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Miss California Recruiters Encouraged Two Out-and-Proud SoCal Women to Become Pageant's First Lesbians

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Three years ago the reigning Miss California Carrie Prejean made national headlines for her outspoken views against gay marriage. But this year the pageant's recruiters have successfully encouraged a radically different sort of contestant to compete: out-and-proud lesbians who seem to care less about winning a beauty contest and more about being a strong role model for the LGBT community.

Jenelle Hutcherson, 26, of Long Beach and Mollie Thomas, 19, of West Hollywood are the first (openly) gay contestants in the state pageant's six decades, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Hutcherson competed in Long Beach's local pageant and won a runner-up title, even though she didn't conform to beauty queen norms. For the swimsuit competition, she rocked board shorts and a tank top. For the evening wear portion, she busted out a tux. She jokes that she'd love the way a Miss California crown would look with her faux-hawk, but she says she's most interested in using the contest to promote equality, which would be an extension of the work she does as a mentor for LGBT youth in Long Beach.

"She's really promoting what she believes in, and it's inspiration to other people," reigning Miss Long Beach Kristin Bopp told the Times. "I think it's great."

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This will be the first pageant for Thomas, a part-time student at UCLA. She says she wants to give the contest a shot so she can be a positive role model for the LGBT community. She told the Times: "I'm running for equality and will use this in order to promote visibility on current issues, to become a youth advocate and a role model."