Erin O'Flaherty, who was crowned Miss Missouri in June, has created history by becoming Miss America's first openly lesbian contestant. O'Flaherty is also the first contestant to win the Miss Missouri title after coming out.
O'Flaherty will now compete with 51 other contestants to win the Miss America beauty pageant, which will be held in Atlantic City on Sept. 11.
"Behind the scenes, we've been well-represented, but I'm the first openly gay title holder, so I'm very excited," O'Flaherty told the Associated Press. "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."
Josh Randle, chief operating officer of the Miss America Organization, said that first time in 95 years an openly gay contestant has participated and they are proud to support her.
"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," Randle 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."
There are other gay contestants who participated in several beauty pageants, but they have not come out until the competition ended.
In 2011, Lesbian competitor Djuan Trent participated in the Miss America pageant as Miss Kentucky. She made it in the top 10, but she announced that she is a lesbian only three years later.
Two openly lesbian contestants, Jenelle Hutcherson and Mollie Thomas, participated in the Miss California USA pageant in 2012, but they failed to make to the national Miss USA pageant competition.
Patricia Yurena was the two-time winner of the Miss Spain and a runner-up in the Miss Universe 2013 competition. It was only after a year she announced that she is a lesbian.