SPARTANBURG — Analouisa Valencia, a 19-year-old beauty queen from Spartanburg, regularly gets interview requests from across the country, and despite her natural shyness, she accepts them all.
As the first openly lesbian contestant for Miss South Carolina and one of a small number of multi-racial contestants, Valencia has had her picture in national, regional, local and niche publications this spring.
Interview after interview is difficult for the girl who cried during a middle-school science presentation because she was gripped by stage fright. But Valencia, whose father is Mexican and mother is black, has forced herself to open up because every interview allows her to advocate equal rights for all people.
She said she hopes to continue her crusade as Miss South Carolina, but if the reigning Miss Lyman doesn’t win the state crown in July, she said the grueling schedule will still be well worth the effort if she can sway one person’s opinion.
“The change is way more important than the crown,” Valencia said.
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