I’ve never been a big fan of one way beauty pageants choose to award scholarship money to young women (Swimsuits! Why did it have to be swimsuits!). But pageant contestants using the competition to campaign for LGBT rights and gender-based activism? I’ll take that!
Last year, Miss D.C. 2009 Jen Corey campaigned on a recycling platform, “Let’s Talk Trash!” Once crowned, though, Corey devoted significant effort in her reign to speaking out against public sexual assault in the District and voicing her support for D.C.’s LGBT community.
Just last night, Claire Buffie was named Miss New York 2010 in this year’s Miss America pageant on a platform of gay rights. (Local angle: She designed Corey’s website!) From Buffie’s official bio:
Miss New York 2010, Claire Buffie, is an outspoken advocate of human rights, opening the dialogue about equality amoungst youth, teens and adults alike with her platform “Straight for Equality: Let’s Talk.” The issues of gay rights make up the civil rights movement of our generation and reach far beyond marriage equality. As Miss New York 2010, Claire aims to break the stigma of marginalized youth, eliminating discriminatory vocabulary and changing the climate in New York schools. She celebrates diversity and the things that make us all unique and aims to instill pride, dignity and respect in developing minds and compassionate hearts. This will be a year of change in New York State and Claire is ready to support this incredible movement.
It’s an interesting moment for America when the most traditional of contests for women begins championing the rights of people who are marginalized based on gender and sexual orientation. Buffie’s Twitter stream offers a look at what life is like for a woman juggling pageant duties and LGBT activism. Turns out it includes regular work-outs, some spray-tan application, and plenty of PFLAG meetings—-and that’s all on top of her day job. “Awesome Photoshoot with @nycpageants and bianca Thomas and now off to the Straight for Equality Gala with @pflagnyc!!” one Tweet reads. Here’s another: “Work. @pflagnyc board meeting. Work out. Dance. @GLEEonFOX ! Reply to 945793 emails. Sleep. Can I eat in there somewhere?” Let’s hope the answer to that last question is “yes.”