While gays and lesbians have worked for decades behind the scenes at the Miss America pageant, this weekend the annual beauty/scholarship contest welcomes the first openly lesbian competitor as Miss Missouri, Erin O’ Flaherty, takes the stage in Atlantic City.
While lesbians have been more visible in pageants lately, there hasn't been an out statewide winner before O'Flaherty. Djuan Trent competed in the Miss America pageant as Miss Kentucky in 2011, when she finished in the top 10. However, it wasn't until 2014 that she came out.
O’Flaherty is competing on the platform of teen suicide prevention, an issue of critical importance to the LGBT community.