Every year from September 15 to October 15, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month by celebrating the rich history and cultural diversity of Latinx people across America.
In the United States, there are 76 Latinx elected officials who identify as LGBTQ, and that number is steadily growing. Leading the pack is California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, who made history in 2018 when he became the first openly LGBTQ person to be elected statewide in the Golden State. In addition to Commissioner Lara, 20 queer Latinx officials serve as legislators, 5 serve as mayors, 46 serve as local officials, and four serve as judges.
With the population of Latinx people hovering around 59 million, Victory Institute is proud to celebrate the hard work and dedication of Latinx elected officials who are living their lives openly and authentically.
Representation matters because having diverse voices at key decision-making tables impacts how we see other people and how we think about ourselves. Victory Institute spoke to five LGBTQ-identifying Latinx trailblazers and asked them how their intersecting identities have informed their work as elected officials. Here is how they responded:
Jose Matthews, Board Member, Red Clay Board of Education (Delaware)
“As a young Hispanic school board member, I stand with one of the most underrepresented groups of people in our democracy. In a school district that’s nearly one-third Hispanic, to be the first elected Hispanic Board member means members of my community can finally see themselves in the leadership of their schools. Hispanic Heritage Month gives us a voice and time to acknowledge those fighting for our voices at the table!”
Assembly Member Felix Rivera, Anchorage Municipal Assembly (Alaska)
“I am honored to serve as the first openly-LGBT and Latinx Chair of the Anchorage Assembly. Being able to represent both communities on the Assembly and advocate on behalf of these voices, from ensuring a complete count in the 2020 Census to naming public buildings after people of color in our community, has been a privilege. Representation matters, and in a place as diverse as Anchorage, our elected officials should mirror the plethora of voices in our community.”
Vice President Zach Adamson, Indianapolis City-County Council (Indiana)
“Growing up in a small town in Indiana, as both gay and Latino, I’ve been able to bring insights into conversations that would not otherwise be available. Indiana, even as an elected official in our State Capital City, isn’t known for embracing diverse communities. A seat at the table is essential for inclusion and consideration in policy making that impacts us all.”
Councilmember Stacy Suniga, Greeley City Council (Colorado)
“Being a Hispanic, LGBTQ Councilwoman who is married with grandchildren, has given rise to more acceptance and understanding in my very conservative city. It is liberating to be free about who I am, and to show the community that my personal family dynamics and the love we have for each other is no different than anyone else. I hope that personal and public support for my Hispanic and LGBTQ neighbors, is magnified through the attention of my office.”
Councilmember Luis O. Medina, Lewisburg Borough Council (Pennsylvania)
“Being an openly LGBTQ+ and Latinx Councilmember for the Borough of Lewisburg Pennsylvania has helped bring in more visibility to issues and representation for those who identify as Latinx, LGBTQ+ or both. It has helped in being a primary sponsor and champion for the council to review, discuss and in the near future pass an LGBTQ+ inclusive non-discrimination ordinance.”
Out of 752 LGBTQ elected officials currently serving in the United States, 76 of them identify as Latinx. You can view them all at OutforAmerica.org.