Updated: Jul 25, 2020
2020 has been a difficult year for everyone—but most especially for Black and LGBTQ Americans. While we’ve witnessed the Trump administration and state legislatures across the country working fervently over the last four years to take away many crucial rights from the LGBTQ population, including access to healthcare for transgender citizens, fighting adoption rights for queer families and even the ability to serve openly as a transgender person in the military, for example.
Despite all of these discriminatory policies, we have reason to hope for the future. In a major win for LGBTQ Americans, in June of 2020, we saw the Supreme Court stand up for our workplace rights in a historic decision that affects millions of LGBTQ Americans with a determination that said the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex.
Now, a new study from the LGBTQ Victory Institute provides some positive news—there is rapid growth in the number of queer elected representatives in the United States, according to their annual Out for America Report. This is encouraging news for minorities living in the U.S.A., presenting a more optimistic picture of the future then the one most of us have been dreading with an uncertain presidential election looming.
The report published by the nonprofit organization in June revealed that there are 843 openly LGBTQ elected representatives currently serving in the U.S. On the other hand, the report also provides some grim statistics and shows how far we must go in order to achieve equal representation in government.
According to the stats, we need 22,544 more LGBTQ individuals serving openly in office in order to achieve equal representation in the U.S. We can only imagine how that would change things—can you imagine having a queer or trans president serving openly in the next ten years? It should be more attainable than we think.
According to the report, there was a 40 percent increase in trans women elected officials since 2019 and most dramatically, a 71 percent increase in queer elected officials and a 35 percent increase in LGBTQ mayors from 2019.
The study also provides a pie chart that looks at trends over the last 3 years and reveals some more encouraging news—LGBTQ officials are increasingly becoming more diverse as opposed to white and cisgender elected officials. However, there is still a long way to go.
Currently, white people make up the majority at 77 percent with 10 percent Hispanic, 6 percent Black, 2 percent multiracial and Asian/Pacific Islander and less than 1 percent Native American and Middle Eastern officials serving. For more information on this year’s report, click here.
Notable new elected LGBTQ officials of 2020 include Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the openly lesbian mayor from Chicago, Mondaire Jones, an openly gay Black attorney who is the winner of the Democratic primary for New York’s 17th Congressional District, and Councilman Ritchie Torres who declared a historic win on Wednesday in the Democratic Primary. Torres is the first openly gay candidate to be elected to legislative office in the Bronx, New York.
As Americans, it’s our civic duty to vote, and as a minority, we need to seriously consider the possibility of running for office ourselves or asking our LGBTQ friends, family members and neighbors to get more involved in local politics. Our voices do make a difference, but we need to be in those spaces of power to be able to speak.
Visit outforamerica.org to view all of the Black LGBTQ elected officials currently serving in the United States.