Miss Utah, Rachel Slawson, discusses wanting to be the first bisexual Bachelorette.
"Half men, half women, no straight women allowed. I think America is ready for that. I mean, it would be the most watched season of The Bachelorette ever," Slawson says.
RACHEL SLAWSON: I am the first openly LGBTQ women to compete in Miss USA, and I identify as bisexual. And I come from Utah, so I definitely was so scared that by being who I really am, I would not make it very far.
I came out a little over two years ago at this point. And when I told my family, it did not go over super well. They were very embarrassed. They were very scared. And they basically told me that they failed.
A year and a half, two years later, and my family went to Miss USA to support me. I've come out of this experience finding that those really uncomfortable conversations are really painful, but they lead to you actually having a better relationship with the people you love most.
When I was 19 years old, I tried to end my life after competing at Miss Utah USA, and it was the second time I tried competing. And I was already struggling with my mental health, but I had spent so much of that year really trying to become something that I wasn't. I had gone and gotten plastic surgery. My eating disorder was at its, like, worst, and I was just not in a good place. And when I still didn't win after trying to become something I wasn't, it crushed me. I just didn't want to be here anymore. And I still, like, empathize so much with that version of myself because, like, she's always going to be someone that I have to take care of.
When I had a manic episode, basically I lost touch with reality for a few days, and it started out really fun. I was a private flight attendant at the time. And I walked down in the hotel to meet my pilots and I told them I wasn't getting on the plane. I was throwing a Christmas party at the hotel. They called a family member because they obviously felt like something was odd.
And then from there, I tried to jump in a lake because I thought that someone I'd been dating who had rejected me a month prior was waiting for me in the lake, and I almost died. And it took a team of firefighters to convince me not to jump in the lake, to put me into a ambulance and to take me to a hospital where I basically was sitting in a hospital for what was only like, I think, eight or nine hours, but in my world it was like seven years.
In a matter of a week, like, I not only lost my job and my house, I also lost my mind, and I felt like I had no place to go. And it took me four months to be seen by a psychiatrist before I actually got helped. I was able to get a job again, go back to work, get a house again, and start repairing my life and repairing my relationships.
But my family did not understand what was going on with me. They were obviously more in a place of fear than understanding. I think I really just had a moment where I realized that no one was coming to do this for me.
That's why I started the I Am Why Project. It's this reminder that I am why I'm here, and it's I am why I do the things that I do, and that is a good enough reason.
Being Miss Utah has been one of the highlights of 2020 in a very unhighlightable year. There was a global pandemic. I don't know if you've heard. And it's been a really hard year for everybody. And in that period of time, I was also competing at Miss USA. I had a lot of stress on my shoulders. Pageants are really expensive.
And at the same time, you know, I'm now a role model for people, and people are looking up to me to, like, you know, speak for mental health, and I started struggling with my mental health again.
And then you go to Miss USA. And at the end of it, I didn't win. I went home, and I sat on my couch, and I ate cereal for a week, and I cried. And then I got up, and I went on with my life. And so I get to, you know, reach out to a psychiatrist or call a friend and ask for help or ask a friend to watch me because I know that I'm going to be really sad.
I feel nothing but hope at this point because I've been fortunate enough to go to one of the best clinics for mental health. You know, I've been to the Amen Clinic. They have about a 90% recovery rate for people with untreatable mental-health issues, and that's where I was able to get my brain scan. I was able to see the possibility for hope and healing in my brain. I don't feel a huge weight on my shoulders because of bipolar disorder. I feel a lot of hope.
I'm going to continue on advocating for mental health. I'm going to teach self-care workshops for people that are struggling with their mental health, and I'm going to go have an amazing career in entertainment. That's why it's my dream to be the first bisexual Bachelorette. It really inspired me to believe in love and to go find my love story. Half men, half women, no straight women allowed. I think America is ready for that. It would be the most watched season of "The Bachelorette" ever, so.