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Dear Miriam,

It is with great disappointment and a heavy heart that I have to address this Dear Pageant Girl entry to you.

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As someone that I have put on a pedestal for the graceful and elegant way you represented the country of my birth in the 1999 Miss Universe pageant I find it hard to swallow the antiquated and ignorant remarks you have made on Twitter recently:

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By this time I have no doubt that you have found yourself in the midst of another hurricane from the LGBT community.  I would have thought that by this time you have learned your lesson after the time you decided to put in your two cents about the Jenna Talackova issue. 

Just to remind you of what you said, you disagreed with the MUO’s decision to allow transsexuals to compete at the Miss Universe competition because it is “only for REAL women”.

You then supported this statement with “just because it’s popular doesn’t make it right.”

To add salt to the wound you proceeded to Tweet to Mr Trump himself:

 “@realDonaldTrump in my humble opinion, the decision to include transgenders in the @MissUniverse pageant sends the wrong message.

 “This may set a precedent that one day most participants in @MissUniverse are transgenders. #essenceofawoman? #majormistake @realDonaldTrump”

Miriam, one of the things I tell my pageant girls is to be true to themselves and to speak from the heart.  To never be afraid to stand for something even if it courts controversy as long as you can back it up with an intelligent argument. 

I praise women with a strong opinion and who have the courage of their convictions to stand up for what they believe in.  From my observations of late, they just don’t make beauty queens like they used to.

But if your comments are anything to go by, I thank God that they no longer do.

You see, while I believe in freedom of speech, I also believe in human rights and one’s right to respect and dignity.  I also believe in educated opinions, tolerance, acceptance and love.  Even if it’s towards someone of the same sex and gender.

As a role model, you have a social responsibility and your remarks of late have shown me nothing but gross irresponsibility.

I am of the belief that beauty queens stand for the ideal of unity rather than division and essentially the nature of your message is one of hate, intolerance and bigotry.  It is statements like yours that fuel homophobic attacks.

This morning you Tweeted: “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”

Well I am definitely no fool and since you asked for it, I shan’t be holding my tongue – and I will tell you why.

Are you aware that according to studies conducted by The Suicide Prevention Resource Centre, 30-40% of LGB youth depending on age and sex groups have attempted suicide?

A U.S Government study also found that LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than other young people.

Inflammatory remarks like the one you made do not help these figures.

Instead of educating and reaching out to those that cry out for help you have unwittingly (through blind faith mind you) shown them judgment.

I have no problem in your dedication to your faith.

I have no problem in your choice to believe in the things you believe in.

I have no doubt that many of my own family members who are of your vintage and older share your same views.

But unlike you, they choose to keep it to themselves, sharing it with no one else but their maker.  Not because of fear of reprisal from the “modern” crowd and not because it’s the right thing to do, but because it is the kind thing to do.

Now, I did see your ‘apology’: “I’m sorry LGBT. Perhaps I was too harsh with the words I used. “Will do my best to be more sensitive. #respect #nobodysperfect #grace” but even that reeked of self-righteousness that I can’t help but feel that it was a somewhat backhanded attempt at an apology.

This industry can be cruel.

It will use you up and chew you out.  And while I personally have witnessed how some beauty queens that I have worked with change and become people I no longer recognize, I can attest firsthand the feeling of disappointment and pain that comes with the ultimate betrayal of judging and belittling the very community that supported your rise to pageant stardom.

While we cannot take back what is already out there, hopefully Miriam you can take the time to reflect on your words and maybe, just maybe you will think twice before airing your personal convictions out in a public space.

Now I always tell my pageant girls as a rule “to keep God out of it” but I will make an exception just this once.

I too believe in your God of Love. 

Last time I checked, God loved us too.

Unless I get a personal visit from The Almighty to tell me otherwise, I choose to keep believing this and will continue to be proud of myself.

Just the way God created me.

 

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