First openly gay Miss Universe contestant deals with living in a country where her sexual preference is illegal
The first openly gay contestant participated in the Miss Universe pageant recently despite the fact her home country decriminalizes homosexuality. Swi Zen Htet was crowned Miss Myanmar and earned the right to represent her country in the Miss Universe pageant. Zin Htet didn’t win the competition but the impact the 20-year old made will be felt for years to come.
The winner of the 2019 Miss Universe pageant is the contestant that represented South Africa. Zin Htet apologized to fans after the competition for not advancing as far in the competition as she knew they would like to see. The response to her comments was overwhelmingly positive. Many fans thanked her for her efforts and assured the young woman she had done the nation of Myanmar proud.
The Miss Universe Organization applauded Zin Htet and commended her on displaying the bravery necessary to express herself with such a bright spotlight aimed in her direction. Zin Htet shared her story with the world through a statement that was released not long after the Miss Universe competition commenced.
Organization President Paula Shugart said the Miss Universe Organization is honored to provide a platform to a young lady with such courage.
No Miss Universe contestant marked themselves as openly gay until Zin Htet appeared at the 2019 version of the event in Atlanta, Georgia.
Zin Htet elaborated on her situation while speaking candidly with Missology, a pageant forum. Zin Htet says she has known about her own sexual preference for five years. She says she chose now to make her identity public in hopes she can do her own small part in promoting equality in the world.
Zin Htet acknowledged the challenges she has faced because of her choice in sexual orientation. However, she says she feels that the visibility she enjoys requires her to think of more than just herself.
The outdated penal code of Myanmar bans sexual activities between members of the same sex. Laws exist in the country that calls for sentences ranging from 10 years to life in prison for homosexuality. However, it is not likely that these laws will be enforced against Zin Htet or anyone else in the country.
Zin Htet also told Missology that her country is not the only nation with such laws against same-sex relationships. The young woman expressed her belief that the world should allow people to be exactly as they are.
Zin Htet did not hide from the attention she instigated after making her sexuality known to the world. Shortly after her announcement, the young beauty contestant took to Instagram and posted the rainbow pride flag along with a single word: Proud.
Zin Htet expresses optimism when asked how she feels about returning to a nation that frowns upon her sexuality. She says she hopes her experiences will encourage more Burmese men and women to be confident enough to be themselves. She says she hopes she also has this effect on other beauty pageant contestants who feel they are unable to fully express themselves.