LGBTQ+ Candidates Win Up and Down the Ballot

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday November 3, 2021

Out trans Virginia State Delegate Danica Roem won her second re-election bid
Out trans Virginia State Delegate Danica Roem won her second re-election bid  (Source:Victory Fund)

The 2021 off-year election felt like a mini-replay of 2020's rainbow wave of LGBTQ+ candidates' victories, with some veteran lawmakers gaining new terms and others scoring first-time wins.

As was the case last year, the triumphs came in races of all sorts, from an LGBTQ+ school board member in Ohio, to a non-binary city councilor in a Massachusetts town, to the reelection of LGBTQ+ state delegates in Virginia.

And, as was the case in last year's elections, the Victory Fund supported a number of openly LGBTQ+ candidates for elected offices around the country.

Openly transgender Virginia State lawmaker Danica Roem beat an "anti-LGBTQ" opponent in order to secure a history-making second reelection bid, "ensuring she remains the longest-serving out trans state legislator in U.S. history," a Victory Fund news release noted.

"Virginia Delegate Mark Sickles also won reelection, while Delegate Dawn Adams' race remains too close to call," the release detailed.

Worcester, Massachusetts elected a non-binary city councilor in the process, making Thu Nguyen the first non-binary person to be elected in the state's history.

"Currently, there are just nine out non-binary elected officials in the entire nation," the Victory Fund said in a news release.

"Thu shattered a rainbow ceiling in Massachusetts and will join a growing number of non-binary elected officials serving across the nation," Victory Fund President and CEO Annise Parker said. Parker also happens to be a history-making politician, having been the first out lesbian elected to the office of Mayor in Houston, Texas.

"Their victory proves voters look beyond gender identity and will elect leaders with the qualifications and drive to improve people's lives," Parker added.

Nguyen's victory was echoed and multiplied in New York City, where six out LGBTQ+ city council candidates won office.

"Among the winners are Crystal Hudson (District 35) and Kristin Richardson Jordan (District 9), who will be the first two Black out LGBTQ women elected to the council," the Victory Fund said in a news release.

The newly-elected city councilors also include "Lynn Schulman (District 29) and Tiffany Cabán (District 22), who will be the first out LGBTQ women elected to any public office from Queens," the release continued. Also winning in their districts were "Chi Ossé (District 36), who will be the youngest person ever elected to the council, and Erik Bottcher (District 3), who will preserve LGBTQ representation in his district, an LGBTQ legacy seat that is home to the Stonewall Inn," the release added.

"As LGBTQ people and people of color continue to reel from economic and health disparities exacerbated by the pandemic, these new leaders will be on the frontlines ensuring inclusive legislation helps all New Yorkers recover," Parker noted. "This is a watershed moment for New York — and these LGBTQ candidates are ready to deliver."

Detroit, too, gained an out city council member, the Victory Fund announced. "Gabriela Santiago-Romero won her election for the Detroit City Council, making her the first out LGBTQ councilmember in the city's history," the new release said. "She is also the first Latinx out LGBTQ woman elected in the entire state of Michigan."

"Latinx people, LGBTQ people and women are severely underrepresented in government," Parker pointed out, "but Gabriela's victory will inspire more of them to consider public service and run for office in their communities."

Ohio voters elected the first openly transgender candidate in the state's history with the victory of Dion Manley to the Gahanna Jefferson School Board.

"His victory is especially significant given efforts by anti-trans activists across the nation to target trans students at school board meetings — emphasizing the need for more leaders like Dion to serve," Parker said in a news release about Dion's win. "When he takes office, Dion will humanize trans issues for constituents and colleagues and ensure trans students are protected."

As previously reported at EDGE, the 2020 elections saw a record-shattering 334 out LGBTQ+ candidates win office. TIME Magazine noted of last year's election: "Those wins spanned from Congressional seats to State Senate seats and local government offices, and nearly half were from non-incumbent candidates."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.