More than 1,000 LGBTQ people will soon hold elected office

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Several LGBTQ candidates of color and transgender and nonbinary candidates made history on Tuesday.

The number of openly LGBTQ people in elected office is set to surpass 1,000 by the time the LGBTQ candidates who secured seats on school boards and city councils and judicial positions across the country on Tuesday take office in the new year.

That's the highest number of LGBTQ officials in office ever, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund, a political action committee that seeks to increase the number of LGBTQ people in politics."

Overall, according to the Victory Fund, there were at least 15 Black LGBTQ candidates, six Asian and Pacific Islander LGBTQ candidates, and six Latino LGBTQ candidates who won their races on Tuesday. Additionally, one multiracial candidate and one candidate identified as Middle Eastern/Arab American were victorious.

Twenty-six LGBTQ cisgender women, two transgender men, and three transgender women won their races in total. Twelve winners are bisexual, two are pansexual, 12 are lesbians, 12 are gay, and 11 are queer.

Christopher Coburn, a Democrat, became the first Black openly LGBTQ person to be elected to a seat on the Bozeman City Commission in Montana on Tuesday night. He was originally appointed to the commission in April after a commissioner resigned, but will soon begin his first elected term.

"It feels incredibly meaningful to bring representation and visibility to folks like me who don't usually see themselves in local government," he wrote in the caption of an Instagram post following his win. "It's an honor and it's exciting, and something that I don't take lightly."

In Michigan, Gabriela Santiago-Romero is set to serve on the Detroit City Council after securing a seat. The Democrat is the first LGBTQ Latinx person elected in the state and first out LGBTQ woman on the city council.

"Today, greedy corporations and developers are buying off politicians to get even richer while we face ever growing obstacles, from foreclosures to floods, pollution to pandemic. ... We deserve our homes. We deserve safe, healthy neighborhoods. We deserve clean air and affordable water," she said in a campaign ad from October.

Democrats Darin Mano and Alejandro Puy, the first out Asian LGBTQ person and the first openly LGBTQ Latino person to win seats on the Salt Lake City Council, respectively, were also victorious.

Democratic candidates for New York City Council Crystal Hudson and Kristin Richardson Jordan also made history as the first Black openly LGBTQ women elected to the council.

Hudson stated on Nov. 3, "I know and love this community deeply, and as the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, a caregiver who has navigated our complicated health care system, the daughter of a nurse, and a Black, queer New Yorker, I will fight even harder for historically marginalized people to have a seat at the table."

Four nonbinary candidates endorsed by the Victory Fund also won elections. Thu Nguyen, a community organizer, won a seat on the Worcester City Council, making them the first nonbinary person elected to political office in Massachusetts. Nguyen (D) said in October that the role of a political leader should be push for things that "support people's needs and wants" regardless of whether others call those goals realistic. They cited same-sex marriage as an example of a political win that many people would not have thought possible years ago.

In Pennsylvania, Xander Orenstein will serve on the Allegheny County Magisterial District Court. Orenstein is the first nonbinary person to be voted into a judicial position in the nation. Orenstein's campaign focused on issues of economic equity, including in housing. They promised on their campaign website to "require landlords and tenants to explore every possible amicable solution before pursuing the forcible removal of our community members."

Incumbent nonbinary Democratic candidate Sarah Salem was reelected to their position on the Poughkeepsie City Council in New York. Another New York state candidate, Democrat Stanley Martin, won their campaign and made history as the first nonbinary candidate elected to the Rochester City Council.

Representation of nonbinary, gender-nonconforming, and genderqueer people in political office increased 100% between June 2020 and June 2021, a July report from the LGBTQ Victory Institute showed.

Transgender men and transgender women also made gains. Dion Manley (D), a transgender man, was elected to a position on the Gahanna-Jefferson Board of Education in Ohio, making him the first trans person in the state to be chosen by voters for political office. Virginia Del. Danica Roem (D), who in 2018 became the first openly transgender state legislator in the nation to be elected and serve in office, was reelected to a third term.

And in Minnesota, Andrea Jenkins (D) won reelection to Minneapolis City Council. Speaking with the website the 19th on Friday, Jenkins endorsed the idea of more transgender individuals running for elected office, but noted that many barriers still exist that need addressing.

"A lot of trans people are trying to live on the streets," she said. "We've got to stabilize people's living situations, employment situations. It's hard to run for office if you can't pay rent."

This story was updated to correct Gabriela Santiago-Romero's identity as "the first LGBTQ Latino person elected in the state" to "the first LGBTQ Latinx person elected in the state."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.