Why can’t Miss USA be gay?

She’s beauty, she’s grace, and she’s a lesbian.

Enter Mollie Thomas, a 19-year-old Miss California USA 2012 contestant from West Hollywood. With the same amount of poise, grace and drive as the other competitors, she has one quirk that makes her stand out. She is the first openly-lesbian woman running for the crown.

The pageant contestant stereotype has officially been broken. Pursuing the dream millions of girls fantasize about, Thomas is making history for the better, especially when the pageant’s less than stellar reputation for choosing candidates with adequate role model potential.

In 2009, Miss California USA Carrie Prejean infamously expressed her opinion that marriage belongs between a man and woman. Everyone is entitled to their opinions but when in line to be a representative of an entire state’s female population, some perspectives need to be tweaked.

On her Facebook fan page, Thomas writes she is not only fulfilling her own dreams but also using the pageant as an opportunity to be a positive role model for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community.

Thomas’ confident attempt to break down the barriers of society is both admirable and heroic. She took a leap for the LGBTQ community by opening herself up to ample amounts of criticism and oppression.

Known for being highly conservative and unchanging, the pageant world has never explicitly stated any sexual preference requirements. However, if it were acceptable to be a gay pageant contestant, Thomas’ run would not be making headlines.

In a society where less than half of the United States population — 41 percent according to a 2011 poll by the Gay Marriage Research Center — supports gay marriage, a lesbian competing against hundreds of straight girls with the same qualifications is significant.

The winners of these pageants go on to work with world-renowned charities, political figures and ultimately represent the United States in a commendable light. Although Thomas did not win the crown of the Miss California USA pageant, which took place in early January, she won respect, which is worth more than any diamond tiara.

Thomas’ bravery in taking on society at full throttle will hopefully change the norms of sexual preference. It should no longer be considered abnormal that a lesbian wants to be a pageant queen.

Hopefully, Thomas’ bravery will encourage others to fulfill their aspirations and not let a sexual preference prohibit them from anything they want to accomplish.

“It’s really a big deal to me because not only does it give me a shift about the pageants and who participates in the pageants, but it also gives me hope that someday we can also be more inclusive in things such as that,” said Ben Griffith, an ASUA Pride Alliance intern. “Not just in pageants but in other areas like sports, and more openness in the arts, and just different areas where we just get stereotyped or people are not as open about is being in those kind of fields.”

Pride Alliance makes tremendous efforts in providing a supportive atmosphere for the LGBTQ campus community.

Alliance’s “Out on the Job” series helps people open up about their gender identity or sexual orientation at work and “helps us to not feel so alone that we need to hide it, that we can be ourselves around people and still do what we love,” Griffith said.

Thanks to Thomas, the diversity of pageant contestants the LGBTQ community have an even brighter future.

— Caroline Nachazel is a junior studying journalism and communication. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.


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