Rose Parade makes history with first bisexual Rose Queen

Lesbian Rose Queen Rose Parade

Louise Deser Siskel will make history next week during the Rose Parade as the first Rose Queen to publicly identify as a bisexual. Photo: Pasadena Tournament of Roses

Louise Deser Siskel will make history next week during the Rose Parade as the first Rose Queen to publicly identify as a bisexual.

Siskel, the 101st Rose Queen, will hold court over the 130th Tournament of Roses Parade Tuesday.

Candy Carlson, a spokeswoman with the Tournament of Roses, confirmed Siskel’s place in history.

“The Tournament of Roses values diversity and is committed to reflecting the community in which we live,” Carlson told Q Voice News in a statement. “Over the years, the Tournament of Roses has worked diligently to promote diversity in every part of the organization. We are proud that our Royal Court members, volunteer members and Association leadership represent the fabric of our community.”

Siskel wasn’t available for an interview, Carlson said.

Siskel isn’t the first member of the LGBTQ community to make history at the Rose Parade. In 2017, Olympian Greg Louganis became the the first grand marshal who publicly identifies as gay.

Rose Parade float designer Raul R. Rodriguez also publicly identified as gay. Rodriguez, who died in 2015 at the age of 71, designed 528 Rose Parade floats during his 38-year career and won the Sweepstakes Trophy, the parade’s highest honor for most beautiful entry with outstanding floral presentation and design, 31 times – more than any other designer.

Here’s what we know about Siskel’s selection, her achievements, and her plans after high school.

  • Siskel’s announcement was made in October by 2019 Tournament of Roses President Gerald Freeny and followed a month-long selection process with 24 Pasadena area schools participating in interviews.
  • The Rose Queen and Royal Court were selected based upon a combination of qualities, including public speaking ability, academic achievement, youth leadership, and community and school involvement.
  • During the coronation ceremony, Siskel received a Mikimoto crown featuring more than 600 cultured pearls and six carats of diamonds.
  • Siskel and the Royal Court have attended numerous community and media functions, serving as ambassadors of the Tournament of Roses, the Pasadena community, and the greater Los Angeles area.
  • The grand finale will be their appearance on the Royal Court float in the Rose Parade and attendance at the 105th Rose Bowl Game Tuesday.
  • Siskel is a senior at Sequoyah High School and lives in San Marino.
  • She is a member of her high school’s debate team and judicial committee as well as YMCA Youth and Government.
  • Her research in space biology has been funded by NASA Ames.
  • Siskel conducts breast cancer research at Charles Drew University and plans to study cellular and molecular biology.
  • Siskel would like to attend Johns Hopkins University, University of Chicago, or Tufts University.
  • Siskel is the daughter of Charlie Siskel and Abigail Deser.
  • Siskel has one brother, Simon.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected. Louise Deser Siskel is the first Rose Queen to publicly identify as bisexual.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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