The 2019 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena is poised to be a year of novelty. Not only is the newly selected Rose Queen, Louise Deser Siskel of San Marino, the first Jewish girl to wear the crown, she is also the first member of the LGBT community to lead the Rose Court down Pasadena’s Colorado Blvd. Media outlets also specified that she is the first Rose Queen to wear glasses.
According to Pasadena Star News, Louise Deser Siskel never imagined herself being a princess (not to mention a queen). But after multiple interviews with the Tournament of Roses organization, she realized her values aligned with it more than she initially thought.
“I entered (the Rose Court search) on sort of a whim, but as I continued to return for the interview rounds, and throughout the whole process, I realized the value of the Tournament of Roses, and the role it plays in our community,” Siskel told the outlet. “Each year, the (Tournament) selects seven young women (for the Royal Court) and gives them a real voice; for that I feel very thankful.”
Throughout the interview process, Siskel was entirely transparent about her LGBT identity and the causes she advocates for.
“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,” she said. “I feel lucky that I was selected by the committee for those reasons. That, to me, gives me great faith in the organization and a great amount of respect for the committee.”
No doubt, Siskel has an impressive list of credentials. She serves as a member of the debate team and judicial committee at Sequoyah High School, as well as the YMCA Youth & Government. She has also researched breast cancer under Dr. Shehla Pervin at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. After high school, Siskel plans to study molecular biology.
Siskel credits her family and friends for supporting her throughout the process. “My parents help me do everything, they spend late nights talking to me, and I love my brother eternally,” she said. “And my friends, who will be camping out and in the stands on the Rose Parade route, I’m so thankful for all of those people.”
The Pasadena Rose Parade has been a forum for LGBT novelty in the past. In 2014, the parade featured a same-sex wedding on one of its floats, the third wedding ceremony ever performed live at the parade — the first being in 1989, which was then considered the “most widely witnessed wedding in American history.” The second wedding took place in 2013 as part of a contest conducted by Farmers Insurance before Proposition-8 had been struck down by the Supreme Court. Farmers Insurance had planned to repeat the contest for the 2014 float but instead opted to honor teachers.
This past November, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York also made history on its 92nd birthday by showing on live TV the first-ever same-sex kiss featured in the parade. The kiss came during a performance from the Broadway musical “The Prom.”
“Actors, including leads Caitlin Kinnunen and Isabelle McCalla, burst out of the theater and into the streets for Macy’s big holiday parade Thursday,” Entertainment Weekly reported. “Closing out their performance of the big number, Kinnunen and McCalla shared a kiss on live television, which appears to be the first same-sex kiss in the parade’s history.”