A lesbian beauty queen will represent the state of Missouri in this year’s Miss America pageant.
Erin O’Flaherty, 23, became the first openly gay contestant in the pageant’s 95-year history after being crowned Miss Missouri.
The clothing store owner, who came out at the age of 18, told Associated Press she was on cloud nine.
“I don’t know that I intended to be the first, but I am. So I’m very excited about it,” she said.
O’Flaherty, whose pageant platform is suicide prevention, said she was hoping to strike a balance of staying true to the values of Miss Missouri and also being able to exercise her personal views.
“My focus of my year isn’t going to be that I’m gay,” she said. “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 Miss America pageant will be held in Atlantic City on September 11.