The New Miss Missouri Will Be The First Openly Gay Miss America Contestant

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History will be made at this year’s Miss America pageant and we have Erin O’Flaherty to thank for that. (Thanks!) The freshly minted Miss Missouri will enter September’s competition as its first ever openly gay contestant.

O’Flaherty earned the crown on Saturday in Mexico, Mo. The 23-year-old pageant winner was understandably thrilled by the win and not just for its trailblazing status.

“I’m on cloud nine really just to be Miss Missouri,” she said. “I don’t know that I intended to be the first [gay contestant] but I am. So I’m very excited about it.”

The University of Central Florida graduate, who also owns her own boutique, told Cosmopolitan that she performed better in pageants after coming out because she was presenting who she really was. O’Flaherty believes she can serve as a role model for LGBT youth.

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