When Analouisa Valencia takes the stage in an effort to win the title of Miss South Carolina, she will be making history. She’s not only the first openly gay contestant in the Miss South Carolina pageant, she also holds that distinction for the entire Miss America system, WISTV reports.
Valencia, who competed at the state level in 2012, is also the first bilingual contestant Miss America has had, she says. Last time she was featured in the Miss South Carolina pageant, Valencia admits, “I was hiding who I was,” adding, “This is my first year coming out and saying, ‘This is me, girls. Sorry, I’m going to be changing in the same dressing room as you. This is what’s going to happen.'”
One of Analouisa’s biggest supporters is her mom, Hattie Palasox. Though, Palasox admits that it hasn’t been completely smooth sailing so far. “She’s a product of that change and it’s taking time for people to accept it,” she says.
The 2013 Miss South Carolina will be crowned Saturday (July 13), with the winner receiving a $25,000 scholarship and going on to compete for the Miss America crown. Should that person be Valencia, she hopes that it’s her passion for helping to coach Special Olympics athletes that judges remember, not her sexuality.