Claire Buffie was crowned Miss New York and will compete in the Miss America pageant. Her platform, “Straight for Equality: Let’s Talk,” makes her the first contestant to compete using an LGBT rights statement.
She won’t win. Miss New York never does. Not anymore.
The Miss America competition began in 1933. The first Miss New York to be crowned Miss America was Bess Myerson in 1945. She refused to change her name and sponsors pulled out because Myerson is Jewish. Miss America didn’t make that mistake again.
Thirty years later, Miss New York Tawny Godin became Miss America in 1975. During her reign, she admitted she smoked pot. The pageant couldn’t wait till that year was over. Honesty is definitely not a Miss America virtue and they didn’t make that mistake again.
Then in 1983, Vanessa Williams became the third and final Miss New York to become Miss America. Toward the end of her reign, nude pics emerged and the most talented winner in the pageant’s history also became its only titleholder to be forced out. Swimsuit competition aside, we know Miss America is definitely not about sex.
A year or two later, Miss New York was a student from my college. She said that the judges asked everyone else an insipid question whose answer could have been the well-rehearsed, “World peace.” Then they asked her, “What is your position on abortion?” Her answer might as well have been, “What the fuck?” She said she knew she was out of the competition before a word came out of her mouth.
And Miss New York will not win again. Ever.
Rarely, to make the competition not look rigged, a Miss New York makes it into the top 10. Once, a few years ago, even the top three. But really, isn’t Miss Mississippi so much safer?
So Buffie is really taking no chances when she makes LGBT rights her platform. In fact, she’s smart to set herself apart and use those New York-o-phobes at the pageant to her own advantage.
Myerson went on to a career as a game show panelist in the ’50s and ’60s and became New York’s Commissioner of Consumer Affairs. Godin married Dukes of Hazzard star John Schneider and had something of a TV and film career herself. And Williams is most recently a Desperate Housewife. The three are among the most successful winners in the pageant’s history.
We love our bold allies and Buffie is the first contestant to ever take a stand for gay equality. We wish her luck.