Openly gay woman to compete for Miss South Carolina crown

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Analouisa Valencia came to the door in a bright blue facial mask and sweatpants, surprised anyone was coming to see her.

Analouisa Valencia said she has received positive feedback.  JEFFREY COLLINS/ASSOCIATED PRESS
JEFFREY COLLINS/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Analouisa Valencia said she has received positive feedback.

“I’m sorry. I got mixed up and didn’t know you were coming today,” she told the reporter at the door. “Miss South Carolina contestants aren’t supposed to let people see them like this.”

Valencia isn’t the typical pageant contestant in a lot of ways. Her family doesn’t have a lot of money, she is biracial and bilingual and, in what might be a first for the Miss South Carolina and its parent Miss America pageants, she is openly gay.

“This is who I am. People tell me I am the most real pageant contestant they
have ever met. I wasn’t open about it last year, and that’s why I think I was so uncomfortable competing,” Valencia said.

Valencia, who turns 20 on Tuesday when the pageant’s preliminaries begin, thinks she is the first openly gay contestant ever in the Miss South Carolina pageant, and perhaps in all of the Miss America competitions. The pageants don’t keep up with that information.

To some, it might be a bit surprising that South Carolina might have the first lesbian competing for a state crown. But Valencia said she hasn’t heard any harsh words since coming out earlier this year.

“I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback. I’m really surprised more than anything, but very grateful and humble that I haven’t gotten any feedback, because nobody wants any negativity in their lives,” Valencia said.

Valencia figured out she was gay in ninth grade and told her mother, friends and a few teachers. There was some worry and maybe a bit of disappointment, but it quickly faded away, Valencia said.

She met her girlfriend three years ago, and they went to each other’s high school proms. Valencia became interested in pageants in 2000, when she joined a mentoring program for young girls called Palmetto Princesses and met Miss Spartanburg. The tiara got her hooked. She has been competing ever since.

Valencia was in the Miss South Carolina pageant in 2012, competing as Miss Electric City. She didn’t finish in the top 15. She is back this year as Miss Lyman and plans to sing the modern ballad Footprints in the Sand by Leona Lewis.

Her platform is “Special Olympics. Be a fan.” She has been a gymnast for much of her life and coaches several Special Olympians in the gym where she grew up. She is going to Spartanburg Community College with a plan to get a business degree and open up her own gyms.

Valencia is more confident this year, she thinks in large part because of her decision to come out.

She didn’t make it lightly, recalling a long conversation with her mother, Hattie Palafox, to make sure she was ready for any slurs or other angry reactions.

Palafox is an English-as-a-second-language teacher who takes up interpreting jobs to pay for her daughter’s pageants. She met Valencia’s father in Mexico and learned fluent Spanish. She cheers for her daughter in Spanish at pageants so Valencia will know she is in the crowd.

The Miss America organization also backs Valencia.

“The Miss America Organization continues today to promote our great tradition of supporting young women across the country and from all walks of life to follow their dreams through education. Scholastic ambition, community service, and talent help to distinguish our contestants and we are proud to support, not hinder, their choices as we embrace their individuality,” the organization said in a statement.

Valencia gets similar support from Miss South Carolina officials.

Still, Valencia knows she lives in a state that politically isn’t very gay friendly. South Carolina passed a constitutional amendment in 2006 with 78 percent of voters assuring she and her girlfriend couldn’t get married or have any kind of civil union.

“I think that is going to change too,” she said. “I see people are accepting me as a person. I think they will eventually be able to accept that gays should be able to marry.”

Valencia isn’t shy about advocating for equal rights for homosexuals. She has accepted an invitation to give a message of tolerance at a local college. She had done a number of interviews about being a gay pageant contestant and answers all the messages of support she gets online and other places.

“Those mean a lot. I want anyone who thinks they are different and should be ashamed to know that it is OK to be who you are,” Valencia said.

And if she wins the Miss South Carolina crown, don’t look for some big speech about being gay. Instead, look to hear the state’s newest beauty queen talk about Special Olympics and the importance of tolerance for everyone.

Comments (17) Add comment
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myfather15
54471
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myfather15 07/07/13 - 11:01 pm
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1
"But Valencia said she hasn’t

"But Valencia said she hasn’t heard any harsh words since coming out earlier this year."

Whaaaaat? This lesbian lives in South Carolina (Redneckville) and hasn't received ANY harsh words?

OMG!! How can this be? I thought these rednecks were out in full force, bashing every gay person possible!!

myfather15
54471
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myfather15 07/07/13 - 11:03 pm
7
2
"Valencia figured out she was

"Valencia figured out she was gay in ninth grade and told her mother"

Well now, this is very confusing!! I thought they were born this way and if so, she should have figure out earlier that she was gay!! Shouldn't she? I was certainly looking a pretty girls before 9th grade!!

Valkyrie1
315
Points
Valkyrie1 07/08/13 - 12:44 am
6
6
myfather

I wasn't all that interested in boys until about 9th grade. Not to mention you weren't fighting social conditioning to figure out your sexuality. Most homosexuals spend time confused as to why they aren't attracted to the opposite sex and it is at varying ages they figure it out. Personally I have no problem with my children not figuring out their sexuality one way or another prior to 14 years old.

nocnoc
41191
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nocnoc 07/08/13 - 05:37 am
12
2
If there is a Politically Correct Judging Panel

She will get the title, Blue face mask on or off.

I guess the question is will the judges do their job or
go PC?

Besides this is a Beauty Padget, not a who are you dating Padget.
Why is it important to announce her sexual orientation, if it is fairly judged based on looks and style? Or is there an under laying reason?

