On Tuesday, millions flocked to their local polling places to make their voices heard for the midterm elections. Across the country, people voted for mayors, governors and senators. It was a tough race for some of these candidates, but LGBTQ+ history was made in several states.
Earlier this year, Gallup poll results were released revealing an alarming gap in LGBTQ+ people who hold government positions, comprising only 0.2 percent of thousands of positions across all levels. According to the Victory Institute, a national organization that advocates for LGBTQ+ leaders, "voters need to elect 35,876 more LGBTQ people to public office" to achieve equitable representation. As of February 2022, there were only 1,021 elected officials that identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Thankfully, that number is a bit higher after the midterm elections. Some states even welcomed their first LGBTQ+ elected official in history. According to Axios, 2022 marked the first time in history LGBTQ+ candidates ran for election in all 50 states and Washington D.C., many of whom were also people of color.
Below, check out some of the queer winners of the 2022 midterms.
Robert Garcia (D) — California
Photo courtesy of Robert Garcia
Long Beach, California mayor Garcia is moving up and is headed to Washington DC as the first LGBTQ+ immigrant to serve in Congress.
Born in Peru, Garcia immigrated to the United States when he was 5 years old, inspiring him to eventually pursue public service. "My mom brought me to America not knowing English, without an education, and without the right immigration status," he says on his campaign website. "We came here on a temporary visa and stayed past its expiration date. But thanks to a progressive change in immigration law passed by Congress in the 1980s, we were able to apply for permanent legal residency. I became a US citizen at 21. It was the happiest day of my life."
"Hispanics are a community that loves our families, and that includes trans and LGBTQ people, but we must understand that if the Republicans win more seats in Congress, they will have more power to take away rights from women and gay people," Garcia said in an interview with Telemundo. "And that is not what we want for this great country that must always go forward."
After losing his mother and stepfather to COVID-19, Garcia took a hard stance on vaccination and public health efforts during the pandemic. His response earned him recognition from President Joe Biden as a model for how cities should respond. Due to his efforts, Long Beach was able to encourage 99% of seniors and teachers to get vaccinated.
James Roesener (D) – New Hampshire
\u201cDemocrat James Roesener, a bisexual transgender man, was elected to New Hampshire House of Representatives, District 22 Ward 8. He is the first openly transgender man to win in any state legislature election.\u201d— Rainbow Youth Project USA (@Rainbow Youth Project USA) 1668064378
James Roesener may be only 26 years old, but he's already made history. Not only is he adding to the growing number of LGBTQ+ individuals holding elected positions, but he's also now the first out transgender man elected to state legislature.
Prior to his historic win, Roesener was just a manager of Thorne's, an adult boutique in Concord, New Hampshire. Now he can add State Representative to his resume.
This was Roesener's first political campaign, but according to the Concord Monitor, he's been involved in activism for his whole life, fighting for animal rights and eventually becoming more involved in LGBTQ+ and reproductive rights causes.
“My election, this means saying ‘we're not going anywhere,’” he told Concord Monitor.
Erick Russell (D) – Connecticut
Photo courtesy of Erick Russell
Erick Russell has made history by being the first Black gay statewide official.
Russell prides himself on being the first college graduate in his family, eventually completing law school. He now practices at a prestigious firm, focusing on "representing municipalities, state agencies and the state in financing critical infrastructure projects, such as schools, affordable housing, child care facilities, and transportation infrastructure, managing debt and restructuring pension obligations," according to his campaign site.
Much of his work is directed through the Office of Treasurer, inspiring him to run for the position himself. He also boasts countless endorsements across all levels of government, proving that he is more than fit for the job.
Becca Balint (D) — Vermont
\u201cThank you, Vermonters! Thank you for your confidence in me. Thank you for giving me this incredible honor and opportunity to serve this state I love so much.\n\nToday, we reaffirmed that Vermont, and this nation, is still a place where anything is possible.\u201d— Becca Balint for Congress (@Becca Balint for Congress) 1667969969
Becca Balint's win to represent Congress for Vermont is doubly historic. She's the first woman to serve as in Congress from Vermont — and the first out gay person to do so, too.
Balint, who was born in West Germany and raised in New York, has lived in Vermont since 1994. She served as the majority leader in the Vermont state senate from 2017 to 2021. Balint is a self-described "outsider" who feels a deep sense of empathy for marginalized communities.
Maura Healey (D) — Massachusetts
Photo courtesy of Maura Healey
Maura Healey was elected this week to be the next governor of Massachusetts. Once she takes office, she'll be the first out lesbian governor the US has ever seen.
Healey has served as Massachusetts' attorney general since 2015. She's spent much of her political and legal career fighting for civil rights, taking on such gargantuan tasks as combatting the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Once she takes office, Healey will be the third US governor to openly identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Photo courtesy of Boris Stromar/Shutterstock