Miss Missouri, Erin O’ Flaherty, will take the stage this weekend at the Miss America pageant as the “first openly” lesbian contestant.
The 23-year-old beauty queen, who was crowned the winner in June, said she knew going in she had the chance to “make history,” according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, (RELATED: No More Swimsuit Competition At Miss Teen USA)
“Behind the scenes, we’ve been well-represented, but I’m the first openly gay title holder, so I’m very excited,” O’ Flaherty said. “I knew going in that I had the opportunity to make history. Now I get to be more visible to the community and meet more people.”
Miss Missouri is the first Miss America contestant to win a title after coming out of the closet.(RELATED: First Black Miss Alabama: Dallas Shooter Is A ‘Martyr’ [VIDEO])
— Miss Missouri (@MissAmericaMO) August 31, 2016
The chief operating officer of the Miss America Organization, Josh Randle, said their pageant is reflecting “our nation’s evolution.”
“Through every major milestone of our nation’s evolution, Miss America has provided a voice for women from all walks of life, and, this year, we welcome our first openly gay contestant,” Randle said. “Miss America contestants continue to be the best and brightest in the country, and we proudly support each and every young woman who competes in our national program.”
Preliminary competition starts Tuesday and the winner will be crowned on Sunday night.