For the LGBTQ community, the 2022 midterm elections proved a historic occasion as community members campaigned and finished triumphantly.
According to a recent tally, more than 340 LGBTQ candidates prevailed in their elections. It broke the previous high of 336 victories set in 2020. In addition, the most openly LGBTQ candidates have ever run for office in a general election in the United States, with over 678. Positive ripples spread around the nation due to the significant non-binary candidate turnout. A group that supports the LGBTQ community called Victory Fund expressed its happiness at the high level of political representation.
Victory Fund began in 1991. It has since given its backing to LGBTQ candidates running for public office. The group provides the candidates with campaigning training and networking opportunities through its resources.
This enables them to improve their public image and gain knowledge from elected LGBTQ candidates. Sean Meloy, the organization’s vice president of political programs, claims that the group supported and sponsored more than 500 candidates in the 2022 elections.
“Normally, when someone gets in [office], they don’t pull the ladder up after. Instead, they’re going to say, ‘Hey, who’s next? Who’s going to take over for me? Who else can I get to join me?’ So I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we have more LGBTQ candidates running than ever at the same time we have the most LGBTQ people in the office,” he said.
“People of color, trans people and nonbinary people. And in places where we need those voices, and the mere fact that an LGBTQ person steps forward to run – and then hopefully win – helps change hearts and minds,” Meloy added.
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LGBTQ making history
During the midterms, the community experienced many firsts. For instance, Tina Kotek from Oregon and Maura Healey from Massachusetts won the US electorate and will now serve as the country’s first openly lesbian politician.
The first Black LGBTQ candidate in Connecticut was elected to a seat for the first time in US history. James Roesener from New Hampshire, became the first transgender person elected to a state legislature in the US. As the first openly transgender person to win a state legislature, Zooey Sephyr also made history.
“I always hesitate to call an election historic, because the attacks on human rights, education, healthcare, public lands, unions, etc. feel perpetual. However, every election requires our attention because there is always something important worth fighting for. And if we fail to fight to our fullest, there are always groups waiting to strip our rights away,” Sephyr said.
“I think, given how attacks on LGBTQ people have ramped up over the last year has served as a reminder that LGBTQ people need to be in the room where the laws are being written. For example, 300+ anti-LGBTQ pieces of legislation were introduced last year. And over half of which targeted trans people specifically,” she added.
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The battle, Victory Fund continued, is far from done. The United States requires an additional 35,000 LGBTQ officials to achieve equal representation in the political scene. However, Meloy remains optimistic about this potential. He said more people in the GenZ and Millennial generations identify as belonging to the group.
“I think it shows that it’s possible, right? And so many underrepresented people in government – women, young people, people of color, LGBTQ people, disabled people – they’re always told, ‘Oh, you can’t do it […] because it hasn’t been done. So breaking that barrier makes that argument – ‘No.’ Which is a huge starting point,” he said.
Photo Credit: Mark Lennihan