The 2022 midterm polls proved a historic occasion for the LGBTQ community, as many community members ran for office and won their race.
As per a recent count, around 340 LGBTQ candidates won their respective races, beating the 2020 record of 336 wins. Meanwhile, over 678 openly LGBTQ candidates ran for a seat, the most ever in a general election in the United States. The high turnout of non-binary candidates sent positive waves across the country. Victory Fund, an organization supporting the LGBTQ community, expressed its delight at its high political representation.
Victory Fund started in 1991. And since then, it has vested its support to LGBTQ candidates vying for public office. Through its resources, the organization trains the candidates on how to campaign and introduces them to a vast network. This allows them to build their image and learn from elected LGBTQ candidates. According to the company’s Vice President of Political Programs, Sean Meloy, the organization funded and endorsed more than 500 candidates in the 2022 polls.
“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.
LGBTQ community making historic firsts
During the midterm elections, the community made a lot of firsts. For instance, the US electorate elected its first openly lesbian candidates, Tina Kotek from Oregon and Maura Healey from Massachusetts.
For the first time in US history, the first Black LGBTQ person won a seat in Connecticut. Meanwhile, James Roesener became the first trans man to enter the US state legislature after winning in New Hampshire. Zooey Sephyr also made a first as the first openly trans person to win a state legislature.
“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.
Victory Fund added that the fight is far from over. To reach equal representation in the political landscape, the US needs around 35,000 more LGBTQ officials. However, Meloy stays confident of this possibility. He said more individuals among Millenials and the GenZs identify as a member of the community.
“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.