Progress marches on as the Miss Universe pageant welcomes its first-ever out lesbian contestant: 25-year-old Swe Zin Htet.
Htet hails from the nation of Myanmar, where gay sex still remains criminalized courtesy of a colonial-era penal code. That didn’t stop Htet from competing in the Miss Universe pageant Sunday night, or from coming out in an interview just before flying to Atlanta for the show.
“I want the world to accept the LGBTQ+ community and their right to choose their own path and pursuit of happiness,” she told Missology, a blog devoted to the pageant world. “We should always have the freedom of choice and promote equality.”
Htet affirmed her revelation with an Instagram post, which showed her posing with another woman along with the caption “Proud.”
A spokesman for the Miss Universe pageant lauded Htet’s coming out. “We are honored to give a platform to strong, inspirational women like Miss Universe Myanmar, who are brave enough to share their unique stories with the world,” the group’s president, Paula Shugart, said. “Miss Universe will always champion women to be proud of who they are.”
Ultimately, Htet would not land a spot in the top 20, but nonetheless earned one in history.
Though Htet’s coming out met with wide praise and support from her fans on social media, her addressing her sexuality does not come without risks. In addition to criminalization of homosexuality, attitudes in Myanmar remain decidedly anti-LGBTQ. Queer people face a higher incidence of violence and discrimination and are often ostracized by society.
That is some bravery! She comes out while it’s still illegal in her country!!?!?!?
Unlike people here like Anderson Cooper who hid for years claiming he didn’t want to make the story about him. (eye roll).
Congratulations to her and I hope she doesn’t get into trouble in her home country!
Cam, I’m not sure if you know this, but homosexuality was illegal in Texas and 13 other states until 2000. It took a Supreme Court decision to end state laws against “sodomy” (including consensual acts by adults in the privacy of their own homes).
“Homosexuality” can still be used as grounds for being fired, losing your kids, etc., in more than half the US states. In 2019. Did you know that? We need a comprehensive federal law protecting LGBTQ people, and the GOP should stop blocking it.
Excellent! Defying stereotypes. I like that!
So brave! Congrats for being out and taking step. I hope more in her home country of Myanmar stand with her and support her and other LGBTQ people there.
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