Miss Missouri Erin O’Flaherty will compete on Sunday as the first openly gay contestant for the Miss America crown.
“Behind the scenes, we’ve been well-represented, but I’m the first openly gay title holder, so I’m very excited,” she said. “I knew going in that I had the opportunity to make history. Now I get to be more visible to the community and meet more people.”
The COO of Miss America Josh Randle said he's proud of how far his organization has come.
“Through every major milestone of our nation’s evolution, Miss America has provided a voice for women from all walks of life,and, this year, we welcome our first openly gay contestant,” he said. “Miss America contestants continue to be the best and brightest in the country, and we proudly support each and every young woman who competes in our national program."
The 23-year old Miss Missouri spoke with Robin Roberts on “GMA” and spoke about her excitement to compete.
“I’m excited to represent the LGBT community,” she explained.
"We are underrepresented in positions of influence. So I am excited to take that on and I hope that my presence will help with visibility for the community.”
O’Flaherty is the first titleholder to come out and then win. In the past there have been gay contestants on the Miss Universe and Miss USA competitions.
Miss America will be crowned Sunday September 11th on ABC.
The AP contributed to this report.