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Miss America welcomes its first openly gay contestant, Miss Missouri Erin O' Flaherty

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Miss Missouri, Erin O' Flaherty, will compete for the Miss America crown this weekend in Atlantic City, New Jersey, as the first openly lesbian contestant.

"Behind the scenes, we've been well-represented, but I'm the first openly gay title holder, so I'm very excited," she told The Associated Press in a recent interview. "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."

While there have been a number of competitors who have come out, O'Flaherty is the first title holder to come out and then win a state title. 

In 2011, Djuan Trent competed in the Miss America pageant for Kentucky, but didn't come out as a lesbian until 2014. 

The COO of the Miss America Organization, Josh Randle, told Fox News he is proud of how far the 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," 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."

Miss America will be crowned Sunday, Sept. 11 on ABC. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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