The 2022 midterm elections turned out a momentous occasion for the LGBTQ community as numerous members ran and gained seats.
According to a recent tally, more LGBTQ candidates than ever before won their campaigns, breaking the previous record set in 2020 of 336 victories. In addition, the largest number of openly LGBTQ candidates to ever run in a general election in the United States, over 678, sought office. The country felt positive ripples due to the large non-binary candidate turnout. The LGBTQ community’s strong political presence has been praised by the group Victory Fund.
Victory Fund started operating in 1991. Since then, it has committed to backing LGBTQ candidates for public office. In addition, the group uses its resources to provide the candidates with campaigning training and networking opportunities.
By doing so, they may improve their public image and get insight from elected LGBTQ candidates. Sean Meloy, the company’s vice president of political programs, claims that more than 500 candidates in the 2022 elections received funding and endorsements from the group.
“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 and its milestone
The community gained many firsts during the midterm elections. For instance, the US electorate chose Massachusetts’ Maura Healey and Oregon’s Tina Kotek. They will now serve as the state’s first openly lesbian candidates.
A Black LGBTQ person won a seat in Connecticut for the first time in US history. In the meantime, James Roesener won in New Hampshire and became the first transgender person to serve in a state legislature in the US. As the first openly transgender candidate for a state legislature, Zooey Sephyr also made history.
“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. 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.
The community’s future
The struggle is still far from done, Victory Fund added. The US needs around 35,000 additional LGBTQ politicians to achieve equal representation in the political scene. However, Meloy remains optimistic about this potential. He says a more significant proportion of millennials and members of Generation Z identify as belonging to the group.
“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.
Photo Credit: Mark Lennihan