Miss Myanmar Swe Zin Htet is about to make history as the first openly gay Miss Universe contestant at the pageant at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta tonight. Not only has Htet pushed boundaries by coming out as a lesbian earlier this week while ahead of the Miss Universe pageant, but she did it despite laws in her home country (also known as Burma) where homosexuality is still a crime on the books.
“I have that platform that, if I say that I’m a lesbian, it will have a big impact on the LGBTQ community back in Burma,” Htet told People.
“The difficult thing is that in Burma, LGBTQ people are not accepted. They are looked down on by other people and are being discriminated against,” Htet added.
Htet, 21, told her parents five years ago that she gay and she’s been in a three-year relationship with singer Gae Gae, but she was not out publicly prior to Nov. 29 when she posted a pride flag to her Instagram account.
Since coming out, Htet has received an outpouring of support. And the Miss Universe pageant said it stands by her decision to come 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,” Paula Shugart, president of The Miss Universe Organization, told People. “Miss Universe will always champion women to be proud of who they are.”