Out Congressman-Elect: 'Old Boys Club' Politics 'Collapsing' under Rainbow Wave

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday November 16, 2020

Citing the "rainbow wave" that has, so far, seen more than 220 out LGBTQ candidates of both parties win races at the federal, state, and local levels—including himself—Congressman-elect Ritchie Torres declared the "old boys club" brand of politics is done, Reuters reports.

The Bronx-born Torres, 32, is set to become the first out gay Afro-Latin member of the U.S. House of Representatives following his win in last week's general elections.

"I never thought in my wildest dreams that as a poor kid from the Bronx, I would become a United States congressman," the incoming congressman told Reuters. Torres will be joined in the House by fellow New Yorker Mondair Jones, who, Reuters noted, "will be the first openly-gay African-American congressman."

Torres proclaimed the coast-to-coast victories of LGBTQ candidates to mark a new era in progressive politics. "We're witnessing the collapse of politics as an old boys club," he told Reuters, "and we're witnessing the embrace of America as a multiracial, multiethnic, inclusive democracy."

Among his legislative priorities, Torres said, is the Equality Act, federal legislation that would protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination across a broad range of life, including at work and with regard to housing and credit. President-elect Joe Biden has also said that he will make passage of the Equality Act a priority during his first 100 days in office.

Citing Sec. Elizabeth Warren's famed quote, Torres told the media, "A wise person once said, 'If you don't have a seat at the table, then you're probably on the menu.'"

Now, Torres said, "LGBTQ people of color are about to have a seat in one of the most powerful tables," the Reuters story said.

This year's general election fielded a record total of 574 openly LGBTQ candidates running for federal, state, and local offices, NBC News reported, as compared to 432 in 2018.

This year's "rainbow wave" was propelled in large part by the Victory Fund - an equality advocacy group that supports LGBTQ candidates in races at all levels of government, and of both parties, across the country.

"Twenty-six openly LGBTQ candidates for U.S. Senate or House were on the November ballot—the most in U.S. history," the NBC News story said. "Even with one gay incumbent's House race yet to be called, LGBTQ representation in Congress will hit an all-time high next session."

Moreover, "If all incumbents win, as is expected, it will increase LGBTQ representation in the House to nine, from seven, with 11 total LGBTQ people in Congress."

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.