We stan a queer queen!
Siskel is a senior at Pasadena's Sequoyah High School, where she is a member of the debate team and judicial committee.
The 18-year-old San Marino resident says she entered the 2019 Rose Court search "on sort of a whim" but came to realize "the value of the Tournament of Roses, and the role it plays in our community,” adding that the organization gives the young women on its court "a real voice; for that I feel very thankful."
Siskel feels especially honored to be the Rose Parade's first Jewish queen, the first queen with glasses, and first queen who identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community.
“What was important to me throughout the interview process was that I was completely transparent about who I was, about the things that I value, and about the things that I advocate for,” she says.
“I feel lucky that I was selected by the committee for those reasons. That, to me, gives me great faith in the organization and a great amount of respect for the committee.”
The Rose Parade celebrates the new year with marching bands, celebrities, and floral-decorated vehicles. This year's royal court has made more than 100 appearances as Tournament of Roses ambassadors.
Siskel has an official New Year's message for her royal subjects:
“First and foremost, I wish everyone a happy and healthy new year. A year filled with laughter and joy, with community, and with openness—openness to people who are completely unlike yourself. And openness to the people in your life, and constant support of those people who make such a difference in each of our lives, and without whom we couldn’t do any of the things we strive to do.
“Secondly, 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.
“I think it can be easy to get discouraged when people don’t share the same passion for your values or for the things that you care about, but I hope that people continue to fight for the things that are important to them, regardless of the support they see from others.”
Siskel is active in the YMCA Youth & Government program and has done research with The Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science and NASA. She plans to study cellular and molecular biology after high school with the goal of becoming a surgeon.
The televised Rose Parade has grown more progressive and inclusive in recent years, the Los Angeles Blade reports. A gay couple got married on a float in 2014, and the parade has featured an AIDS Healthcare Foundation float honoring victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting.
In 2017 Olympian Greg Louganis made history as the first openly gay grand marshal to lead the Rose Parade.
Chaka Khan will perform as the 2019 Rose Parade's grand marshal, the parade's first black sole grand marshal and first singer since Frank Sinatra in 1980.
The 130th Rose Parade will take place January 1.