Model Rachel Slawson was recently crowned Miss Utah in the state’s annual beauty pageant, making her the first bisexual contestant to compete for the title of Miss USA in the 67-year history of the pageant, according to the Blast.
This year was actually Slawson’s fifth time competing for the Miss Utah title. As the newly crowned winner, she is using her social platform to advocate for mental health, as she herself was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and attempted suicide in the past.
In an Instagram post, Slawson said that she tried to kill herself at age 19 after losing the Miss Utah pageant, wondering, “Why can’t I do enough?”
She wrote, “After a few trips to psych ward, [I] was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (which is why I reacted so badly to losing a pageant) and finally figured out who I was as a queer woman.”
Slawson says that this time, unlike when she was 19, she entered the Miss Utah pageant thinking that she was good enough on her own.
View this post on Instagram
Let’s just get straight to the point: The last time I tried to end my life I was 19 years old, and it was the night I lost Miss Utah USA. “Why wasn’t I enough?” This is my 7th pageant, my 5th time competing at Miss Utah USA, and tonight I finally experienced hands down the biggest dream of my life. After a few trips to the psych ward, being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (the reason I had such an extreme reaction to losing a pageant) and finally coming to terms with who I am as a queer woman. And the only difference between tonight, and the night I left broken hearted wishing I wasn’t alive, is that I knew I was enough before I arrived. I am so grateful for this crown. And I promise to do right by Utah and spend this year sharing my truth. But if I’m being honest with you, this crown is a new job, not an answer to the question I spent the last 9 years asking. “Why am I even here?” I am why. If you are in crisis, please text TALK to 741741, and remember you are always worthy of help, and you are worthy of your biggest dream. Your new Miss Utah USA 2020. 💗
Calling the crown “a new job,” she wrote, “I am so grateful for this crown. And I promise to do right by Utah and spend this year sharing my truth.”
Slawson will compete for the title of Miss USA later this spring. If she wins, she’ll go on to compete for the title of Miss Universe in December.
Slawson isn’t the first out LGBTQ woman ever to compete for the crown. In 2016, Miss Missouri, Erin O’Flaherty, became the first openly lesbian contestant to win a state title in the Miss America pageant. Like Slawson, she used her platform to advocate for mental health.
Last year’s Miss Universe beauty pageant also featured its first-ever out gay contestant, 20-year-old Swe Zin Htet (Miss Myanmar). Hers was a notable achievement considering that homosexuality is illegal in her home country.