Meet Miss Myanmar Swe Zin Htet — The First Openly Gay Miss Universe Contestant

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Who Is Swe Zin Htet? New Details On The First Openly Gay Miss Universe Contestant
Entertainment And News

The recent Miss Universe pageant made news for a number of reasons. One of the biggest was the fact that Swe Zin Htet, Miss Myanmar, came out as a lesbian in November before the annual pageant took place. This makes her the first openly gay contestant in the history of the pageant. 

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Swe Zin Htet represented Myanmar at the 2019 Miss Universe competition. One of her first big pageant wins was the 2016 Miss Supranational Myanmar, where she placed in the top 10. She also won Miss Personality at that same pageant. The 20-year-old came out as lesbian in an interview on a pageant message board forum not long after she arrived in Atlanta for the competition. She was quoted as saying: "I came to a full realization about my sexual orientation over a long period of time. I knew I was 'one of them' way back in 2015. It is personally quite challenging but I feel that I have a greater voice and the best position to promote this cause. Some pageant fans know about it and they still support me but this is the first time I am able to talk about it in public."

Let's take a look at what we know about Swe Zin Htet, the values of the country she represents, and what happened in the Miss Universe competition. 

1. Who is Swe Zin Htet?

Htet is a Burmese model and the reigning Miss Myanmar. She grew up in the countryside of Magwe, one of Myanmar's states. Her life growing up was a simple one. Htet considers herself to have a mix of traditional values and modern qualities. 

2. She confirmed her sexual orientation on Instagram.

On November 29, the same day her coming out interview was released, Swe Zin Htet took to her Instagram account to post a collage of photos of herself from her life and her pageants. She added a rainbow flag and the word "proud" to the college. The comments are mostly positive congratulating her on her bravery and posts with a lot of hearts and rainbow emojis. 

3. She is an advocate for gay rights.

Swe Zin Htet was asked about her advocacy for gay rights by the pageant forum and she told the outlet that she planned to start her own foundation to further LGBTQ+ causes. She said: "I believe that not all countries allow same-sex marriage. I want the world to accept the LGBTQ+ community and their right to choose their own path and pursuit of happiness. Love is the most powerful thing and people fall in love with human beings, not gender. We should always have the freedom of choice and promote equality."

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4. Homosexuality is a crime in her country.

In Myanmar, same-sex sexual activity is illegal regardless of whether it is consensual or takes place in a private home. Myanmar's Penal Code calls for a term of imprisonment from 10 years to life for people caught having same-sex sexual activity. Transgender people's gender identity is not recognized by the state. Transgender people are subject to police harassment and sexual assault. Additionally, oral and anal sex between heterosexuals is also illegal

5. She also advocates against child abuse and child labor. 

Besides advocating for LBGTQ+ rights and issues, Htet's other platform is the fight against child abuse and child labor. She intends on initiating measures to address these issues in schools and communities in her country. Data compiled for the 2015 Labour Force Survey revealed that in Myanmar 1.13 million children aged 5 to 17-years-old — 9.3% of the child population —are involved in child labor. 

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6. She considers herself to be timid.

We tend to think of beauty pageant contestants and winners as confident, outspoken people. After all, they spent a good amount of time on stage promoting themselves, their platforms and their country. Swe Zin Htet, however, said she has a tendency to be timid. "I know Miss Universe is looking for a great spokesperson and I need to fit into the role. I believe confidence is a big factor — to be confident in all aspects. That is the new standard of beauty. I will also show how friendly the Burmese people are."

7. How did she do in the Miss Universe pageant?

Swe Zin Htet did not place in the top 20 of the 2019 Miss Universe pageant. South Africa's Zozibini Tunz was crowned Miss Universe

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Amy Lamare is a writer covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, and technology.You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.

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