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First Out Lesbians in Miss California USA Pageant Lose Crown, Win Hearts

Mollie Thomas/Image via Miss California USA
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Jenelle Hutcherson/Image via Miss California USA
On Sunday night, two local women became the first out lesbians to compete in the Miss California USA pageant. Neither Mollie Thomas, 19, nor Jenelle Hutcherson, 26, went home with the crown, but they got their message across anyway. "I got up there to make me happy," Hutcherson, a hairdresser from Long Beach, told NBC. "I got up there to influence these [LGBT] kids that I work with as a mentor, to be themselves, to be who they are and see how the world reacts."

Hutcherson wore a tux for the evening gown competition, and in the Miss Long Beach pageant last October, she wore board shorts and a tank top for the bathing suit competition, reports to the LA Times. Thomas, who lives in West Hollywood, took a more traditional route clothing-wise, but still saw her participation in the event as a way to promote a more comprehensive definition of beauty.

She described her role in the pageant to NBC, in part, as "being who you are and being true to yourself and being a strong woman rather than being your stereotypical beauty pageant girl."

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Hutcherson and Thomas represented a change in tone for the pageant -- the last time homosexuality and Miss California shared a headline was when Carrie Prejean, 2009 winner of the pageant, told the world that she believed marriage was "between a man and a woman."