In this year’s election, history has been made by the LGBTQ community. According to the LGBTQ Victory Fund, more LGBTQ candidates ran for office in the USA this year than ever before. There has been a 41% increase over the 2018 midterms (1000+ candidates). While an estimated 5-7% of the U.S. population identifies as LGBTQ, only 0.17% of elected officials in the American government are from this community.
Representation is extremely important for the LGBTQ community for many reasons. This could help them maintain and improve their hard-earned rights, which have been on the line in the past four years. The current administration has banned trans people from joining the military and weakened trans-inclusive protection in schools. They have also tried to remove LGBTQ protections in healthcare and even tried to allow homeless shelters to turn away LGBTQ people.
In addition, representation for the LGBTQ community plays a major role in influencing and empowering other people of this community, especially the younger generations. It will not only help educate others but also show younger people of this community that they can be leaders as well.
Here are the LGBTQ+ senators and legislators who made history in the 2020 election.
Michele Rayner-Goolsby (D) – Florida State Representative for District 70:
Michele Rayner-Goolsby made history by becoming the first openly LGBTQ Black Woman elected into Florida’s House of Representatives. She is also the first Black LGBTQ woman the state has ever elected at any level.
On Twitter, she stated, “Our team was led by a Black woman. It was anchored by women and women of color. We won because we defined ourselves for ourselves.” In addition, she has mentioned that her campaign is “focused on putting people over politics.”
Shevrin Jones (D) – State Senator for Florida’s 35th District:
Shevrin Jones has become the first openly gay state senator elected in Florida. He is one of the few Black men serving in the U.S. State Senate and also will be one of the only two open LGBTQ Black male senators.
He has served in the state house of representatives since 2012 and came out in 2018. He has been a strong voice for LGBTQ rights in Florida and has stated, “I’m humbled to have earned the trust of the people of SD 35. I am looking forward to serving you in the Florida Senate. Thank YOU! #WEthePEOPLE.”
Taylor Small (D) – Vermont State Representative for District 6-7:
Taylor Small won the House seat for the Chittenden 6-7 district, making her the first openly transgender member of the state’s legislature. The 26-year-old is currently the director of the Health and Wellness program at the Pride Center of Vermont and hopes that she can inspire younger LGBTQ people to be leaders too. Small has stated that she is “committed to community building and youth empowerment” and has a “clear passion and drive to support the larger LGBTQ community of Vermont.”
Jabari Brisport (D) State Senator for New York’s 25th District:
Brisport is the first LGBTQ person of color to be elected for New York’s State Senate. He beat Assembly Member Tremaine Wright for the Democratic nominee and ran unopposed on November 3rd. Brisport said that his first interaction with the New York State Senate was when he tried to get them to pass the same-sex marriage legislation about 11 years ago. He stated, ”when it didn’t pass, I really felt like I wasn’t being seen as a person, I felt like I was a second class citizen… it’s important to me that people like me, other queer people of color, feel like they are seen and feel like they’re represented in NY politics.”
Kim Jackson (D) – Georgia State Senate for District 41:
Kim Jackson, a lesbian Episcopal priest and social justice advocate is the first openly LGBTQ person elected to the Georgia State Senate in that chamber. In her first race for public office, she had beat her Republican opponent with 80% of the vote. Currently, there are just three openly LGBTQ Black women state senators in the entire country. In addition, she is one of the three non-incumbent Senate candidates that is endorsed by the Victory Fund, who won (the others being Tiara Mack in Rhode Island and Marie Pinkney in Delaware).
Jackson stated, “In the South, we are often known as this conservative place that often has some legislation that is against LGBTQ people… You can no longer talk about us as if we are not in the room because we will be in the room. I think that makes all the difference in the world when it comes to making sure we pass compassionate legislation that brings about equality for everybody.”
Mauree Turner (D) – Oklahoma State Representative for the 88th District:
Mauree Turner is now the first openly nonbinary Muslim lawmaker in the US and the first openly nonbinary, person of color and Muslim person to be elected into the Oklahoma state’s legislature. Turner is an activist who has spent their life fighting for issues such as immigration rights, affordable healthcare, and racial justice.
As a Black Muslim American LGBTQ person in Oklahoma, they have faced many issues during their campaign and felt that they were not being seen or heard by lawmakers. Turner has been fighting to start conversations about inclusive representation and stated, “it has never been a more important time for the next generation to see themselves in our government… It has never been a more important time for those closest to our state’s problems to be structuring the solutions.”
Sarah McBride (D) – State Senator for Delaware’s 1st District:
Sarah McBride made history by becoming the highest-ranking openly transgender public official in the USA. She is a 30-year-old LGBTQ activist. She is a former White House intern under the Obama administration, and also the former national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ advocacy group in the country.
McBride is also the first LGBTQ person elected into Delaware state’s legislature. She tweeted, “I hope tonight shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them too… As Delaware continues to face the Covid crisis, it’s time to get to work to invest in the policies that will make a difference for working families.”
Ritchie Torres (D) – New York’s 15th Congressional District:
Ritchie Torres is the first openly gay Black man in Congress and is also the first LGBTQ Afro-Latino congressman. He had told CNN that his highest priority is the affordability crisis in housing and wants to expand the child tax credit to alleviate child poverty.
After the 32-year-old defeated Republican Patrick Delices, he stated, “We are going to have a United States Congress that is every bit as diverse and dynamic as America itself. Sixty percent of the Democratic conference in the House of Representatives is women, people of color, and LGBTQ. I am proud that I am going to contribute to the diversity of the world’s greatest legislature, the United States Congress.”
Mondaire Jones (D) – New York’s 17th Congressional District:
Mondaire Jones is the first Black openly gay representative in US Congress, alongside Ritchie Torres. The 33-year-old had defeated Republican Maureen Schulman to represent New York’s 17th Congressional District. Jones addressed the homophobia he had faced as a candidate and stated that his life story made him push through even though his campaign was on the edge of breaking. He mentioned, “policy is personal. I grew up in section eight housing and on food stamps. It’s not academic for me.” In addition, he stated, “there’s never been an openly gay Black member of Congress in the 244-year history of the United States, and it was only in the past few years that I began to think that it was possible.”