Meet Miss America’s first openly lesbian contestant


Meet-Miss-America's-first-lesbian-contestantA 23-year-old woman has become the first openly gay Miss America contestant in the pageant’s 95-year history.

South Carolina-born Erin O’Flaherty was crowned Miss Missouri last Saturday, automatically making her one of the competitors in the national contest.

“I’m on cloud nine really just to be Miss Missouri,” she told Associated Press after beating out 29 other contenders. “I don’t know that I intended to be the first [gay winner], but I am. So I’m very excited about it.”

O’Flaherty came out at the age of 18 and revealed that she had been open about her sexuality throughout the Miss Missouri pageant.

“I had my concerns about it. Progressive is not exactly a word people might think of when you think Missouri,” she admitted to the Riverfront Times.

O’Flaherty, who owns a clothing store, is an ambassador for the Children’s Miracle Network and a passionate advocate for suicide prevention, especially among LGBT youth.

She explained that while LGBT issues won’t be the focus of her reign as Miss Missouri, “I certainly hope my presence will help people open up a little bit more.”

She added: “I’m very open about it. It’s never going to be something I try to hide because I’m very proud to be a member of the LGBT community.”

Erin O’Flaherty

Erin O’Flaherty

In her first post on Facebook as Miss Missouri 2016, O’Flaherty wrote: “….eek! I am SO excited for the year ahead and to serve this amazing state… I can’t thank everyone enough for the support and encouragement I’ve received so far. Every word means more than you know.”

Miss America will take place on September 11 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

In 2014, Miss Spain, Patricia Yurena Rodriguez, became the first national beauty pageant title holder to come out as lesbian.

Back in South Africa, in March, it was announced that Leandra Joubert was the first openly gay woman to make the top 100 selection in the annual Mrs South Africa pageant. Unfortunately she did not make the top 25.

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