Photo Via House Creative Committee – https://jones.house.gov/about
The mid-term elections in 2022 represented the first time in American history that openly LGBTQ+ candidates ran in all fifty U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Not only was the total number of candidates over 18% higher than in the record-breaking 2020 cycle.
But the proportion of non-cisgender politicians and LGBTQ’s candidates of color also grew substantially.
Here are five Black LGBTQ candidates that made history in recent years by breaking through barriers and overcoming intersecting systemic obstacles:
1) Ritchie Torres
In 2020, Representative Ritchie Torres won his election to the House from New York’s 15th District, becoming the first Afro-Latino gay man to sit in the Congress. Even more surprisingly, Torres’ career actually began in 2013, when he beat the anti-LGBT Democrat Ruben Diaz Sr. to become the first LGBT person to be elected to the New York legislature, at the age of 25! As Torres himself pointed out, his election was “from the South Bronx, the place where you least might expect it.”
Torres stellar rise to power marks one of the most inspiring stories of overcoming hardships with dignity. Born dirt-poor to a single mom with two other siblings, Torres quite school and became a successful community organizer while barely 17. He views himself on a mission “to radically reduce racially concentrated poverty in the Bronx and elsewhere in America.”
2) Lori Lightfoot
Now a household name, the Mayor of Chicago Mrs. Lori Lightfoot was actually the first-ever Black LGBTQ woman to lead America’s 3rd largest city when she took office back in 2019. Mayor Lightfoot is openly lesbian, and married her long-time partner Amy Eshleman on the same day that the Illinois state legislature declared same-sex marriage legal. The inter-racial couple is living a happy family life with a ten-year-old daughter.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has a long history of public service. She had served as a federal prosecutor, chief of the staff for the city’s emergency management office, chief administrator of the office of professional standards, and chaired a civilian board tasked with reforming the city police after the police murder of Laquan McDonald. She will be up for re-election this year.
3) Mondaire Jones
The former Representative for New York’s 17th District, Mondaire Jones was the first gay Black representative to be ever elected to the Congress in U.S. history in the 2020 elections. At age 33, the political outsider won a highly competitive primary race and made history by proceeding on to the national stage two years ago.
Mondaire Jones is unabashedly progressive and sees social security and poverty-reduction measures as the keystones of his campaign. Unfortunately, due to a series of mishaps and misfortunes, Jones became a one-time Representative and lost his seat this November.
4) Kim Jackson
In 2020, Kim Jackson from Stone Mountain, Georgia, made history by becoming the first Black female LGBTQ+ state Senator in U.S. history. With nearly 80% approval, the 38-year-old priest’s election, in her own words, “is an indicator that this isn’t my grandmother’s south.” Jackson ran on a progressive platform promising to fight for equal education and better housing for the people of Georgia.
Born in West Virginia, Kimberly Sue Jackson devoted her life to her faith by enrolling in Candler School of Theology. She has been practicing as a Christian priest for over a decade, and was the first priest of color to be ordained in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. Jackson has also worked as an EMT and lives with her wife on a five-acre farm in the suburbs of Atlanta.