Editor's note: A source for portions of this story included a Q&A with Jenelle Hutcherson conducted by Masa Zokaei.
LONG BEACH, Calif. — When you think of beauty pageants, do you think of Midwestern farmer’s daughters or classic Southern belles? Perhaps you should adjust and expand your framework to include lesbian hairstylists, as Long Beach resident Jenelle Hutcherson throws her hat in the ring for the title of Miss Long Beach.
Although the pageant for the 2012 title isn’t until Nov. 13, the 25-year-old Hutcherson is already drumming up noise for the event, particularly in the “evening wear” category. Forget the organza, taffeta and tulle — this young woman will be wearing a tuxedo.
“I am not a ‘gown and heels’ kind of girl. When [pageant boss] Justin Rudd said that was not a problem, that I could wear formal attire or a tux, I was so excited! In Long Beach we do things just a little differently," she said.
"The ability to do this locally would bring a whole new realness factor to the pageant and define who we are as a community. The Miss USA and other such pageants are about strong young women embracing who they are and being leaders within their community,” Hutcherson said.
Hutcherson is a master hairstylist at The Den Salon in Long Beach. However, she also is a powerful voice in her community doing volunteer work as well.
“I am a part-time volunteer and mentor with the MYTE Program at the Center of Long Beach, which helps mentor LGBT youth. Currently I am dedicating my time to helping the Center reach a goal of getting the MYTE program up in full force. Kids are very important to our future as a community and the entire human race. There is always a lack of volunteers and funding. Sometimes all these young people need is someone to care,” Hutcherson said.
Winning this title would not only mean a lot to Hutcherson, but to the LGBT community as a whole, she said.
“I want to help make caring about your community 'cool' again. Particularly with the Center, I see it as one place that hits home for me and that I can start to help make a difference.
"For me, it is not about winning at this point, it’s about getting up on that stage and standing up for what I care about. I hope to influence others to do the same. I know people within the community and even outside of it have influenced me to take the stand that I am taking. If I can open one mind or give one child hope then I have succeeded in what I have set out to do,” she said.
If you are interested in learning more about Janelle Hutcherson and cheering her on, check out her YouTube video below or support her on her Facebook page HERE.