Over the weekend, Rachel Slawson was crowned Miss Utah. Now she's about to make history as the first openly bisexual woman to compete in the Miss USA pageant later this year. But most importantly, after winning the Miss Utah title, Slawson wrote a heartfelt post on Instagram about being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and her past attempts to die by suicide.
Following her win as Miss Utah after several previous times in the running, Slawson took to Instagram to share her story:
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," Slawson added in her Instagram post. "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.
Slawson ended that post with a call for those in need to seek help and advice.
"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," she wrote.
A few days prior to her win, Slawson set the tone for her run by posting on Instagram about her sexual identity:
"Being Queer is not a 'platform.' The reason I waited so long to come out as a member of the LGBT+ community was that I didn't think who I choose to love should define who I am," Slawson wrote. "Life is short. And I have more questions then answers, but one thing I'm sure of is that we came here to love."
"And if the people I've loved means I am 'queer' or 'bi' or whatever they call it, then I am proud of that. Because I am never going to walk away from an opportunity to love when it's rare light shines through in a world that is quick to judge and forget," she continued. "I may be LGBTQ, but that's just one detail on the list of things that make me Rachel."
She ended that post with a note of self-acceptance.
"I hope by sharing this with you, you can believe that it's okay to accept every way you love in this world. Your love is a gift here, and so are you," she wrote. "The world might not understand, but they don't need to. Because I am my own why."
Regarding Slawson's visibility on the national pageant stage, GLAAD called it "a huge win," according to Yahoo.
"As an openly bisexual woman, Rachel Slawson being crowned Miss Utah is a huge win for LGBTQ visibility," GLAAD's Head of Talent Anthony Ramos said. "Rachel's presence on the Miss USA stage later this year will most definitely send a powerful message to LGBTQ Americans and Utahns, especially those in the bisexual+ community, who feel like they have not seen themselves represented in that space before."