Rachel Slawson Hopes to be First Openly LGBTQ Miss USA

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday November 11, 2020

Rachel Slawson
Rachel Slawson  (Source:Rachel Slawson / Instagram)

In an interview with Glamour, Rachel Slawson said she would like to be crowned the first openly LGBTQ Miss USA on November 9.

Additionally, The 25-year old Slawson, who had been homeless and living in her car for a while after losing her job, is also an advocate for mental health care. While talking about the significance of mental health, talks openly about her struggles being bipolar. With a sense of humor, Slawson explains that in high school and after her parents' divorce, "I was literally diagnosed with anxiety, depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, eating disorder—if it's in the DSM-5 [APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders], they probably at some point said I had it!"

Raised as a Mormon in Utah — but now identifying as a Christian — Slawson said she "felt like this gross little tomboy" until she saw Marissa Powell, Miss Utah, "who just looked so confident and radiant." Slawson then prepared for, competed in and lost the Miss Utah pageant. But she kept up her routines — exercising, keeping up with current events, and volunteering in the community — so that she could continue to compete. Interestingly, "a goal to work toward when you're struggling with depression is actually very healthy... Pageantry, in a lot of ways, has been a huge benefit for my mental health and one of the best things that's happened in my life. But like anything in life, there's always complications."

However, things would soon spiral, as Slawson turned to plastic surgery, recreational drugs, constantly feeling bad but too ashamed to seek help, working as an airline attendant on private jets and regularly breaking down in the galley. A manic episode on the job resulted in Slawson's firing and subsequent homelessness for four months. The Miss USA contender found a public mental health clinic and was able to get help. "I look at the way we treat all homeless people, and I just know that that's me," she says. "Yeah, I might have nice hair extensions now. I clean up nice. But I know that there's no difference between the people that have been on the streets for a long time and me, except for the time we ended up there."

Slawson believes that "The number one place money should go in our country is to our mental health care system. A healthier society is a healthier economy."

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

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