Miss Missouri is openly lesbian

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COLUMBIA - When the Miss America pageant takes place this weekend, Miss Missouri, Erin O'Flaherty, will be the first openly lesbian contestant to compete.

Her counterpart, Miss Missouri USA, said she thinks that O’Flaherty’s openness about her sexuality may change the way people view pageants.  

Sydnee Stottlemyre said, “Pageants for a long time have been seen as kind of archaic and there’s a lot of stereotypes that come with them. I think Erin, being the first openly gay Miss America contestant, has really broken a lot of those barriers down and has helped other young men and women realize that they can be themselves and they can do whatever they want.”

While O’Flaherty identifies with the LGBTQ community, her main platform focuses on suicide prevention.

Stottlemyre said that competing in pageants gives contestants a big platform to speak on multiple issues.

“The Miss America pageant touches on Children’s Miracle Network in addition to all the contestants’ personal platforms, so I think it’s actually the perfect situation for Erin,” she said. “She can talk about her specific platform, while also speaking out on the multiple platforms Miss America is involved with.”

Stottlemyre said she thinks O’Flaherty’s involvement in the pageant is a step in the right direction and said that her participation shows how “pageants are not stuck in the 1920s.” 

The Miss America pageant will take place Sept. 11.

(Editor's note: Stottlemyre is a former KOMU 8 reporter and the fiancee of KOMU 8 anchor Landon Burke.)