In 1991, Victory Fund endorsed its very first candidate, a dynamic African-American lesbian named Sherry Harris in Seattle, Washington. After a grueling race, Harris made history when she became the first openly black lesbian elected to office in the U.S.
Ever since, black LGBTQ candidates and elected officials have had to overcome staggering odds to win in communities, large and small, across the country. As it stands, there are 40 accomplished black LGBTQ elected officials fighting for health care reform, education equity, a fairer economy, a better criminal justice system, and full equality for LGBTQ Americans – among so many other important issues.
As Black History Month comes to a close, the Victory Institute team would like to shine a light on these 40 black LGBTQ elected officials who are committed to uplifting people on the margins and moving their communities forward.
What does being black and out mean to you?
Nevada State Senator Patricia Spearman
- “As Black History month comes to an end, we must remember that the celebration of black lives, culture, and tradition continues. Onward as we continue to make our marks on history! Black history is an inextricable part of world history!”
Colorado State Representative Leslie Herod
- “I am proud to be Colorado’s first LGBTQ black I am also a Christian. I believe fully that we mustn’t allow faith to be used as a tool to divide us. My religion doesn’t preach hate. I stand with all of the queer kids out there who just want to be loved.”
Illinois State Representative Lamont Robinson
- “It matters because we need someone to be able to ring the alarm on the issues that are facing the LGBT community, particularly the African American community, as we’re talking about making sure we have quality health care in that community; that we have quality education; that we have quality housing; that if you are trans, you can get a job. That you can make sure you can get an apartment and don’t have to be criminalized.”
Charlotte Councilmember LaWana Mayfield
- “I am #365Black. As an out African-American elected official, it is my privilege to speak out against the injustice, bias, homophobia, and racism that black Americans and people of color face daily with this current administration.”
What have they been up to?
- Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson and Nevada Senator Pat Spearman spearheaded a commonsense gun background check bill that was recently signed into law by the Governor. Senator Spearman also introduced a bill that would require all insurers in Nevada to cover hearing aids for children and give low-income parents a voucher to purchase diapers.
- Georgia Representative Renitta Shannon introduced a bill that would ban the use of using public money or property to display confederate monuments unless housed inside museums.
- Georgia Representative Park Cannon introduced a bill to prohibit prospective employers from considering the previous salaries of applicants when setting their wages and benefits.
- Colorado State Representative Leslie Herod delivered an impassioned speech on the Colorado House floor as legislators approved a bill to create an LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education curriculum. She also introduced a bill to “ban the box”.
- Durham City Councilmember Vernetta Alston, a former Victory Empowerment Fellow, was re-invited to give a speech at her high school alma matter for a Black History Month event after initially being uninvited due to her sexuality.
All Black LGBTQ Elected Officials in the U.S. (currently in office)
- Lawrence Robinson, Roosevelt Elementary School District
- Councilmember Tyller Williamson, Monterey City Council
- Alex Randolph, City College of San Francisco Board President
- Shay Franco-Clausen, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority
- Representative Leslie Herod, Colorado House of Representatives
- Representative Shevrin Jones, Florida House of Representatives
- Councilmember Tonya Davis Johnson, Riviera Beach City Council
- Representative Park Cannon, Georgia House of Representatives
- Representative Renitta Shannon, Georgia House of Representatives
- Councilmember Bruce Teague, Iowa City Council
- Representative Lamont Robinson, Illinois House of Representatives
- Judge Sophia Hall, Cook County Circuit Court
- Nicole Bolden, Bloomington City Clerk
- Councilmember E. Denise Simmons, Cambridge City Council
- Senator Mary Washington, Maryland State Senate
- Judge Larnzell Martin, Prince George’s County 7th Circuit Court
- Representative Craig Hickman, Maine House of Representatives
- Councilmember Andrea Jenkins, Minneapolis City Council
- Councilmember Phillipe Cunningham, Minneapolis City Council
- Representative Cecil Brockman, North Carolina House of Representatives
- Councilmember Lawana Mayfield, Charlotte City Council
- Councilmember Jillian Johnson, Durham City Council President Pro Tempore
- Councilmember Vernetta Alston, Durham City Council
- Marque Snow, Omaha Board of Education
- Mayor Bruce Harris, Chatham Borough
- Councilmember Thos Shipley, Roselle Park Borough Council
- Rebecca Williams, Union County Freeholder
- Reginald Bledsoe, Newark Public Schools Board of Education
- Senator Kelvin Atkinson, Nevada State Senate & Majority Leader
- Senator Pat Spearman, Nevada State Senate
- Senator Dallas Harris, Nevada State Senate
- Council President Shannon Hardin, Columbus City Council
- Council President Pro Tem Tamaya Dennard, Cincinnati City Council
- Representative Malcolm Kenyatta, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
- Mayor Mark Barbee, Bridgeport
- Judge Rachel Bell, Davidson County General Sessions Court
- Judge Tonya Parker, Dallas County 116th Judicial District
- Judge Shannon Baldwin, Harris County Criminal Court at Law
- Lawrence Webb, Falls Church School Board
U.S. Virgin Islands
- Senate Janelle Sarauw, U.S. Virgin Islands Senate
There are over 600 LGBTQ elected officials currently serving in the United States. You can view them all here: outforamerica.org.