Queer folks are playing a major role in this year's Democratic National Conversion — and in Democrat politics overall. In addition to the Karine Jean-Pierre being selected as the chief-of-staff to the party's expected Vice President nominee, there are quite a few LGBTQ+ politicians getting screen time during this week's convention. Veronica Pejril, Pete Buttigieg, and Craig Hickman all took part in Tuesday night's airing of the virtual event, but the night also hosted a historic moment.
For the night's keynote address, 17 politicians took part in one extended speech, montaged together. The inclusion of Georgia State Representative Sam Park, Pennsylvania State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta, and Long Beach, California Mayor Robert Garcia, marked the first time LGBTTQ+ folks had developed a keynote address at the event.
Meet them here.
His appearance as a part of the address sent gay Twitter into a deluge of thirst tweets, bit was certainly not the first time Park had been noticed. Before making DNC history, in 2016 he became the first out gay man and first Asian American Democrat elected to the Georgia State Legislature. He is the son of Korean American immigrants and previously interned for Stacey Abrams. He was partially inspired to run for office after his mother was diagnosed with cancer, and she cast her vote in his race for the first time in 30 years. For the DNC speech, Park spoke to Trump's botched handling of the ongoing global pandemic drawing attention to the fact that "teachers in Gwinnett County, Georgia and across the country are being asked to return to the classroom without a plan to keep them safe and parents are exhausted juggling full-time work and full-time child care."
Garcia made the stakes of this moment plain for one of his appearances in the DNC speech. "We're facing the biggest economic and health crisis in generations because our President didn't and still doesn't have a plan, he said in the video. And for Garcia the stakes are personal: he lost both parents, within weeks of one another, to the pandemic. “You deserve more than the constant chaos that Donald Trump delivers.”
Garcia previously made history when he became the youngest person elected to Long Beach City Council in 2009, and then became the first out queer person elected mayor of Long Beach in 2014.
Kenyatta did not come alone to his in-home taping. Early in the speech, he spoke to the "doctors nurses and home health care aids in Philadelphia have to risk their own lives to protect others because there's not enough protective equipment." He said that as part of a greater point, illustrating a need for a change in leadership. But later, when describing who that new leader might be, Kenyatta brought in his fiance.
"When I wanted to marry the man I loved, Joe Biden was the first national figure to support me and my family," the representative said alongside his fiance Dr. Matthew Jordan Miller. Kenyatta previously made history made history as the first out queer person of color to win state office in Pennsylvania.