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Woman is Long Beach's first openly lesbian pageant contestant

November 8, 2011 |  8:32 am

Jenelle Hutcherson
When Jenelle Hutcherson hits the runway at Miss Long Beach and Miss Southern California cities pageant this weekend, she will make history as the first openly lesbian contestant in the competition.

The 25-year-old master hair artist will also be the first to be rocking a Mohawk, tattoos, a pierced nose and small black ear plug-ins.

"I'm not a down-in-heels type of girl," Hutcherson said in a phone interview.

For the swimwear competition, Hutcherson will be flaunting her handmade boy shorts and tank top inspired by 1930s men’s and women’s swimwear.  And for evening wear, she’s ditching the gown and heels for a royal purple tux.

Hutcherson, who moved from Bakersfield three years ago to work at the Den Salon in downtown Long Beach, said she got the idea to enter the competition during a conversation with Justin Rudd, the director of the pageant, while she was cutting his hair.

"It was an epic conversation," she said. "He started to tell me about this pageant and for a second I thought, 'Oh wow, a business connection. How does one get involved?'"

But, Hutcherson added, "I didn’t quite clarify that."

Rudd proceeded to tell her how she could enter the pageant. He said her wild colors, tattoos and her individuality would all be embraced.

"He gave me no reasons not to join," Hutcherson said.

She said she hopes that by participating in the pageant she’ll help spread a message of equality, diversity and creativity, but also unite Long Beach's large gay community. 

Her bold personality has received the attention of local newspapers, bloggers and most recently Donald Trump’s Miss California USA pageant, which she'll participate in because she can take her message further.

She's looking for financial sponsorships and donations, she said. She's started a Facebook fan page, where she uploads videos and photos, and updates her progress in the pageant.

"I believe this very well may be the craziest, most insane, life experience i have put myself through yet! I am lovin' every bit of it!! How exciting!!! On to my to-do list!!" she wrote recently.

Hutcherson's said she's been trying to get the attention of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" for support, but has had no luck, she said. A representative for the show could not be reached for comment.

For this weekend’s pageant at the Grand Long Beach Event Center, Hutcherson is supported by people in the community and the Board of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center of Long Beach, where she is also a part-time volunteer.


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Photo: Jenelle Hutcherson, a master hair artist in Long Beach, will be the first openly lesbian pageant contestant. Credit: Courtesy of Jenelle Hutcherson