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First LGBTQ+ Black and Afro-Latinx congressmen in US history elected

Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres, two New York Democrats, have become the first out LGBTQ+ Black and Afro-Latinx politicians elected to Congress after the election on Tuesday, November 3. 

Mondaire Jones, a former US Department of Justice worker under Barack Obama, won in New York’s 17th congressional district over Republican candidate Maureen McArdle Schulman.Concurrently, Afro-Latinx New York City councilman Ritchie Torres won against Republican candidate Orlando Molina in New York’s Democratic 15th congressional district.

After the race was called, Torres stated: “Tonight, a new era begins for the South Bronx. It is the honor of a lifetime to represent a borough filled with essential workers who risked their lives so that New York City could live.”

“My pledge to the district is simple: I will fight for you”, he goes on to say. “The Bronx is my home, it is what made me who I am, and it is what I will fight for in Congress. I thank the voters of the South Bronx from the bottom of my heart for the trust they put in me to represent them.”

Torres’ path was not easy, after having to face down an anti-LGBTQ preacher earlier this year for a seat in the Democratic Primary. He also endured homophobic attacks from a police union official who referred to him as a “first class w***e.

At the time of the attacks, the candidate responded: “My message to the homophobes of SBA NYPD: I’m here. I’m queer. I’m not going anywhere. And whether you like it or not, I’m heading to the United States Congress.”

Annise Parker, of LGBTQ Victory Fund stated: “Mondaire and Ritchie have shattered a rainbow ceiling and will bring unique perspectives based on lived experiences never before represented in the US Congress.”

She goes on to say: “As our nation grapples with racism, police brutality and a pandemic that disproportionately affects people of color and LGBTQ people, these are the voices that can pull us from the brink and toward a more united and fair society. Their elections will end any doubts about the electability of Black LGBTQ men to our nation’s highest legislative body. It will also inspire more young LGBTQ leaders and leaders of colour to run and serve.”

Congressperson Barbara Jordan was the first known gay Black congressperson, even though she never addressed her sexuality publicly during her lifetime. Her obituary mentioned her long term relationship with another woman.

Of the seven out LGBTQ+ people currently serving in Congress, Sharice Davids, a Native American of the Ho-Chunk Nation, is the only person of color. The two other LGBTQ+ Congressional candidates who could make history are Texas candidate Gina Ortiz Jones — who could possibly become the first out LGBTQ+ Filipina woman in Congress, and California’s  Georgette Gomez — who could become the first openly LGBTQ Latina elected to Congress.

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Kyle Jackson

Kyle Jackson (He/Him) is Senior Staff Writer at Gray Jones Media, and additionally works as a writer, editor and theatre artist/actor. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, he studied at Dillard University, received a BA in Theatre from Morgan State University, an MS in Arts Administration from Drexel University, and completed the British American Drama Academy’s Midsummer in Oxford Programme in 2017. Having lived in Baltimore, the Washington, DC area, Philadelphia and New York City, he now resides and works in London, United Kingdom.