Twenty-three-year-old Erin O’Flaherty made history over the weekend, becoming the first-ever openly gay woman to be crowned Miss Missouri. She will represent her state at the Miss America pageant later this year. “I’m on cloud nine really just to be Miss Missouri,” O’Flaherty said. “I don’t know that I intended to be the first, but I am. So I’m very excited about it.”
O’Flaherty, who hails from South Carolina and owns a clothing store in St. Louis, believes she will also be the first-ever openly gay candidate to compete in the Miss America pageant. She said she would focus her platform on suicide prevention, and was planning on reaching out to the gay community, but did not want to make her sexuality the sole focus of her year. “It’s certainly a big part of who I am, and I will be promoting it and raising awareness for the LGBT community,” she told The Associated Press. “But also there will be many appearances that I do that have nothing to do with that. And so I’m hoping that I can strike a really nice balance of staying true to the values of Miss Missouri and also being able to exercise my personal views.”
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