For the first time in history, the Miss South Carolina Pageant has an openly gay contestant. She's also multi-racial. And many people are calling her the new face of the South.
It's “take two” for beauty queen Ana Louisa Valencia, who next week will compete against 48 other contestants to wine the title of Miss South Carolina.
“Last year I did compete at state but I wasn't as comfortable because of the fact I was hiding who I was. This is my first year coming out and saying, 'This is me girls, sorry, I'm going to be changing in the same dressing room as you, this is what's going to happen.' “
Just who she is is making history in South Carolina and across the nation.
“I'm the first openly lesbian contestant in the Miss America system, and the first bilingual contestant we've had.”
With three titles already under her belt, Valencia's family says her success helps represent the changing face of the South. But it's a change that has been met with criticism.
“She's just a product of that change and it's something people here are getting used to.”
“A lot of the older generation, they look down upon it.”
Valencia says it's her passion for coaching Special Olympic athletes that she wants the judges to remember, rather that what she identifies herself as personally.
“We'll see how it turns out. If it turns out where I can bring that crown home to Spartanburg that would be great, but if not… I did what the lord had planned for me.”
The competition is next week, with a winner to be crowned a week from Saturday.
The winner will get a $25,000 scholarship.