In 2009, former Miss California, Carrie Prejean drew mass media attention after she defined marriage to be between a man and woman. Now, for the 2012 Miss California competition, liberal ideals about homosexuality were taken to the next level.
Jenelle Hutcherson, 26, of Long Beach and Mollie Thomas, 19, of West Hollywood became the first two contestants in the pageant’s 60 years to refer to themselves as openly gay.
Keith Lewis, co-executive of the contest encouraged the idea. He said it "will emphasize individuality and push the envelope even further," he told Los Angeles Times. "This year's event will be bigger and reflect the progressive attitudes of the contestants."
The L.A. Times also reported that both Hutcherson and Thomas were approached by pageant recruiters to participate in the beauty contest.
“Thomas agreed to compete because it allowed her to represent the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in a positive way,” the L. A. Times reported. Hutcherson, who also competed last October for Miss Long Beach, has reported a similar objective.
However some questioned whether using the pageant for a political agenda didn’t take away from the pageant itself. In an interview, Miriam Stevenson Breckenridge, former Miss USA and Miss Universe, said pageants now are just very different. “I believe that the emphasis has changed considerably,” she said.
A user on L.A. Times blog Cypress1, said that recruiting the contestants was a publicity stunt.
“In order to have a non-biased result, it's critical that all of the competitors be judged on a level playing field and not be given benefit for being either straight or gay,” he said. “In short, this is a lot of PR and BS that has nothing to do with beauty.”