Welcome back to Wednesday! As we head into the final stretch of June, I thought I’d take some time to snapshot some elected LGBT+ politicians for Pride Month. Much of the information here comes from Advocate’s list of 17 Groundbreaking LGBTQ+ Politicians and Public Officials and the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute.
Kathy Kozachenko became the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in the United States. She was elected to the Ann Arbor City Council back in 1974. Although there were openly gay elected officials beforehand, those came out after their elections. Kozachenko ran on the Human Rights Party ticket.
Also in 1974, Elaine Noble became the first openly gay person elected to a state legislature when she was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Per the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute:
It was the height of desegregation, so Noble rode buses with children of color and had campaign workers monitor school bus stops to demonstrate her deep belief in equality. A gay newspaper reporter told her, “You should stick to your own kind, or we’re going to get someone else to represent us.” Noble responded, “Well, I believe, David, I am sticking with my own kind,” according to an interview Noble gave Ron Schlittler for his “Out and Elected in the USA: 1974–2004” project for OutHistory.org. “You can’t say that you want progress or change for one group and not for another. It doesn’t happen that way.”
In 1987, Barney Frank came out as the first openly gay member of Congress. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1980, but did not publicly come out until 1987. He would serve a long career in Congress, and was heavily involved in legislation in the wake of the 2008 mortgage crisis.
Although Barney Frank continued to comfortably win re-elections, it was not until 1998 that an openly gay person would win a Congressional election for their first term. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin was out as a lesbian when she was elected to the House of Representatives, and now serves as a Senator from Wisconsin.
Kim Coco Iwamoto would become the first openly transgender person to win election to a statewide office when she was elected to the Hawaii Board of Education. She has continued to be involved in politics, narrowly losing elections to the US House in 2020 and 2022.
In 2017, Danica Roem was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, becoming the first openly transgender elected legislator. In 2023, she is aiming for the Virginia Senate. Also she was a singer for a metal band, which is just rad.
And in 2020, Mauree Turner became the first openly nonbinary elected official, as well as the first Muslim representative elected to Oklahoma’s state House of Representatives. Turner was censured by the Oklahoma House after they sheltered a protester against the state’s bill to ban gender-affirming care in their office after the protester threw water on another representative. Turner refused to apologize, saying “I just provide my office as space of grace and love for all the folks in all communities that seek refuge from the hate in this building”.
The fight for equality continues, and it’s important to continue speaking up, advocating for, and protecting the LGBTQ+ community. But hopefully this is a nice spotlight to showcase just a few of the many people that choose to serve their community and country despite the challenges that they may face… and hopefully show that we the people have and will continue to come together to choose LGBTQ+ individuals to represent us.
Be kind and thoughtful today. Cheers.