Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Beauty Queen to Believe In

From PFLAG Executive Director Jody Huckaby: "PFLAG is proud of Claire Buffie’s new title as Miss New York, having run on the platform of “Straight for Equality: Let’s Talk.” Claire is an active member of our PFLAG New York City chapter where she serves as a volunteer speaker in the Safe Schools Program, and a member of the chapter’s board of directors. As the sister of a lesbian, Claire truly understands the unique position that PFLAG plays in keeping families together and supporting, educating and advocating for LGBT people.

Claire and I met at PFLAG National’s Straight for Equality Awards Gala in New York on May 1st where we honored the tremendous role that straight allies can play in advancing LGBT equality. Claire will continue to be a strong visible ally as she competes for the Miss USA title in January.

All of us at PFLAG wish Claire much success in her quest to become Miss America!"

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Move over, Carrie Prejean. Claire Buffie, crowned Miss New York in June, is the first Miss America contestant to compete on a gay rights platform. A trained dancer and Apple employee, she knows her profile may seem unusual for a pageant contestant, and that’s exactly why she believes she can win over America in the competition this January.

In her first interview with the gay press, the 24-year-old Indianapolis native spoke with The Advocate about her platform of improving the climate for LGBT youths in schools, misconceptions about beauty pageant contestants, and the real lesson of Prejean, the 2009 Miss USA runner-up.

Below is Claire's interview with The Advocate:

Do you think beauty pageant contestants are misunderstood?
Yes, I do. Even upon entering my first local for the Miss America organization four years go, I had some of those stereotypes that are very common — the hairspray, the eyelashes, the glue and the tape, and all those things. What I found was a group of incredibly intelligent, driven, and service-minded women. I have found my absolute best friends through this organization.

The Miss America organization is a scholarship organization. Each of us has a platform that we support. Girls support platforms from a variety of places. Things like promoting the arts, arts education in schools, traffic safety, driving safety.

Do you fit the stereotypical mold of a pageant contestant?
I don’t think I fit the mold at all, but I think that’s been the greatest part and the reason I have such an effect on people throughout the pageant. My coworkers have said, “No offense, but I didn’t think you were a pageant girl.” It’s empowering women.

What is your day job?
I have my own business in commercial portraiture and graphic design. I also work for Apple, but I’m not allowed to say any more about Apple other than I work for the company on the technical side, based on PR restrictions.

How did you get started in competition?
I started just four years ago. My platform was a strong reason in getting started. I think it’s an unlikely challenge for this message to be discussed. I competed in Indiana for two years in college. Once I graduated, I came to New York and continued competing. I don’t think I would have continued competing if my platform was not something about which I’m so passionate.

Are you aware of any predecessors who competed on a gay rights platform?
In the 90-year history of Miss America, we have not yet found any Miss America contestant who has had this platform. It is quite unique.

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