Queen Louise Siskel Talks About Being the Rose Parade’s First Openly LGBTQ Rose Queen

Honoring what she describes as the Tournament of Roses’ tradition of diversity, Queen Louise said she feels “responsibility” to share she is member of LGBTQ community

Published : Monday, December 31, 2018 | 6:19 AM

2019 Rose Queen Louise Deser Siskel. Image courtesy Tournament of Roses

In keeping with what she described as the Tournament of Roses’ tradition of inclusivity, 2019 Rose Queen Louise Siskel said in an interview with Pasadena Now at Tournament House that she felt a responsibility to share with the public that she identifies as being a member of the LGBTQ community.

Siskel, 18, said she hopes that in making this known the LGBTQ community will feel included in the Tournament tradition, “because I think it’s a wonderful one.”

Siskel also said believes herself to be the Tournament’s first Jewish Rose Queen. And the first to wear — and be photographed wearing — eyeglasses.

“I hope that by publicly identifying myself as a member of those different communities,” Siskel said, “people will see that those are included and celebrated within [the Tournament of Roses] tradition.”

“While I am almost certainly not the first member of the LGBTQ community on the Court, I hope that by saying so publicly, I might encourage others to be proud of who they are,”
Siskel said

“The Parade and the Court are symbols of our community and its values. They are intended to bring people together in a celebration filled with joy and a sense of possibility.”

Queen Louise was announced as the 101st Rose Queen by Tournament of Roses President Gerald Freeny, the first African American President of the Association, on October 23. She is a senior at Sequoyah High School in Pasadena and lives in San Marino with her parents and brother.

As Queen of this year’s Royal Court with its six Princesses, Siskel said, “we are one of the most diverse courts that has ever been selected in the Tournament of Roses’ history. It’s important to us that people feel like they see themselves in the Court, and that people feel that this tradition is really for them.”

Siskel said she announced her message of identity not so much as one of advocacy as one of simple openness: “a chance to be myself and to be an example for other people of someone being open and proud of who they are.”

“I hope that other people might take courage from that, to do the same,” Siskel said.

“The Tournament of Roses places a high value on being diverse throughout the organization and it is our goal to continually improve and be reflective of our community,” said David Eads, Executive Director and CEO of the Tournament of Roses. “We are proud to support our Royal Court, as ambassadors of the Tournament of Roses, they exemplify youth leadership, academic achievement, and community and school involvement. They represent the diverse and inclusive principles that the Association celebrates year-around.”

Tournament Senior Communications Manager Candy Carlson said the Tournament of Roses does not ask participants to disclose information concerning race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation during the Royal Court selection process. The Royal Court is selected based upon a combination of qualities, including public speaking ability, youth leadership, academic achievement, and community and school involvement.

In a written statement, Queen Louise spoke directly to the public:

“I can’t wait to see you at the Rose Parade. But more to the point, I hope you see yourself in the Rose Parade too.”