I didn’t set out to make history. When I first ran for office in 1974 as an openly lesbian candidate, I ran to promote the social justice policies of the Human Rights Party, which included pro-feminist and pro-LGBTQ stances in addition to an unwavering commitment to economic and racial justice. I ran in a Michigan college town, in a college ward, where being a lesbian wasn’t entirely disqualifying.
To my great delight I won, becoming the first openly LGBTQ person ever elected in the United States. I was extremely proud of the fact (and still am today) that my historic candidacy came from a radical third party that was actively working for justice for all.
Today is the anniversary of my election. 41 years ago, I won my race for the Ann Arbor City Council. In honor of that consequential moment, Victory Institute dubbed today National Out to Win Day, dedicated to urging more LGBTQ people to run for public office and achieve equitable representation at all levels of government.
Since my election, our movement has made so much progress and more historic firsts have been checked. But while we’ve made giant strides, there’s still so much further to go. We need elected officials who will fight against bigots as they attempt to rollback marriage equality and strip the trans community of their dignity. Legislators will fight to further social justice and stand as allies to other marginalized communities.
We need you to run for office and be the next historic first. Today, on the anniversary on my historic election, will you take the pledge to run for office? Victory Institute will then send you videos from LGBTQ elected officials and information about how to take the first step.
We’ve seen that we cannot be complacent, that we need even more LGBTQ candidates to run. LGBTQ candidates from all walks of life, with diverse backgrounds, with diverse perspectives. We need more LGBTQ candidates of color, more trans candidates, more womxn candidates, more LGBTQ immigrant candidates, more intersex candidates, more LGBTQ candidates with bold ideas who will keep pushing our movement forward.
In short, Victory, we need you. Will you make the decision to be the next historic first? Will you make the decision, as I did, to run for public office?
I hope you do – and I hope you win. And in these uncertain times, please stay safe, stay well!
Thanks again for taking the pledge.
Kathy Kozachenko made history as the first openly gay candidate to win public office in the United States when she won a city council seat in Ann Arbor, Michigan on April 2, 1974. LGBTQ Victory Institute celebrates Kathy’s legacy annually by encouraging LGBTQ people to run for office on National Out to Win Day.