Claire Buffie won the 2010 Miss New York Competition on June 26 in Albany on a platform of speaking out as a straight ally for equal rights for LGBT people. Claire is a member of PFLAG NYC, an active volunteer speaker in the Safe Schools Program, and a member of the board.
PFLAG NYC's Claire Buffie is Miss New York 2010
As she pursued the Miss New York crown over the past two years, Claire has been speaking out on a platform called "Straight for Equality: Let's Talk." Claire, whose sister came out to the family as a lesbian several years ago, sees the issue of gay rights as the civil rights movement of her generation. She uses all her public appearances to open dialogue about LGBT equality and speak out as a straight ally. She will continue talking up this message in her campaign to win the Miss America title in January 2011.
Of all the places that she speaks, Claire is most moved by talking with young people in schools. After she spoke at ACCION Academy in the Bronx in April, Claire wrote on her blog, "I feel like every time I leave a school I say, 'THAT was the coolest experience I’ve had at a school.' How can that be? You have to remember that although you are telling the same story over and over, or a variation of it, it is still someone’s first time hearing your story. That influence and fresh response is what motivates me to keep speaking and sharing my story."
Claire Buffie with students at a Safe Schools Program event at UNIS
The personal stories that PFLAG NYC speakers like Claire share with students open a door for members of the school community to "come out" about the LGBT people in their own lives -- usually for the very first time. At ACCION Academy, the guidance counselor used the opportunity to talk about having a lesbian mother. In the Q&A after Claire and the other PFLAG NYC volunteers spoke, one girl talked about how she struggled with understanding her own sexual orientation and felt like she had no one to talk to. Claire talked about finding allies among her friends and the school personnel, then witnessed as "the Vice Principal and Guidance Counselor raised their hands and said, 'Here we are! I’m a mother. I’m a mother day in and day out, to my own kids and to every one of these kids at this school! She can talk to me!'"
Claire's platform of LGBT equality is a first in the history of the Miss America Organization. We'll be cheering her on and hope she wins the title in January. The Miss America competition gives members of the public a chance to vote, so look out in the coming months as we tell you how you can help Claire win!