America could soon crown its first ever out lesbian Miss America, after the US state of Missouri recently crowned its first ever out gay Miss Missouri.
Erin O’Flaherty was crowned at the pageant in the city of Mexico, Missouri on Saturday.
Anne Jolly, the chairman of the board of the Miss Missouri Scholarship Organisation told the Associated Press that the 23-year-old clothes shop owner was the first out lesbian to be crowned.
Speaking to the Associated Press this week, O’Flaherty said she came out as gay at the age of 18.
She said: “I’m on cloud nine really just to be Miss Missouri,” she said. “I don’t know that I intended to be the first, but I am. So I’m very excited about it.”
O’Flaherty will also be the first out gay woman to compete in the Miss America scholarship pageant, she says.
The competition will take place in Atlantic City on 11 September.
The new Miss Missouri, originally from South Carolina, supports suicide prevention charities, and said she wants to support gay rights without solely focussing on the issue.
“My focus of my year isn’t going to be that I’m gay,” she said.
An self-described ‘Catholic Arab’ earlier in 2016 won the first ever Miss Trans Star pageant in Israel.
Campaigners earlier this year criticised a transgender beauty pageant which offers the winner gender reassignment surgery.
The Miss Gay and Ms Transsexual Australia 2016 pageant was branded “irresponsible” by campaigners.
A finalist in the Miss Galaxy beauty pageant contest also in January spoke out – to claim she was disqualified for being trans.
29-year-old Jossy Yendall says she was elated to find out that she had made it through to the final of the UK competition.
However, she told ITV she was shocked to be told by organisers that she had been dropped from the contest because she’s not ‘biologically’ female.
The winner of the Miss Transgender UK pageant was last month stripped of her crown for not being “full-time” transgender, the organiser has claimed.
The pageant launched for the first time last year – but attracted controversy for offering all-expenses-paid gender reassignment surgery in India as a ‘prize’.
Scottish trans woman Jai Dara Latto was initially named the winner of the contest – but organiser Rachael Bailey hit out at her this week, amid coverage of Ms Latto going on a charity hike.