages, and three turn up at once!” (usually in reference to buses). In 2014 you could say that about lgbt beauty queens. After years of hearing very little about any lgbt sexuality three top national and international beauty queens have come out as lesbian or queer. They are :
Djuan Trent, Miss Kentucky 2010,Patricia Yurena, Miss Spain 2008 and 2013, and
Maria Walsh, Miss Rose of Tralee 2014.
Of these three Patricia Yurena has had the most distinguished career so I’ll deal with her later. And before I go into more detail about the others I should admit that they aren’t the first female lgbt beauty queens to step onto the pageant stage. In 2012 Mollie Thomas (representing West Hollywood) and Jennelle Hutcherson (representing Long Beach) entered the Miss California contest though neither made the finals. In 2013 Annalouisa Valencia, the second Hispanic beauty queen in today’s article, entered the Miss South Carolina pageant. Like Mollie and Jennelle, Annalouisa didn’t make the final.
The first of the three beauty queens to come out this year was Djuan Trent in February. In 2011 she entered the Miss America pageant as the reigning Miss Kentucky, and was the first winner of the pageant’s “Contestant’s Vote” – similar to winning Miss Congeniality, I suppose. Being Miss Kentucky made Djuan the first known lgbt beauty queen to represent an American state though, she wasn’t openly lesbian at the time.
On 24th August Maria Walsh of Philadelphia became the first international openly lesbian beauty pageant champion. Four days earlier she had won the Miss Rose of Tralee 2014 title, a world-wide pageant for any women of Irish heritage or descent.
But the crown of the most titles won by an out lgbt beauty queen goes to the current Miss Spain, Patricia Yurena. Not only is she the first lesbian to represent her country but she is also the first to reach the final of the Miss Universe pageant. The title of Miss Spain gives the holder the right to compete in the following Miss Universe. Unfortunately, Patricia’s first win as national beauty queen in 2008 was while she was 17 years old, and the Miss Universe rules stipulate that all entrants must be over 18 before 1st February in the year they enter. Patricia wasn’t 18 until 5 weeks later so missed out on her first shot at an international title.
However, the 2008 Miss World pageant was held after her birthday so Patricia was able to compete, and she came in the top 15 semi-finalists. She was able to re-enter the most recent Miss Universe contest held in Moscow last November. She finished as 1st runner-up (or second, as they say in most competitions).
All of the women mentioned today are pioneers in their own right, challenging the assumption in much of society that all beautiful women are straight. In general they all received positive responses from pageant organisers and, as Djuan Trent wrote on her blog, “I would love to one day live in a society where coming out is no longer necessary because we don’t make assumptions about one another’s sexuality and homophobia is laid to rest…” It’s what we all hope for, isn’t it.