Since about 2018 we've been discussing "rainbow waves," or election cycles that boast a large group of LGBTQ+ candidates getting voted into office. That continued in 2019 when over 80 queer and trans candidates won elections. Now, a new report from the LGBTQ Victory Institute says a history-making 850 LGBTQ+ candidates are running for office this year. This comes in addition to the 843 current LGBTQ+ elected officials. But while those numbers seem large, analysts are insisting on proper context.
“While LGBTQ people are running for office in historic numbers, we remain severely underrepresented at every level of government – and that must change,” Mayor Annise Parker, president & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute, said in a statement. “We know that when LGBTQ people are in elected office and in the halls of power, they change the hearts and minds of their colleagues and it leads to more inclusive legislation.”
The Out For America report paints a mixed picture. Taken at a wider scope, there are nearly 520,000 elected positions in the country. That means that just .17 percent representation in the halls of power when 4.5 percent of the population identifies as LGBTQ+. According to the report, at least another 22,500 queer candidates would need to take office to achieve equal representation.
“Over the past year, LGBTQ elected officials have been on the frontlines — leading efforts to end racism, blocking bills targeting the trans community and passing legislation that moves equality forward for our community,” Ruben Gonzales, Vice President of LGBTQ Victory Institute, said in a statement, citing the importance of adding more LGBTQ+ elected officials. “Allies are important, but LGBTQ representation in the halls of power is critical to the success of our movement.”
Among the queer candidates for congress this year are openly LGBTQ+ Afro-Latinx Ritchie Torres, who defeated homophobic and transphobic Trump supporter Ruben Diaz, Sr., in the 15th congressional district. Black queer candidate Mondaire Jones was victorious in the 17th congressional district. Latinx Georgette Gómez is running for California’s 53rd congressional district in San Diego.
Rosemary Ketchum became the first out trans elected official in the history of West Virginia, and one of only four LGBTQ+ officials in the state.
“Richie and Mondaire have shattered a long-standing political barrier with their primary wins, putting them on-track to becoming the first two openly LGBTQ Black members of Congress," Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement. "Black LGBTQ people – like all LGBTQ people – are severely underrepresented at every level of government, but this gives hope that we are moving toward building a U.S. Congress that is more representative of the people it serves."