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LONG BEACH, Calif. – Janelle Hutcherson did not win the Miss Long Beach pageant Sunday night, but she made her mark as the first lesbian to enter the competition and spoke out for tolerance and equality.
“So history has been made. No crown and sash tonite, but doors opened that will never be shut again, many new friends and a whole new respect for the pageant world and what guts it takes to get up on that stage. On to Miss California USA!! :) thank you all for your inspiring words and support!!” Hutcherson wrote on her Facebook page.
Monday morning update
This morning, Hutcherson elaborated on her experience over the weekend.
"I rocked my sewn-from-scratch 1930s-inspired swimsuit, and my tailored and hand-detailed tux and some purple in my mohawk," she said.
"The girls were amazing; they were so embracive of my being there. They were so cute, the teens and Littles, they just wanted photos. The Mrs. were so real and down to earth. And the Miss, well, they were so rad to practice with me and help. The commradery between these women backstage is a rare and not usually seen occassion. No torn tux, or dresses for any other contestant for that matter," Hutcherson said.
"I walked away with no crown, but a whole new sense of myself and the world around me. What a heck of a life experience! Just when you think you know everything, open yourself up to learn and understand a little more! The judges were awesome ... it was a pleasure being interviewed by Raquel and Andrea, Miss California USA 2008 and Mrs. America 2006. My particular favorite, in all due respect, was Miss Long Beach 1950, CaroleWhite Breithaupt! She was so cute! I could just put her in my pocket! Sweet as could be, so glad she is the first Miss Long Beach, we really hit it off well," she said.
Hutcherson will now move on to compete in Donald Trump’s Miss California USA pageant from Jan. 6 to 8, 2012. She needs to raise $1,900 by Nov. 18 to qualify for the pageant.
The master hairstylist, a 25-year-old Long Beach resident, did not alter her appearance or style to conform into the traditional pageant role. She wore a black-striped tuxedo with a purple dress shirt and a purple tie instead of an evening gown. Her hair was swept up Mohawk-style instead of a big bouffant She kept her nose ring and ear plug-ins.
In interviews with San Diego Gay & Lesbian News Staff Writer Sandy Chase, Hutcherson said the pageant gave her a platform to spread her message of tolerance to many people.
Hutcherson’s friends and supporters poured out their feelings on her Facebook page. Here is a sampling of the comments:
Robert Altamirano: “You're a winner in my book, you've led the way for other future lesbians to be anything that they dream or aspire too. Xoxo”
Aleikezeaer Reaezekiela: “With or without a crown, for me you're a winner! You rock dude!”
Mindy O'Bric: “Jenelle, you were awesome tonight and u made us all so proud to know you! If there was a crowd favorite, you won it. Much love”
Heather Marie: “You are a leader and inspiration. You were truly great tonight as always dear, as always I an truly impressed by you! We are all soooo proud of you!”
Miriam Baker: “I'm so proud of you! You have inspired so many people in any and every aspect in life. You looked fabulous tonite.”
Zucabr Ruicarumtan: “Aint no stopin you..now reach for the stars and beyond girl”
Kira Wohlge: “girl ur a winner to so many :)”
Mark Gonzales: “Ur an inspiration to many. Amazing what youve done and what you continue to do. Keep it up girl.”
Debbie Webb Johnson: “Good for you! Wish I could have been there. You inspire me!”
Masa Zokaei: “Although Jenelle didn't take the crown tonight, she has opened doors for other girls. Jenelle, you are an inspiration. We love you and we're proud of you! Miss California is next!”