It looks like the latest rainbow wave actually happened. After a history-making out LGBTQ+ candidates appeared on ballots this year (570 of those were on ballots this week) over 160 of them have secured victories.
“With the presidential race up in the air, it is admittedly tough to focus on the positive,”Annise Parker, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, said in a statement. Victory Fund endorsed many of the candidates. “Yet last night LGBTQ candidates made historic inroads in state legislatures across the country, winning in states and chambers where we never have before.”
Here are a selection of those wins including the history-making ones, as well as a few highlights of the reelections.
San Diego has elected their first ever out LGBTQ+ mayor in gay Democratic state assemblyman Todd Gloria. Gloria had previously served a short term as the city’s interim mayor in late 2013 through early 2014, following then mayor Bob Filner’s resignation because of sexual harassment accusations. Gloria, a member of the Tlingit-Haida tribe who also has Filipino and Puerto Rican ancestry, is also the first person of color to be elected mayor of the city.
Holstege was re-elected to the Palm Springs City Council, which means she’s poised to become the first out bisexual mayor in the country. Instead of directly electing a mayor, Palm Springs rotates the position among City Council members. With her win, Holstege also becomes the city’s first female mayor.
Holstege, who represents the city’s 4th District, won the position against two opponents who used biphobic attacks to try to defeat her. Since she is married to a man and pregnant, her opponents claimed she was pretended to be part of the LGBTQ+ community to get votes.
McBride became the first out trans person ever elected to a state senate seat in the U.S. tonight.
“Sarah’s overwhelming victory is a powerful testament to the growing influence of transgender leaders in our politics and gives hope to countless trans people looking toward a brighter future," Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement. "Throughout this election cycle, Donald Trump and other cynical politicians attempted to use trans people as a political weapon, believing they could gain popularity by stoking fear and hate. For Sarah to shatter a lavender ceiling in such a polarizing year is a powerful reminder that voters are increasingly rejecting the politics of bigotry in favor of candidates who stand for fairness and equality. Her victory will inspire more trans people to follow in her footsteps and run for public office.”
McBride has had quite the high profile career. She was the first out trans person to ever work at the White House when she interned there. She also was the first trans person to speak at a national political convention in 2016.
Jones is the first out LGBTQ+ person ever to be elected to the upper chamber when he won his race for the Florida state Senate. A preacher’s son, Jones previously served in Florida’s House of Representatives, a seat he won in 2012. “Shevrin shattered a long-standing political barrier for LGBTQ candidates in Florida and his victory will resonate far beyond the boundaries of his state,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund. “Shevrin will be one of just two Black gay men serving in state senates and his victory is certain to inspire more Black LGBTQ leaders to step up and run themselves. The politics of division and hatred failed in this race and gave way to a government that is more representative of the people it serves.”
Torres became the first gay LGBTQ+ Afro-Latinx member of Congress when he won a seat in the U.S. House representing New York’s 14th Congressional District. “Most would have thought New York City’s first LGBTQ member of Congress would be from Chelsea or Greenwich Village or Hell’s Kitchen, but the Bronx beat them to it,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund. “As our nation attempts to tackle systemic racism, police reform and healthcare disparities, Ritchie’s lived experience as an out LGBTQ Afro-Latinx man will bring an essential perspective to Capitol Hill. Ritchie’s election gives hope at a time when many Americans desperately need it. He will become a role model for LGBTQ youth in the Bronx and beyond.” This isn’t the first time Torres has made history. In 2013, at age 25, he became the youngest elected official in New York City when he won a seat in the city council. He also became the first member of the LGBTQ+ community elected from the Bronx in that same election.
Small became the first out trans person to be elected to the Vermont state legislature.
“The impact of Taylor’s groundbreaking victory cannot be overstated," Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, which endorsed Small, said in a statement. "There are so few transgender people in elected office that nearly every win is a historic one, yet with each barrier broken comes more trans people inspired to do the same. Even pro-equality states like Vermont need trans voices in government to ensure the priorities and concerns of the community are heard. Taylor will bring that perspective to the state House and Vermont can be a leader on trans equality because of it.”
Byers being elected to the Kansas state House makes her the first out trans person of color ever to be elected to a state legislature in the U.S.
"Stephanie shattered a lavender ceiling in Kansas and its impact will reverberate well beyond the borders of the state," Mayor Annise Parker, President and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund said in a release. Byers was preceded by state representatives Susan Ruiz and Brandon Woodard, who were other LGBTQ+ politicians in Kansas state legislature.
Kim Jackson became the first LGBTQ+ person elected to Georgia state Senate. There are currently only three Black LGBTQ+ women state senators in the entire country. “Kim shattered a lavender ceiling and is paving the way for a state government that is more representative of the people it serves,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund. “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. As an Episcopal priest, Kim can diffuse legislators who claim religion as the reason they oppose equality and will make clear that many LGBTQ people are of faith too. While Georgia lags nearly every state in the nation in protections for LGBTQ people, Kim’s victory ensures our community has a voice at the table and gives hope that more are on the way.”
Benham, who is bisexual, won a seat as a state representative in Pennsylvania, making her the first out LGBTQ+ woman to hold office in the state. She also becomes one of the few autistic lawmakers at the state level. Benham represents House District 36.
Tam won 63 percent of the vote in his election, making him the only out LGBTQ+ member of Hawaii’s House of Representatives. The 28 year-old Tam represents Hawaii’s 22nd District, which includes Waikiki, Ala Moana, and Kakaako on Oahu. The race drew national attention because Tam’s opponent in the race was Nick Ochs, a member of the far right extremist group The Proud Boys.
After serving in the state's House of Representatives, Razer has landed in the Missouri state Senate.
"To the people of Kansas City, Grandview and Lee’s Summit, thank you for your overwhelming support yesterday," he tweeted. "The campaign is now over and it’s time to get to work - the work of rebuilding our state and ensuring our region continues to lead the way."
Sims, who was first elected in 2012, was the first out gay elected state legislator in Pennsylvania. The lawyer and LGBTQ+ civil rights activist was re-elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives this week. On Twitter, he thanked voters, saying “With the support and guidance of countless friends & neighbors, I’m humbled to say that I have been re-elected to the House of Representatives! Fighting for equality is the work of my life, & because of you, I can continue to do that every day in the Capitol!”
THANK YOU: With the support and guidance of countless friends & neighbors, I’m humbled to say that I have been re-elected to the House of Representatives! Fighting for equality is the work of my life, & because of you, I can continue to do that every day in the Capitol! #ThankYou pic.twitter.com/VBrGxcPdKB
— Brian Sims (@BrianSimsPA) November 5, 2020
In 2018, Kenyatta became the first out LGBTQ+ person of color to be nominated by a major political party for a state office in Pennsylvania. He won in a landslide and became both one of the youngest elected State Representatives in Pennsylvania and the first out gay representative of color in the legislature. This year, after getting engaged and fighting voter suppression, Kenyatta ran for reelection, to continue representing the 181st District and won.