InChristLove
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InChristLove 07/08/13 - 05:45 am
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What difference does it make

What difference does it make whether she is homosexual or heterosexual. I wasn't aware that the Miss America or Miss South Carolina contest was based on sexual orientation....I thought it was based on your beauty both without and within....her sexual orientation shouldn't even be brought up unless someone wants to use it as leverage against the other girls. If she doesn't win, will we have to hear about all the homophobes, and if she does win, will we continue to have to hear about how this first homosexual girl has won....blah, blah, blah.

What difference does it make and will next year we have to allow gay men to join the contest (because after all they are really women trapped in a man's body)?

soapy_725
43672
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soapy_725 07/08/13 - 06:46 am
0
0
ICL is right. Politics, politics, agenda, agenda, agenda
Unpublished

ICL is right. Politics, politics, agenda, agenda, agenda

soapy_725
43672
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soapy_725 07/08/13 - 06:48 am
0
0
palmetto1008
9782
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palmetto1008 07/08/13 - 07:29 am
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Please, ICL. Don't confuse
Unpublished

Please, ICL. Don't confuse sexual preference with gender identity.

CobaltGeorge
155319
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CobaltGeorge 07/08/13 - 07:37 am
7
2
Is There Any Doubt

who the next Miss South Carolina will be?

Let me congratulate you ahead of time.

Little Lamb
45282
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Little Lamb 07/08/13 - 07:50 am
7
3
Racism

She's got it made. If she doesn't win she can claim that the judges were racist.

Humble Angela
41338
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Humble Angela 07/08/13 - 07:52 am
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I say good for her. I hope
Unpublished

I say good for her. I hope she does well. Just hope she doesn't think there are people who don't have maps.

dstewartsr
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dstewartsr 07/08/13 - 09:20 am
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Then she can go on to Miss Lesbian SC.

(Straight girls need not apply.)

Little Lamb
45282
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Little Lamb 07/08/13 - 11:25 am
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Confusion

Palmetto1008 posted:

Please, ICL. Don't confuse sexual preference with gender identity.

Now you've got me all confused. If a transgender person has a sexual preference for same sex, does that mean he's straight?

itsanotherday1
42042
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itsanotherday1 07/08/13 - 12:29 pm
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Dittos ICL's 0545.

Dittos ICL's 0545.

InChristLove
22460
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InChristLove 07/08/13 - 12:29 pm
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"Please, ICL. Don't confuse

"Please, ICL. Don't confuse sexual preference with gender identity."

palmetto1008, it is all the same to me. If a human is born with male genetial but thinks and feels like he is a woman but sexually attracted to males then his sexual preference is male and he is still a homosexual male and could push to be accepted into the contest because he says his gender identity is female.

myfather15
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myfather15 07/08/13 - 01:07 pm
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I agree with nocnoc

Honestly, I DO NOT sit around watching Miss Georgia or Miss America and think "Hhhhmmm, I wonder if that girl is a lesbian". It never even crosses my mind and I couldn't care less what her preference is.

But thats the big problem; to most American's , they couldn't care less. No one is asking the contestents "Now, you are straight aren't you?"

But with the LGBT faction of society, it's absolutely neccessary for them to FLAUNT it in everyones face!! They don't wait for anyone to ask orientation, they BROADCAST IT!! Loudly!!

lifelongresident
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lifelongresident 07/08/13 - 02:34 pm
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i agree with you myfather, it
Unpublished

i agree with you myfather, it is now she "comes out" only as a subtle way to influence to judges...chances are if whe loses she will cry "raaaaaaaaacism and discrimination" and of course there will be a protest march by some lesbo group all in the real attempt is to further advance their hidden agenda...can NAMBLA be too far behind......

dstewartsr
20389
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dstewartsr 07/08/13 - 03:02 pm
9
1
Poor baby!

If she loses at the Miss SC AND the Miss Lesbian SC, she can always sign up for the Miss Black SC pageant; they're very accepting.

Except whites.

And hispanics.

And asians.

myfather15
54471
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myfather15 07/08/13 - 03:23 pm
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1
Valkyrie

Is that your way of saying "This issue is too complex for you simpletons!"?

Yes, it always has to be complex!! Otherwise, there wouldn't be any confusion, of which is the goal!

Bizkit
30711
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Bizkit 07/08/13 - 05:09 pm
3
0
This is sad-it isn't about

This is sad-it isn't about coming out but trying to gain a foot up and some popularity-it is a popularity contest. We aren't suppose to discriminate against homosexuals so why even bring it up. It doesn't matter what here sexual orientation-she could even be a transsexual and no one should know (remember the English model). This is just a publicity stunt-hey look at me. No one cares about your sexual orientation-tell us your hobbies and how do you look in a bikini. LOL>

fedex227
11179
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fedex227 07/08/13 - 05:16 pm
2
6
Hate, hate, hate, and more hate.
Unpublished

And when they think they can't hate anymore they somehow manage to reach deep in side and dig out more hate, and hate some more. What a way to go through life.

InChristLove
22460
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InChristLove 07/08/13 - 07:35 pm
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fedex227, there is no hate

fedex227, there is no hate here, only tired of the same old drama. You are correct, what a way to go through life, having to publically proclaim whom you are sexually attracted to just to get publicity and hope it works to your advantage so you can get a step above all the other girls. Use to be a lady kept her personal business to herself.

InChristLove
22460
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InChristLove 07/09/13 - 05:36 am
2
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Don't see how I'm confused

Don't see how I'm confused palmetto. I know I was born a female, know I have female genitalia, and know I'm attracted to the opposite sex (male). Nothing confusing about that.

Yeah, it's all the same to me.....drama.

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