Erin O’Flaherty was recently crowned Miss Missouri at the state pageant in the city of Mexico, Missouri on Saturday.
This makes her the first out lesbian to be crowned.
Speaking to the Associated Press this week, O’Flaherty said she came out as gay at the age of 18.
I’m on cloud nine really just to be Miss Missouri. I don’t know that I intended to be the first, but I am. So I’m very excited about it.”
O’Flaherty will also be the first out gay woman to compete in the Miss America scholarship pageant.
The competition will take place in Atlantic City on 11 September.
She hopes winning Miss Missouri and moving on to the Miss America pageant sends a message to any other young LGBT members who hope to compete someday.
I think it’s really nice that maybe somebody in the state might be able to relate to me and think they can do this too. I don’t think I had that when I was growing up.”
O’Flaherty will head to Atlantic City, New Jersey, for the national competition in September. She says while the reality of winning Miss Missouri hasn’t quite set in yet, she’s ready.