Lesbian With Alternative Lifestyle Haircut To Compete In “Miss Long Beach” Pageant

A contestant in the Miss Long Beach Pageant is judged according to her performance in a personal interview (25%), evening wear (25%) and swimwear (25%), with the final 25% of the contestant’s score coming from ambiguous criteria (energy, confidence, spider-powers and physical fitness, perhaps) determined by the pageant staff and titleholders. The pageant has been held in Long Beach since 1950 and this year will be giving away $24,000 in prize money and contracts to women and girls in various categories (Little Miss, Teen, Miss, Mrs) for the “Long Beach” and “Southern California Cities” titles. The latter seems like a lot of words to fit onto a sash! Both of those things are very long words that honestly seem a bit cumbersome for a sash, you know? But these ladies can clearly do anything:

miss southern california cities 2010 looks like she could be posing for a fitforafemme photoshoot i think

The contestant must sell $100 in pageant tickets in order to enter. She will then select tasteful swimwear (1 or 2 piece, no thongs) and for the evening wear portion, the contestant will be escorted by her “father, husband, wife or another influential figure in her life.”

Sounds like another night at The Abbey!

Well, anyhow, speaking of lesbians, this all brings me to Jenelle Hutcherson, a 25-year-old lesbian hairstylist (aren’t they all?) who The LA Times describes as “rocking a Mohawk, tattoos, a pierced nose and small black ear plug-ins.” Hutcherson will be competing in this years competition. Hutcherson will be the first out lesbian to participate.

Here’s Hutcherson:

photo via LA Times

And here’s last year’s winners:

Jenelle told The LA Times that she chose to compete at the suggestion of pageant director Justin Rudd. Rudd was getting his hair cut by Janelle at the Den Salon in downtown Long Beach when the two had “an epic conversation.” “He started to tell me about this pageant and for a second I thought, ‘Oh wow, a business connection. How does one get involved?”

She reflects that she probably didn’t “quite clarify” her intentions because Rudd went on to tell her how she could get involved as a contestant in the pageant, saying “her wild colors, tattoos and her individuality would all be embraced.”

The Times says: “[Jenelle] said she hopes that by participating in the pageant she’ll help spread a message of equality, diversity and creativity, but also unite Long Beach’s large gay community.” She competes with the support of the board of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center of Long Beach, where she is also a part-time volunteer.”

She’s set up a facebook page to solicit donations/sponsorships, keep fans updated on her progress and sewing projects, and share recent press. She’s been getting a lot of press. Look at that hair!!

She now also intends to compete in the Miss California pageant.

The most amazing part of this whole situation is that Jenelle is wearing “her handmade boy shorts and tank top inspired by 1930s men’s and women’s swimwear” for the swimwear competition. For evening wear, she’ll be wearing a royal purple tuxedo. I bet that swim situation is mega-hot and when the pageant is over she should sell it on The Bay.

Now, some feminists have had a complicated relationship to beauty pageants for all of time, although the Sandra Bullock film Miss Congeniality seems to have warmed a handful of hearts. Then Toddlers & Tiaras happened, and fuck it all to hell. Did you know Miss America and Miss USA didn’t allow women of color to compete until 1970? I just read that on The Internet. Also, two years ago there was a total freakout when Carrie Prejean answered Perez Hilton’s question about gay marriage by asserting that she was against it.

And just last week, The “Miss World” competition was picketed by 200 feminists, as hilariously described by The International Business Times:

A feminist demonstration outside the venue panicked the organizers for a while, as approximately 200 campaigners stormed in with placards, banners and chants denouncing the contest as an “appalling offence against women’s equality.”

“Let the organizers and all those profiting from the event know that we are all angry that such an event is once again being held here in London,” said a statement on the group’s Web Site.

Carrying signs and posters that read “Miss Deed” and “Miss Ogynist” in opposition to the beauty pageant, the angry protestors made it “loud and clear that this event has no place in London in 2011.”

So what does it mean when a lesbo takes the stage? A lot, actually — ultimately what Jenelle is actually doing here by entering is subverting that potentially problematic paradigm altogether. She’s doing so on her own terms, wearing what she wants to wear. If pageants promote a sterilized, homogenized idea of female beauty, then allowing Jenelle to dress in a way that reflects her own personal (and non-traditional) gender identity is, in a way, blowing that lid right off. It’s not about a gendered beauty standard anymore. We’re all just people. I hope she wins!

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Riese is the 33-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1760 articles for us.

27 Comments

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    Those Feminists who organised that demonstration outside Miss World made it quite clear on their facebook page about the event (which has since been deleted by the creator) that Trans women were not welcome at the even which was really fucking stupid. I’m in part agreement with them about the Miss World competition but they weren’t trying to defend all women’s rights which for me invalidated their whole march.

    But yay for the lesbian competing. Go her.

    Now to go cry about the complexities of being a modern feminist.

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    i hope jenelle is a super lovely person and wins people’s heart, otherwise i suspect the whole thing will piss the rednecks even more. as they always say the gays are ‘stuffing their lifestyle down our throats’.

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    She’s fabulous! I hope she wins (though I’m not counting on it, because I’m a hopeless pessimist). Either way, she’s going to show people who might not otherwise be exposed to it, a whole ‘nother way to be awesome!

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    I honestly don’t see how she is fighting for lesbian inclusion by doing this. Lesbians can win pageants. Lesbians can be models. Lesbians can be feminine. Lesbians have done and do all these things. Being gay doesn’t make you less of a woman or less capable of being attractive. I think what this is really about is subverting gender roles for the fun of agitating people who take this traditional celebration of gender conformity very seriously. And I guess if you want to say women in tuxedos with tattoos and piercings should win beauty pageants, what you really want is to change what beauty pageants are. Personally, I find the entire concept of beauty pageants to be distasteful and weird. Any changes Jenelle would like to see won’t change the underlying stupidity and weirdness of pageants.

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    I’d just like to add…on the LA Times website today there was a story about Hutcherson headlined saying she was “Joyous After Loss.” The very next story was about a stolen U-Haul in Long Beach. LOL

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