On Saturday, lesbian Erin O’Flaherty, 23, was crowned Miss Missouri 2016.O’Flaherty said she came out as gay at 18, competed openly and knew going into the Miss Missouri pageant that “she’d be making history if she won,” said the YouTube description.
“I’m on cloud nine really just to be Miss Missouri,” O’Flaherty said. “I don’t know that I intended to be the first, but I am. So I’m very excited about it.”
O’Flaherty believes she also will be the first openly gay woman to compete in the Miss America scholarship pageant, which is scheduled for Sept. 11 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The Mexico Ledger in Missouri provided details, saying the pageant lets O’Flaherty promote her platform Suicide Prevention – We are All Responsible.
“In high school, my best friend committed suicide,” she said. The paper said she realised later if she had known more about suicide, there might have been something she could have done to prevent her friend from taking her own life.
A graduate of the University of Central Florida, majoring in Legal Studies, she wants to use her $11,500 scholarship prize toward her student loans.
“My focus of my year isn’t going to be that I’m gay,” O’Flaherty said. “It’s certainly a big part of who I am, and I will be promoting it and raising awareness for the LGBT community. But also there will be many appearances that I do that have nothing to do with that. And so I’m hoping that I can strike a really nice balance of staying true to the values of Miss Missouri and also being able to exercise my personal views.”