Erin O’Flaherty was recently crowned Miss Missouri and will represent her state at the Miss America pageant in September. O’Flaherty is a beautiful 23-year-old originally from South Carolina; she was previously crowned Miss University of Central Florida, where she studied; she now owns a boutique clothing store… And oh, and she’s gay!
In fact, O’Flaherty is the first openly gay woman to represent Missouri, and it appears she will be the first to compete in the nationwide Miss America pageant later this year. Some might find it interesting that a southern state would pick a gay woman as its representative, and O’Flaherty was anxious about her chances of winning. She commented: “I had my concerns about it. Progressive is not exactly a word people might think of when you think Missouri.”
But fortunately she did win, and now she will have the opportunity to compete in the larger contest of Miss America. And while she will, of course, reach out to the community, her platform will specifically be suicide prevention. O’Flaherty explained: The “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 told the AP that she came out when she was 18 years old and understood she was making history: “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.”
She also explained that when she came out, it was: “…very public, which was hard because you want it to be very private. The public access to that was very challenging because I wanted to protect my relationship, and who I am and come to terms with myself before the rest of the world got a chance to.”
She sounds like a very thoughtful and articulate young woman. We can’t wait to tune into the Miss America pageant, as we will be routing for her!