Former Miss Kentucky Comes Out of the Closet, Making Her The First Openly Queer Miss America Contestant Ever
Well this is awesome. Former Miss Kentucky and Miss America contestant Djuan Keila Trent recently announced on her personal blog, "I am queer." In a heartfelt and moving piece she describes just how difficult it was for her to write those words, saying that even though it might seem like an easy thing to type, "my armpits are sweating, my mind is racing, and my hands are shaking just a bit."
And it's understandable to be nervous. Not only is coming out a difficult process for anyone, Trent's announcement also makes her the first out Miss America contestant ever. That's right, as hard as it may be to believe, no openly gay contestant has ever competed in the national Miss America pageant. Seriously, USA? Seriously? I mean, we have had lesbian contestants at the state level, but none have ever gone on to the national competition. Meanwhile, over in the UK they're inching closer to crowning a trans contestant. I'm just saying.
Trent writes that she wrestled with the decision to come out publicly for years. "Ideally," she writes, "I would love to one day live in a society where coming out is no longer necessary because we don't make assumptions about one another's sexuality and homophobia is laid to rest." But as we all know too well, we don't live in that society. And so Trent says she understands those who choose to stay in the closet. "If you choose to keep it to yourself, you are well within your rights to do so," she writes.
However, she also writes that she feels that when people come out, be they celebrities or simply normal, everyday people, it creates "a sense of community, letting others know that they are not alone," and at the same time also creates "a sense of awareness amongst your friends, family, and peers, letting them know that this hits a lot closer to home than they may have realized." It is for this reason, in conjunction with the anti-LGBT bigotry she says she often sees in her home state, that she has chosen to go from LGBT supporter to openly queer.
"I have realized that there is really no way for people to know that I disagree with their views or, even moreso [sic], to know that they are talking about me, unless I actually open my mouth and say it," she writes.
In a world where we have both people who ask why coming out is still a big deal and states who are trying to pass homophobic legislation, Trent's post speaks beautifully both to why LGBT acceptance is important, and why coming out is still very much a big deal. Not only is it a huge personal decision, but it also continues to affect our society. Djuan Keija Trent, those who have come before her, and those who will come after are slowly but surely paving the way to a better world.
You can read her full post here.