Louise Deser Siskel has revealed that she will be the first openly LGBT+ Rose Queen in the history of the Rose Parade.
The 2019 Rose Parade on January 1 will be the 130th anniversary of the event in Pasadena, California—and Siskel has become the first of the parade‘s 101 queens to announce that she’s queer, according to Pasadena Star-News.
The Sequoyah High School senior said that she was the first queen to be queer, Jewish or wear glasses.
She explained: “What was important to me throughout the interview process was that I was completely transparent about who I was, about the things that I value, and about the things that I advocate for.”
The 2019 Rose Queen, who is part of the University of Chicago’s graduating class of 2023 and plans to major in cellular and molecular biology before becoming a surgeon, continued: “I feel lucky that I was selected by the committee for those reasons.
“That, to me, gives me great faith in the organisation and a great amount of respect for the committee,” added Siskel, who joins a list of Rose Queens including One Tree Hill and John Tucker Must Die actress Sophie Bush.
The teenager, who comes from San Marino, California, also told Pasadena Now that her friends “are all camping out on the parade route, and my parents will be there in the stands along with a lot of my other relatives.
The Tournament of Roses Association, which runs the Rose Parade, confirmed that Siskel had made the statement, adding that it does not require participants to reveal details about their race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.
In her New Year’s message as Rose Queen, Siskel will call on Californians to create a 2019 filled with “openness,” particularly to “people who are completely unlike yourself.”
She will also urge people to involve themselves in activism even in the face of hate, saying: “I encourage everyone to stay engaged and active within your community, advocate and fight for the things you believe in, regardless of whether other people respond or care about those things in the way you do.”
“I think it can be easy to get discouraged when people don’t share the same passion for your values or for the things that you care about, but I hope that people continue to fight for the things that are important to them, regardless of the support they see from others,” the speech continues.