First Openly Lesbian Miss California Contestant Says She Wants To Be A Role Model For Girls

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mollie thomas miss AmericaGenerally speaking, I don’t think much of the Miss America pageants for young women. Scholarship money there may be, but at the price of judging women primarily on their looks and asking that they parade around in bikinis to achieve said opportunity. Women who have had children, are married, or are divorced are also barred from competing. So when it comes to really young girls, I think that they’d do well to find their role models elsewhere. But a recent contestant, 19-year-old Mollie Thomas, is just one of two openly lesbian young women competing for the Miss California title — and she has me changing my mind a bit.

Mollie has never competed in a pageant before, but she’ll be representing West Hollywood in an effort to create more visibility for the LGBTQ community. The teenager will be one of two openly lesbian women competing this year, as 26-year-old Jenelle Hutcherson will be representing Long Beach.

In addition to being a part-time student at UCLA, Mollie assisted in rebuilding homes in New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina and has also worked with handicapped children in Mongolia. The young lady also appears to be an ardent animal lover, having assisted at an elephant reservation in northern Thailand. On her website, Mollie describes herself as very dedicated to human rights. She adds that she was approached by a recruiter to compete for the Miss California title in September of 2011 in “a complete unexpected turn in [her] life.”

When asked when she came out to her parents, the young lady told The Huffington Post that she doesn’t quite remember — an indicator for perhaps how accepting her parents are. Having always had the love and support of her parents, being gay was hardly an issue:

“My family is so open and accepting that I knew very young who I was and who I loved.”

In regards to her intentions for entering the Miss America contest, Mollie wrote on her Facebook page:

“I am taking this opportunity not only to fulfill some of my own aspirations, but also to be a positive role model and inspiration for the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning) community and for girls everywhere.” 

She may ultimately be strutting about in a bikini, but being vocal about her sexual orientation in such a public arena does ultimately create more media visibility for little LGBTQ girls out there who would otherwise look upon that array of contestants and just see the girls who bully them. Mollie may just be starting out in the competition, but her aim to be a role model specifically for queer children — kids who often don’t seem to have enough figures to look up to — surely sets her apart from the other ladies in the lineup.