AI: Beauty Queens


Happy afternoon, everybody! Let’s get right down to the inqueery.

As some of you may have heard, the Miss California USA pageant has not one, but two out and proud lesbians competing this year. One of the contestants, Mollie Thomas, said she entered the pageant, “not only to fulfill some of my own aspirations, but also to be a positive role model and inspiration for the LGBTQ community and for girls everywhere.”

So what do you think? Is it inspiring to see lesbians included in the Miss USA pageant? Are beauty pageants really the sort of thing that lesbians should want to be included in? Is this sending a positive message to girls or the LGBTQ community?

The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at 3pm ET.

Featured image is Miss USA 2009.

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  1. I think it is. Anything to keep the dignity in people that expression and gender shouldn’t be marginalizing. I love it when people do something unexpected or different.

  2. I don’t have anything against including lesbians in the Miss USA pageant, but we have to recognize the doing so redefines the pageant as a whole. I think we should stop looking at woman as objects and stop the pressure on young girls to strive beyond a standard of fake plastic beauty that is unattainable. These freak show “beauty” contests are PRIVATELY OWNED contests, made by MEN for MEN. They are basically fashion shows for all practical purposes and the model’s face and body are the fashion, and that fashion is directed at HETERO men.

    Wanting to redefine these pageants is a noble idea but it’s a waste of time. Have a Miss Gay USA pageant instead.

    • Well, right, that’s the rub. Given that these pageants are staged by men for the titillation and profit of men, can a lesbian getting involved with the whole rigmarole even be considered a positive form of LGBTQ activism?

      • I would say that the fact a lesbian actually wants to participate in this kind of pageant at all is enough to say that they are not solely by/for hetero men.

        I have heard some women say that they present themself in a specific way so that they feel attractive, not so that others are attracted to them. While I don’t understand what the difference between these two concepts is, it does seem to be a widespread one and it seems plausible to me that it could apply to participants in a beauty pageant as well.

  3. I would personally not want to be in a beauty pageant for a variety of problems I see with them, but that is my opinion. My opinion is probably not very informed either. So if it works for some lesbians to do it, I say go for it!

  4. It’s a good thing to give exposure to something other than the usual lesbian stereotype. Anywhere.

    But pageants… It seems to me that it isn’t realistic to say that any of the women participating are setting out to be a positive and inspirational role model, when they’re actually helping perpetuate very harmful beauty standards, in a competition that essentialy officializes the decorative role women are supposed to play.

    I know I, both as a woman and a lesbian, wouldn’t want to be in that universe.

  5. Seems to me that if the pageants exists, and have women contestants, I like the idea of seeing the variety of participants. So, I don’t know if lesbians *should* want be included, but I’m glad to see they can join if they want to join.

    Also, I’ll add that although the general consensus seems to be pageants are badbadbad, I’m not totally convinced that’s true. I am an event planner, and each year I direct a Halloween parade. The pageant winners who participate are frequently more graceful, articulate, confident and, frankly … social than the family members who come to cheer them on along the route. And without question they’ve contributed more community service hours in their pageant-related rule fulfillment than I ever did at that age. (Service hours do not include pageants, or official duties of winners, but rather traditional service to their communities.)

    It’s not perfect, but at least in my own anecdotal experience, the pageants are a mantle of honor that girls and women in all walks of life, with any financial means, have a shot at. There are zillions of pageants, and many many of these girls will never go to college because it’s too expensive. Although pageants are also expensive, they are no where near as out-of-reach. And often the prizes are scholarships.

    So I used to think it was a bunch of not-so-good. And I’m not saying it’s the most-forward thinking of organize ideas. But I do think it’s more than just beauty contest meant to teach women their role as decorative objects.

    Everybody deserves something to be proud of, and no matter what one’s orientation, I think the Miss USA pageant is a viable goal.

  6. TL;DR: Dispite some misgivings, I think this is a positive thing, yes.

    Beauty pageants in general rub me the wrong way and I would generally be against them on principle. However, if we grant that there IS one, and these women want to participate for their own reasons, then I have two things to say.

    First is that it’s their choice and if they see something positive in it for themselves or others, then more power to them. I wouldn’t participate, but they aren’t me. I don’t think telling anyone, but particularly women in this case, is a good thing to do. Normally, I’d be more concerned that the choice wasn’t truly free due to the patriarchy and what not, but I’m not sure I can believe that they are doing it to satisfy the men around them. I’m more inclined to take them at their word.

    Second, I think this could be a stereotype-breaking endeavor. While people in the LGBTQ community are aware of the diversity, I’m not so sure that’s true of the public at large. I think they generally assume lesbians are all ‘butch’ or want to be men or something. I think putting the image of a smart, confident, beautiful woman in front of people that are more likely to be holding onto those misconceptions is likely to be a positive thing for the LGBTQ community.

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