NEW YORK (Reuters) – The first openly gay candidate competes this weekend in the Miss America contest, a first in the competition’s 95-year-history, organizers said.
Erin O’Flaherty, 23, represents the Midwestern state of Missouri, where she was crowned the first openly gay Miss Missouri in June.
“I certainly hope my presence will help people open up a little bit more. I’m very open about it,” she told local media at the time.
“It’s never going to be something I try to hide because I’m very proud to be a member of the LGBT community,” she told the St. Louis-based Riverfront Times.
O’Flaherty, who owns a clothing store, said she represents a platform of suicide prevention. Contestants select as platforms causes that they aim to raise awareness of or promote.
She is slated to sing in the contest’s talent competition.