'Rainbow Wave' Victories Now Top 220

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Sunday November 15, 2020

The number of LGBTQ candidates celebrating election victories in the 2020 elections has edged up to more than 220 and continues to grow, NBC News reports. The final tally might well match or surpass the 2018 midterm election total of 244 out candidates who prevailed.

This year's general election fielded a record total of 574 openly LGBTQ candidates running for federal, state, and local offices, NBC News noted, 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."

Princeton researcher Andrew Reynolds pointed out that "The really exciting thing about the election was not the increase — it was who is getting elected." Reynolds was talking about "victories by queer women, people of color and transgender candidates across the nation," NBC News said.

"Prior to Election Day, there were just 42 openly LGBTQ state legislators of color serving nationwide, only 13 of them Black," the news story went on to say. Now there will be considerably more.

Among the victors were openly gay African-American candidates Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres, both from New York, who made history as the first out Black candidates to win seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

There were similar victories for LGBTQ people of color in state legislatures across the country. The Associated Press reported that "In Georgia, Democrat Kim Jackson, a lesbian social justice advocate, became the first LGBTQ person to win a seat in the state Senate. Shevrin Jones, a gay former state representative, accomplished that same feat in Florida's Senate. And in New York, Jabari Brisport, a gay math teacher, became the first openly LGBTQ person of color elected to the legislature."

Meantime the AP noted, "In Oklahoma, Mauree Turner, a Democrat who is Black, Muslim and identifies as non-binary, won a seat in the state House."

NBC News took note of out lesbian candidate Kim Jackson's win for state senate in Georgia, while "Tiara Mack in Rhode Island and Marie Pinkney in Delaware also won their races, making major inroads for Black LGBTQ women across the U.S." and "Jabari Brisport won his race and will become the first openly LGBTQ person of color elected to New York's state Legislature." In Florida, Shevrin Jones is set "to become Florida's first LGBTQ state senator" following his win there.

In Kansas, Stephanie Byers, a Native American, became the first transgender person of color to win a seat in a state legislature when she prevailed in a contest for a place in the Kansas House of Representatives.

At the more local level, one race in particular carried a satisfying tinge of poetic justice: Former Deputy Charmaine McGuffey, who was fired in 2016 by the Sheriff of Hamilton County, Ohio, for being a lesbian, returned to crush her former boss in this year's primaries, winning 70% of the vote. She then cruised to victory over Republican opponent Bruce Hoffbauer.

A few LGBTQ candidates also lost their races, however, including openly lesbian Gina Ortiz Jones, a former Air Force intelligence officer, who ran for a congressional district in Texas. In Michigan, out candidate Jon Hoadley lost his bid to unseat Republican incumbent Rep. Fred Upton.

The Victory Fund celebrated those successes with press releases as the electoral triumphs piled up, but showed no signs of resting on its laurels. Text at the Victory Fund website encourages readers with the message "Let's work together to elect hundreds more.

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.

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