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Miss Universe Competitor Swe Zin Htet Is First Openly Gay Woman In Pageant

Miss Universe Competitor Swe Zin Htet Is First Openly Gay Woman In Pageant
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Dec. 8 2019, Updated 11:47 p.m. ET

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Tonight's Miss Universe pageant on FOX will feature the first openly gay contestant.

Swe Zin Htet, Miss Myanmar, has taken the brave step of coming out even though homosexuality remains a crime in her country, also known as Burma.

Days ago, Htet, 21, declared that she's gay and noted, “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. The difficult thing is that in Burma, LGBTQ people are not accepted.”

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Sunday night's pageant at Atlanta's Tyler Perry Studios will again be hosted by Steve Harvey, who announced the wrong winner in a shocking mistake in 2015.

But Htet hasn't botched her coming out party!

“It’s like I just started a new chapter in life,” she said.

In fact, Htet has been nicknamed “Superman” by her fans and hopes to help change anti-LGBTQ attitudes whether she wins or loses at Miss Universe.

The singer/actress first announced she was a lesbian in the beauty blog Missology on Nov. 29.

She realized she was attracted to females at age 15 or 16 and it was "kind of difficult. But after a period of time I felt I was a lesbian and kind of accepted it.”

After Htet told her parents about her sexual orientation five years ago, she recalled, “At first, they were mad. They didn’t accept me. But later, when they found out more about the LGBTQ community, they started to accept me.”

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Htet has dated famous Burmese singer Gae Gae secretly for three years, but now, fans know it's a romance.

Fellow Miss Universe contestants, pageant organizers, the LGTBQ community in Burma and people "all over the world" are now supporting Htet, she said. "I’m very happy about that.”

Paula Shugart, president of The Miss Universe Organization, told PEOPLE in a statement, “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. Miss Universe will always champion women to be proud of who they are.”

Htet, who stands 5'9," began her pageant career after winning Miss Supranational Myanmar 2016; she placed in the top ten and won Miss Personality title at Miss Supranational 2016 and is now Miss Myanmar 2019 competing to become Miss Universe.

Last year, openly trans contestant Angela Pone joined Miss Universe as Miss Spain, but Catriona Gray from the Philippines was the winner.

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