Rosemary Donahue
June 23, 2016 10:37 am
David Pickering Photography / twitter.com

In the 95 years that the Miss America franchise has existed, they have not once had an openly gay contestant. However, that all changed when 23-year-old Erin O’Flaherty was crowned Miss Missouri this past Saturday. The crowning of O’Flaherty is a historic moment. Ann Jolly, the chairman of the board of the Miss Missouri Scholarship Organization, confirmed that she is the first openly gay woman to hold the title.

O’Flaherty told the Associated Press, “I’m on cloud nine really just to be Miss Missouri. I don’t know that I intended to be the first, but I am. So I’m very excited about it.”

This was her first official tweet as Miss Missouri, and she’s absolutely beaming:

O’Flaherty came out at the age of 18, and was open about her sexuality during the competition. She knew that no one else who was gay had ever won before, and that there was a potential that she could make history, but she didn’t let it get in her head too much. During the competition, her platform was suicide prevention.

She’s hoping to reach the LGBTQ+ community and raise awareness for issues that affect LGBTQ+ people, but also says she won’t necessarily make it the focus of her platform when she competes for Miss America, nor will she talk about it at every appearance. We wish her well!

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