Congress Now Has More Openly LGBTQ Officials Than Ever Before

Olivia Harvey
·5-min read

Getty Images, Dia Dipasupil / Staff, TIMOTHY A. CLARY / Contributor, Gary Miller / Contributor

On Election Day, November 3rd, citizens spoke up about how they want the future of the United States to look—and electing Joe Biden as president and Kamala Harris, the first woman, Black, and Indian American vice president is just the tip of the iceberg of change. Nationwide, Americans voted for underrepresented minorities to hold influential seats in Congress, and it's clear that diversity and representation for all is what voters want in present and future America.

And if you're excited about a Biden-Harris administration, you're going to love the other incredible candidates that were chosen to represent (and made history in) their states.

Six states voted in eight transgender, gender-nonconforming, and nonbinary candidates.

Three incumbent transgender state legislators — Brianna Titone of Colorado and Gerri Cannon and Lisa Bunker of New Hampshire — all won reelection in their respective states. The fourth incumbent transgender legislator, and the first transgender legislator ever elected, Virginia Delegate Danica Roem, will be up for reelection in 2021.

Sarah McBride of Delaware became the first-ever openly transgender person elected to the Senate. And Joshua Query was reelected as a New Hampshire representative after coming out as gender-nonconforming during their first term.

Taylor Small of Vermont is the first transgender person elected to Vermont's state Legislature, Mauree Turner, who identifies as nonbinary, is the first nonbinary, Black, and Muslim representative to hold a seat in Oklahoma (and the first nonbinary person elected to a state legislature period), and Stephanie Byers of Kansas is the first transgender woman of color (she's a member of the Native American Chickasaw Nation) to be elected to any state legislature nationwide.

Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres are the first openly LGBTQ Black members of Congress.

Jones, a Democrat, defeated Republican Maureen McArdle Schulman in the race for a House seat in New York's 17th Congressional District. And Democrat Ritchie Torres won in New York's 15th Congressional District in his race against Republican Patrick Delices.

After winning the primary in July, Jones said in a statement, per Reuters, "Growing up poor, black, and gay, I never imagined someone like me could run for Congress, let alone win. Indeed, in the 244-year history of the United States, there has never been an openly gay, black member of Congress. That changes this year, thanks to the great people of New York’s 17th Congressional District.”

"I'm excited about serving with Ritchie," Jones told NBC News. "He's a tremendous candidate and a good friend. This is a chance for us to be the role model we looked for growing up — for queer youth and especially queer youth of color."

Torres is the first openly-gay elected official in the Bronx and plans to focus his attentions on police reform as well as righting the "homophobic culture" in the borough, which he blames on his fellow City Council member Ruben Diaz Sr., who voted against the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2009 and 2011.

Cori Bush is the first Black Congresswoman in Missouri.

Before she added Congresswoman-elect to her title, Cori Bush was called Pastor and RN. She slid into the winning spot in Missouri's First Congressional District with a 60% lead over incumbent Democrat Lacy Clay, who represented the district for nearly 20 years.

You may recognize Bush from the 2019 Netflix documentary Knock Down The House, which followed four working class progressive candidates including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was elected in New York for a second time on November 3rd.

Bush experienced homelessness, having to flee from an abusive relationship, single-parenthood, and surviving COVID-19. She became an activist in 2014 after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown which led to massive protests in Ferguson, Missouri, which she attended and led marches.

Now, she's a proud member of "The Squad," and aims to bring progressive ideas to Congress and alongside the likes of AOC, Ayanna Pressley, and Ilhan Omar.

There will likely be 11 openly-LGBTQ members of Congress—the most in U.S. history.

Six of the seven incumbent Democratic candidates have been reelected as of November 8th, though mail-in ballots are still being considered in several states.

David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Chris Pappas of New Hampshire, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, Angie Craig of Minnesota, Mark Takano of California and Sharice Davids of Kansas, who became first openly-gay Native American member of Congress in 2018, have all been reelected, and according to NBC News, Sean Patrick Maloney is currently in the lead in his race in New York, which has yet to be declared.

Furthermore, there were over two dozen openly-gay congressional candidates on ballots nationwide, and with the above candidates having been successfully and democratically voted into office, there's clearly a massive shift going on into a more progressive era in political history. It's about time.