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Birstall teen hoping to become first gay ‘Miss England’ winner

A Birstall teenager who was bullied at school when she came out, is hoping to become the first openly gay ‘Miss England’ winner when the finals take place later this month.

Grace Richardson was crowned Miss Leicestershire back in February, after impressing the judges with her confident attitude toward inclusivity and equality.

Leicester Time: Birstall teen hoping to become first gay 'Miss England' winner
Picture by: Angelika @grey_felena Instagram 

The 19-year-old came out as gay when she was 15-years-old. However, the announcement which she made during lockdown via TikTok resulted in episodes of bullying when she returned to school.

“I was getting lots of negative comments, things were being said behind my back and it knocked my confidence a lot,” she told the Leicester Times. “In every class someone would mention it and it became so overwhelming.

“I didn’t feel that it was a big deal. I wasn’t the first person to be gay in the whole school, but I was the first person to mention it and be open and confident about it,” she added.

Grace wants to use her Miss Leicestershire title to encourage people to be more supportive of people who come out, and to encourage more people to do so.

“If you feel that you could and it’s safe to do so, I would say go for it,” she said. “In the long run, people will move on and get over it, whether it’s the big news that week or not. I’m hoping with my title that I can get the word out to the people that would subconsciously make a comment to think about it and stop before they speak because they don’t realise how much they can affect someone’s life,” she added.

“Once you’ve said the words ‘I’m gay’, it’s out there and people don’t understand the adrenaline that someone goes through just saying these words. People just don’t understand that feeling. They might make a funny comment, but to that person it’s not a joke – it’s not funny and it really does affect them. Some of those comments might stick with them for life. And I just want to be able to educate more people on just accepting everyone.”

Despite her negative experience of coming out, Grace says that overall, embracing her identity has changed her life for the better.

Since taking up musical theatre at the Leicester College of Performing Arts, the talented singer has grown in confidence. She is ready to shine at the Miss England finals, which take place on May 16 and 17 in Wolverhampton.

40 women from across England will come together to compete for the coveted crown. If Grace succeeds, she will be the first gay contestant to achieve the feat.

“I’m really excited. I can’t begin to explain how excited I am about these two days. It’s going to be amazing,” she said. 

“I’ve made quite a lot of friends. They said at the start that you’ll become good friends but I didn’t realise how much you get to speak to these other inspiring women. There’s 40 girls and most of them are now friends for life. At the end of the day one girl will win and we’ll be really supportive of whoever that girl is.”