This Miss America Contestant Is Going to Make History

June 24th 2016

Tricia Tongco

On Saturday, 23-year-old Erin O’Flaherty was crowned as Miss Missouri, becoming the first open lesbian to win the pageant, according to Ann Jolly, the chairwoman of the board of the Miss Missouri Scholarship Organization.

As a result, she has also made history by becoming the first openly gay Miss America contestant in the competition's 95-year history.

Flaherty, a clothing store owner who came out when she was 18, told the Riverfront Times:

“My coming out was very public, which was hard because you want it to be very private. The public access to that was very challenging because I wanted to protect my relationship and who I am, and come to terms with myself before the rest of the world got a chance to.”

In an interview with the Associated Press, she said:

"My focus of my year isn't going to be that I'm gay. 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."

The historic Miss America pageant is scheduled to take place on September 11 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

[h/t Jezebel]