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Erin O'Flaherty: First openly gay woman competes for Miss America representing Missouri

9:38:00 AM

"I'm on cloud nine really just to be Miss Missouri. I don't know that I intended to be the first (gay winner), but I am. So I'm very excited about it." Flaherty said.

O'Flaherty is pictured being crowned by 2015's Miss Missouri, McKensie Garber (back), and Miss Missouri's Outstanding Teen 2016, Christina Stratton (left)

23, Erin O'Flaherty, was crowned Miss Missouri on Saturday, June 18, 2016 becoming the first openly gay winner and the first such contestant of Miss America pageant in its 95-year history.

She originated from South Carolina, she was 18 when she came out as a gay. But she's not making her sexuality as the center of her campaign instead she is making a suicide awareness.

"My focus of my year isn't going to be that I'm gay, 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. 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."

O'Flaherty (center) is joined by runners-up (l-r) Brittany Sears (third runner-up), Audrain Jennifer Davis (first runner-up), Katie Moeller (second runner-up) and Mikaela Carson (fourth runner-up)

Although O'Flaherty is the first openly lesbian woman to make it into the Miss America pageant, she's not the first to try.

In 2012, Mollie Thomas was the first openly gay Miss California contestant, and in 2013 Analouisa Valencia tried to do the same for South Carolina, neither won their respective pageant.

MollieThomas and Analouisa Valencia 

In 2013, Patricia Yurena Rodriguez, who won the Miss Spain twice, 2008 and 2013 and came as first runner-up in Miss Universe 2013 came out as gay in 2014.

Miss Universe 2013 first runner-up, Patricia Rodriguez and her girlfriend Dj Vanessa Cortes

A spokesperson of the Miss America Organization confirmed that 'the newly crowned Miss Missouri, Erin O’Flaherty, is the first openly LGBTQ contestant to compete in the Miss America Competition.

"While past contestants have later identified as LGBTQ, we would like to honor and respect the privacy of our contestants’ personal lives. As always the Miss America Organization supports all women who are interested in joining the legendary competition."



O'Flaherty (pictured left, and also right with sister Justin) said she's 'on cloud nine' to be declared the winner in her state 

On Wednesday O'Flaherty signed in for the first time to the official Miss Missouri Twitter account. 'Hey there! Erin here, officially signing in as Miss MO 2016. So excited to serve this amazing state,' she enthused, also posting a photograph of her coronation.

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