The LGBTQ community has been slowly but surely making strides to have its presence reflected in modern day culture — Finding Dory, for instance, features a trans character and may also be the first Disney film to include a first lesbian couple.
Now, Erin O’Flaherty, AKA the new Miss Missouri, is making history for her community as the first openly gay contestant to be crowned with the title. What’s more, though the organization has yet to confirm the stat, O’Flaherty may also become the first openly gay contestant to compete for the crown of Miss America come this fall!
While it was surely an exciting day for everyone, no one was more stoked than Miss Missouri herself. “I don’t know that I intended to be the first, but I am,” she told the Associated Press. “So I’m very excited about it.”
Making the milestone even more impactful are Erin’s ties to a very closely related issue: suicide prevention. The organization announced via the Miss Missouri Instagram page that Erin would spend the year promoting awareness for the cause (her personal platform) and taking over the page to share her progress.
This is of particular note when you consider the fact that, as she pointed out to Cosmopolitan, LGBTQ youth are eight times more likely to try commit suicide than their peers. Her platform will also focus in particular on the Trevor project, a 24hr national hotline service for gay and questioning youth.
Though the new reigning state winner told Cosmo that she is excited to rep the LGBTQ community as a whole, for her, it was a natural next step. “I knew that once I was open about it, I would do much better in pageants because I would know I was presenting who I really was,” she said.
Cheers to that, girl! We’ll be rooting for you!
Are you excited for this historic news? Let us know over @BritandCo!