The American state of Missouri made history over the weekend, crowning an openly gay woman as Miss Missouri for the first time ever.
Erin O'Flaherty, 2016's Miss Missouri, won the competition last Saturday and will go on to represent the mid-western state at the Miss America pageant later this year.
Originally from South Carolina, O'Flaherty told a local St. Louis paper that she doubted whether she would be accepted by the pageant world, but is now excited at the prospect of potentially becoming the country's first openly gay Miss America winner.
“Progressive is not exactly a word people might think of when you think Missouri,” O’Flaherty tells the Riverfront Times. “I didn’t choose to be the first; I just am. Often you hear that our politics don’t always match our people and I think that’s really true.”
O’Flaherty later told Associated Press that althought she is a proud member of the LGBT+ community, it will not be the main focus of her year as Miss Missouri.
“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,” she says.
The Miss America pageant will take place on September 11 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.