Miss Missouri Erin O’Flaherty will participate in the Miss America 2016 pageant to be held on Sep.11. The 23-year-old is the first openly lesbian contestant.
O’Flaherty is the first Miss America contestant to win a state title after coming out. She will compete with a host of contestants on Sunday, ABC reports. The Miss America pageant reflects “an evolving America,” said Josh Randle, CEO of the Miss America Organization.
Miss Missouri being gay will not affect her work
“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,” he said. Randle added that the contestants of the pageant are the best and brightest in the country.
Erin O’Flaherty participation in Miss America has got nothing to do with the fact that she is gay. She has always been proud to be a part of the LGBT community.
Miss Missouri to shine the light on suicide prevention
Miss Missouri will shine the light on suicide prevention, an issue she says is particularly important with young gay people. Erin O’Flaherty who grew up in Florence, South Carolina has had her share of struggle with her sexuality when she was growing up.
She will focus on the Trevor Project, an organization which is dedicated to preventing suicide among LGBT youth.
Erin O’Flaherty struggled with her identity
The clothing store owner called herself a “feminine girl.” Erin O’Flaherty won her first beauty pageant as Miss UCF (University of Central Florida). Then she came out as openly gay at 18.
“Knowing I might be gay but also being very feminine was kind of confusing for me,” O’Flaherty told Cosmopolitan in June. She added it took her many years of struggle to figure out who she was.
Erin has a day job
When Erin O’Flaherty is relatively free from her Miss America 2016 pageant work, she works in her boutique or clothing store called Rachel’s Grove in Chesterfield, Missouri, according to Morning Ledger.
The family owned business is run by her mother, aunt, and sister. “The dream to open Rachel’s Grove was centered on the family’s connection through a shared love for designer fashion and the desire to leave a legacy of awakening confidence in every woman by enabling self-expression through our selections,” the website says.
Also Read: ‘Miss Universe 2016’ Update: Contestants & Photos
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