INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana woman is breaking barriers in the pageant world. This July, Miss Indiana USA will have a contestant who also holds the title of Miss Pride of Indiana.
Lydia Tremaine is a former Miss Indiana for the Miss America pageant and she said that competing while openly living her truth has been the most rewarding feeling in her pageant career to date.
"There was no representation," Tremaine said. "I never saw a queer woman hold the title, so I thought that's not the feathers I wanted to ruffle at a 20-year-old age."
It was a tough decision for pageant queen Tremaine, hoping her truth wouldn't keep her from making it to the big stage.
"I told myself a huge lie in my time competing in that industry and that was telling myself that I couldn't be openly queer and be successful at the same time," Tremaine said.
Tremaine has had much success through pageantry. For years, she competed in the Miss America pageant system, winning the title of Miss Indiana America in 2018. Now, she's preparing to compete for Miss Indiana USA in July.
Although these are certainly great accomplishments that any pageant contestant would love to achieve, Tremaine explained there was always one hurdle keeping her from being her authentic self.
"Now, I'm in this new venture in life. I'm 23 years old. I've come into myself. I've come out of the closet as a pansexual and I'm so proud of that," Tremaine said. "I'm no longer telling myself the lie that we cannot be queer in pageantry.
Tremaine said it was her own mother's experience coming out a decade ago that made this decision even more powerful.
"Even having a queer mother, it was still hard for me to make that decision to come out because I saw the hate she faced. I was in the church, and she was in the ministry for a long time, and we had the ministry just reject us. I had people who are lifelong friends in the ministry no longer affiliate with us anymore. Children when I was 12 years old were no long allowed to hang out with me," Tremaine said. "I was being bullied by people my age and adults because of my mother coming out so this made me even more fearful. Thankfully, through watching her journey, watching her resilience, watching her become such a strong, independent, God-fearing woman as a queer woman; it inspired me to take up this space."
Tremaine said she came out as a queer woman about a year ago. After announcing her title as Miss Pride of Indiana on Monday, she ha received an overwhelming amount of love from other pageant queens across the country.
She hopes that her truth will set the stage for others.
"I think in any modeling pageant industry, we do have a bad habit of telling women they have to fit a certain role. Whether that's sexuality, religious beliefs, whatever that may be. It's such a disservice because at the age that women are competing is at a young age, these are our affirmative years," Tremaine said. "These are organizations that claim they want to empower us. I believe that the direction that Miss USA is going, and Miss America is going, they're both organizations to empower women.
If Tremaine wins the Miss Indiana USA title, she would be the second person to hold state titles in both Miss USA and Miss America. She would also become the first queer woman to hold that title in Indiana.
WRTV reached out to Indy Pride, and received the following statement congratulating Tremaine and her courageous act:
"We celebrate that Lydia feels comfortable representing her authentic self to the public. It's extremely important for LGBTQ people, especially youth, to see people that look and love like them achieving success in the world. We love seeing empowered young women using their voice and public platform to shine a spotlight on what LGBTQ people are capable of and inspire others to rise up.”
-Tiffany Hanson, Director of Marketing and Communications, Indy Pride, Inc.