Fourteen years after declaring "Duh, I'm bisexual,” newly elected US senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), the first openly bisexual US Senator and second out LGBTQ+ one after Tammie Baldwin (D-WI), was sworn in Thursday during the seating of the 116th congress. It was a historic day in Congress for many reasons, most notably the the swearing in of 102 women — 35 of whom, including Sinema, will be serving for the first time. Sinema also holds the distinction of being the first woman elected as a U.S. Senator from Arizona.
Not just that, but Sinema's swearing-in look was an Elle Woodsian pink dream. The Washington Post’s fashion critic Robin Givhan said it best when describing Sinema’s ensemble yesterday, calling it “frothy and lighthearted.” She continued, expertly calling attention to the subliminal message in Sinema’s choice of wardrobe: “It was a little sexy but mostly sassy. It was a rejection of stuffiness. It was the antithesis of gruff, white-haired men in dark suits. And if anyone thought it was inappropriate or silly, well, the only response to that sentiment is that Sinema won the election and her constituents surely knew exactly what they would be getting — which is not their grandma’s senator.”
— Elizabeth Landers (@ElizLanders) January 3, 2019
And then there was a less subliminal, downright hilarious, message Sinema delivered while being sworn in by Mike Pence, one of the most notoriously homophobic inhabitants of Washington.
“Where should I stand?” Sinema asked, holding the law book she would swear in on instead of The Bible. Then, she joked: “Oh, it says spouse. Could we get a spouse?” before proclaiming “just kidding twice” to the press corps. (Please note Pence’s attempt at laughing along with her.) It was moments of levity like this, and watching Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib's sons dab after watching their mother cast her first vote, or Jennifer Wexton wasting no time putting a trans flag outside her office, that signaled a change in course — not just of the leadership, but of the tone moving forward.
Sinema now stands as one of ten out LGBTQ+ lawmakers in Congress, a number that may seem small but reflects the inroads we’ve made in increasing our representation at the state and federal level. As we exit what many refer to as 20GayTeen, Sinema’s mere presence in Congress is a rebuke to Trumpism and a sign of a future where we sit no longer idly in the passenger seat.