June 30, 2016

Erin O'Flaherty won the Miss Missouri pageant this past week. She will compete for the Miss America crown in September.

She's also the first openly gay contestant to win a state pageant. St. Louis Magazine:

“It certainly is making history,” she told Good Morning America on Friday. "I’m not sure I set out to do that. I am the first. I’m very excited for that. But mainly I’m excited to represent the LGBT community. We’re underrepresented in public positions of influence. I’m excited to take that on, and I hope that my presence will help with visibility for the community.”

O’Flaherty also plans to champion suicide prevention. “I promote the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and work very closely with the Trevor Project, the nation’s leading crisis intervention and suicide prevention hotline for LGBT youth,” she said, adding that LGBT youth, particularly adolescents from unaccepting environments, are up to eight times as likely to commit suicide as their straight peers.

“I’m just going to share my story as much as I can," said O'Flaherty, an owner of Rachel’s Grove dress boutique in Chesterfield. "My message to all young people out there who have a dream but may be a little scared is that no matter what obstacles are in your way, it does get better."

When asked whether she dreams of being Miss America, O'Flaherty said, “Absolutely!”

The Trevor Project is a site worth visiting. They work not only to prevent suicide within the LGBTQ youth, they also help schools and other youth-serving professionals build supportive environments for LGBTQ youth. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth ages 10-19 in the U.S.

If you or someone you know is reporting ANY of the symptoms of depression or hopelessness, please know your life matters. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8755) and speak to someone about it. LGBTQ youth may call the the Trevor Lifeline (866-488-7386) for help.

Several of us at Crooks and Liars know firsthand what it means to lose someone to suicide. Please call.

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