Every new year, Pasadena, California plays host to the Rose Bowl football game and its accompanying parade. In addition to lavishly decorated flower floats, this year’s parade will be extra special to for the LGBTQ community.
For the first time, the Rose Parade Queen is an out member of the queer community. This year’s queen, Louise Siskel, will hold court during the 130th Tournament of Roses Parade this coming Tuesday, January 1, 2019. In addition to being the first openly queer Rose Bowl Queen, Siskel will be the first Jewish queen, and the first to wear glasses. Siskel is a senior in high school and participates in her school’s judicial committee and debate team. A rising star in the sciences, Siskel has even worked on research at The Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and NASA.
Siskel says she first entered the competition on a whim, but came to find something very valuable about the experience, saying that being selected for the Rose Bowl Royal court gives young women “a real voice.” Siskel is also promoting a New Year’s message as queen. Her New Year’s Address calls for openness and hard work.
“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,” Siskel will announce. Her address will also call for people to be open to people, “particularly people who are completely unlike yourself.”
The parade itself has long been a site of social protest and change. In 1990, the queer group ACT UP blocked the parade with a large banner that read, “Emergency. Stop the parade. 70,000 dead of AIDS.” In 2014, one float featured a same-sex marriage ceremony, and in 2017, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s float was a tribute to the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre.
You can support our new queer Rose Bowl Queen by watching the Rose Bowl Parade live on NBC on January 1, 2019.