Maude Gorman said she felt lost after she was raped by three men at the age of 13, suffering through anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder that made daily living almost impossible — until she found beauty pageants.
Now, the former Miss Massachusetts World has given up her title after a skit at the Miss Massachusetts competition that mocked the #MeToo movement aiming to empower the victims of sexual abuse. As CNN reported, Gorman gave up her title as Miss Plymouth County after a comedy sketch that took aim at the Miss America competition’s decision to scrap the swimsuit competition, and in doing so also mocked #MeToo.
“Miss America did away with the swimsuit competition,” the woman says in the skit. “We may have very well seen the last ever swimsuit competition on stage. It’s very upsetting and I’m trying to understand, God, why it happened.”
“Me too, Amy,” replied a man dressed as God who was holding a sign that read #MeToo.
The skit drew laughs and cheers from the crowd, CNN reported, but left Maude Gorman feeling unsettled. Though she only heard the skit backstage and couldn’t watch it, she felt devastated.
“It was heartbreaking to hear. In that moment, everything collapsed right in front of me,” Gorman told the Boston Globe.
Gorman said she knew she had to do something in response. She decided to walk away.
“I wasn’t comfortable staying as Miss Plymouth County,” Gorman said (via CNN). “It went against everything I have worked hard for. I was Miss Massachusetts World in 2015. I saw myself as a leader in the community and made appearances to speak out about sexual assault and tell my story.”
Gorman said it took years for her to recover from her gang rape, which she didn’t tell anyone for the first three years after it happened. With help from her family, Gorman said she was able to get her life back on track, which eventually led her to pageants.
I’m so excited to be a guest this morning on @bostonfreeradio as I represent @usonewengland_ and speak about the Salute to Heroes event with New England Revolution this Saturday! I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to speak on behalf of @theuso and be a part of this incredible event for another year! #USO #bostonradio #missplymouthcounty #mao #salutetoheroes #missamerica
Her decision to speak out against the #MeT00 skit has garnered Gorman support from across the country. Many have shared supportive messages on Instagram, where Gorman posted a message to followers explaining all the work she has done to help victims of sexual violence, including speaking at national and international conferences and advocating on the state and national level for laws protecting victims.
“And there is still so much more work to be done, there is still so much more progress to be made, and justice to be found,” she wrote on Instagram. “I will continue to fearlessly defend survivors, and be the voice for those suffering in secrecy. You are not alone #metoo”
The Massachusetts organization overseeing the pageant apologized on Facebook, saying that the skit had not been approved, but it’s too late for Maude Gorman. The former Miss Massachusetts World said she is done with pageants for good.