Emma-Jay Webber, a 41-year-old, single mum-of-two from Bristol has just become the first openly lesbian finalist in an international pageant.
Competing in Miami, Florida earlier this month in the Ms World International Pageant, Webber placed fourth in the overall competition.
She also took home the crown for Ms World International Woman – a title awarded to a queen who promotes values of diversity and body positivity.
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Posting about her achievement on Instagram, the beauty queen – who works as a forklift driver by day – wrote; “Forever grateful ❤️🇬🇧👑🏳️🌈 Yes… I cried 😂”
Webber was a 2022 finalist in the Miss Great Britain national competition and is now using her success to bring LGBTQIA+ representation to the international pageant circuit.
The beauty queen’s win in Miami is particularly meaningful in the context of the broader LGBTQIA+ community in Florida. Over the past year, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been pushing forward bills which restrict LGBTQIA+ expression and rights in the state.
This includes introducing bans on transition-related care for those under 18, as well as implementing the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which prohibits discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.
This wider context wasn’t lost on the beauty queen, who spoke to ITV West Country following her win to discuss what the achievement means for LGBTQIA+ representation.
“What I’ve done shows that as an LGBTQ+ woman you can follow your dreams and achieve anything,” she said.
“I was in Florida as an LGBTQ+ woman – you can do anything you like regardless of your background.”
“To be there as a finalist is making history in itself. But to actually win it. I don’t think there has been an LGBTQ individual to win any major pageant globally.”
A coronation we can all get behind!