This year has been about as chaotic as it can get, and the 2020 Presidential race was no exception. I for one found myself refreshing the New York Times results page about every five minutes, hoping that it would somehow make time go faster. After finally finding out that Joe Biden is our President-elect, I gave myself a day to celebrate, and then it was back to work on all that still needs to be done. Nonetheless, all of the controversy surrounding the presidency seems to have taken away attention from other aspects of the 2020 election, particularly victories of LGBTQ+ individuals. In fact, a historic number of 1,006 openly-LGBTQ+ individuals ran for office in 2020. Here are 7 LGBTQ+ significant victories that came out of the 2020 election.
- Sarah McBride
Sarah McBride made history when she won one of the Senate seats in Delaware. This made her the nation’s highest-ranking openly transgender official. It also made her the first openly transgender person to serve a Senate seat anywhere in the nation. McBride was previously the first openly transgender person to work in the White House, which she did under the Obama administration. Despite her historic win, McBride has said that she does not focus on identity when campaigning, and that her constituents care much more about her policy on health and education. Nonetheless, this win is sure to inspire millions and pave the way for future generations of transgender individuals.
- Ritchie Torres
Ritchie Torres became the first Afro-Latinx LGBTQ+ member of Congress this election. He won a Congressional seat representing New York’s 14th Congressional District, defeating Republican candidate Patrick Delices. In the past, Torres became the youngest and first LGBTQ+ elected official in New York City when he won a seat in the city council at 25. Torres has stated that his main passion when representing his district, the Bronx, is affordable housing. He has also said that he is hopeful to have a U.S. Congress as diverse as the U.S. itself. His win is sure to get us a step closer to achieving that goal.
- Mauree Turner
In this election Turner became the first nonbinary state legislator in U.S. history when they won their race for Oklahoma state house for District 88. Turner uses both she/her and they/them pronouns, according to her Twitter account. They defeated Republican candidate Kelly Barlean and won about 71% percent of the votes! They are also the first Muslim to serve in their state’s legislature. This goes to show that progress is being made, even in historically conversative states such as Oklahoma.
- Taylor Small
Taylor Small became Vermont’s first openly transgender state legislator. This also made her the fifth transgender legislator in the nation. While Vermont has been a historically Democratic state, Small has said that every transgender win remains historic, and that she hopes to advocate for her community. Before this election Vermont had only six openly LGBTQ+ legislators in the state. Overall, this illustrates that representation is needed even in the most progressive of states.
- Stephanie Byers
Stephanie Byers was elected into the Kansas state house this past election. She made history twice becoming Kansas’ first openly transgender legislator and first Indigenous elected official. Byers is a member of the Chickasaw Nation and has lived in Wichita, Kansas for the last 30 years of her life. When asked about her historic run, she mentioned that being transgender is an aspect of her identity, but it is not all that defines her. She recognizes how historic her win is, but hopes that it will not be the main emphasis of her work.
- Kim Jackson
Kim Jackson became the first LGBTQ+ Georgia State Senator. She is an openly lesbian Episcopal priest who advocates for social justice and LGBTQ+ rights. Currently, there are only three black LGBTQ+ women senate legislators in the country. In a statement about Jackson’s victory, Mayor Annise Parker stated, “Kim shattered a lavender ceiling and is paving the way for a state government that is more representative of the people it serves. The energy and enthusiasm generated for Kim’s race will inevitably encourage more LGBTQ women and people of color to recognize their own viability and make the decision to run.” Likewise, having a religious LGBTQ+ individual in office will hopefully encourage other people of faith to recognize that equality does not contradict religious beliefs.
- Mondaire Jones
Mondaire Jones, along with Ritche Torres, will become the first openly gay Black men elected to Congress. Jones will be representing New York’s 17th Congressional District. In the primaries Jones won nearly three times the votes of the second place candidate. He was stated that he wants to be a role model for other young Black men, especially queer youth of color. He has also received endorsement from Obama and praise from high-profile politicians such as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Jones has stated that his first priority in Congress will be to bring COVID-19 relief for all Americans.
These are just some of the victories that came out of the 2020 Election. While these are significant wins, and the tides are changing for LGBTQ+ representation in politics there are still several states that have never elected an LGBTQ+ legislator, such as Alaska, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Likewise, while 5% of the American population identifies as LGBTQ+, only 0.17% of elected officials are part of this demographic. This means that we still have a long way to go when it comes to representation, therefore we must all keep fighting to make our voices heard in the fight for LGBTQ+ inclusivity!