LGBTQ Elected Officials Are Changing the World

A national day to encourage LGBTQ leaders to run for office.

Danica Roem Wins

This can be you. Danica Roem was a transgender journalist and heavy metal band singer with no experience running for office. Not your typical candidate profile. But her state representative was one of the most anti-LGBTQ state legislators in the nation and had been in office for 25 years. He had to go — so she ran, and she won.

American needs more LGBTQ leaders like Virginia Delegate Danica Roem to step up and run for office. This National Out to Win Day, we ask: How about you? 

Below, LGBTQ elected officials will share what inspired them to run, why it is so important and how you can do it too. And if they convince you, we’ll share first steps to get started. Our community needs you. 

Where We Are

More LGBTQ people are running and winning elected office than ever before, but the reality is we are still way behind where we should be. LGBTQ people represent 5.6% of the U.S. population, but we still hold just 0.19% of elected positions. We need a moonshot effort to catch up, which means we need you!

known openly LGBTQ elected officials in the U.S.

of elected officials are LGBTQ

more LGBTQ people must be elected to achieve equitable representation*

* There are 519,682 U.S. elected positions, according to Becoming a Candidate, Jennifer L. Lawless, and LGBTQ are 5.6 percent of the U.S. population, according to Gallup.

YOU Should Run

It Needs to Be You

Watch our live National Out To Win Day Panel!

Hear a special message from U.S. Congressman Ritchie Torres and join a panel with Arizona state Representative Daniel Hernandez, Washington County (AR) Justice of the Peace Evelyn Rios Stafford, and DC ANC Commissioner Rehana Mohammed as they discuss running as an out candidate and the value of out voices in government.

Too many LGBTQ people don’t see themselves as leaders in elected office, but they are wrong. LGBTQ people are winning in conservative towns and liberal states. More LGBTQ people of color, bisexual, transgender and non-binary people are winning than ever before. America is ready to elect LGBTQ leaders, but we need more to step up and run.

The point is: if not you, who?

U.S Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney

Arizona Rep. Andrés Cano

Palm Springs City Councilmember
Lisa Middleton

“I’m proud to be the first openly bisexual person elected to the California State Assembly. I hope that more young people recognize that they can do it too. There’s a lot of bi-erasure and invisibility, even within our very progressive state, but we have to be true to ourselves. If not, we’re not making laws that are completely aligned that improve our lives.”

California Assemblymember Alex Lee
First out bi member of the assembly

You Can Change Lives

Having an LGBTQ voice in the room is invaluable and our out elected officials prove it everyday. LGBTQ elected officials are the driving force behind pro-equality legislation in so many chambers and are the ones who lead the fight to defeat anti-LGBTQ bills. Yet the impact goes well beyond LGBTQ equality issues alone. LGBTQ elected officials are leading on police reform, climate change, healthcare policy and so much more.

You can help transform your school district, your city, your state and your country.

California Sen. Pro Tem. Toni Atkins

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia

Maine House Speaker Ryan Fecteau

“As a queer identified, Black woman of Trans experience, I know that when I am in the room the conversation changes. So, as an elected official not only do the conversations change, the policies change as well. In my role I am able to educate my colleagues and the broader community on how harmful these legislative attacks are for trans youth. I’m able to propose and pass a ban on conversion therapy, to vote to support Operation Fast Track that promotes PREP to help end AIDS. These are the types of issues you can impact as an elected official. If you care about your community, and want to see equity and justice for all people, then becoming an elected official is the job for you. Remember, when we run, we win.”

Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins
First out trans woman elected to a major city council

You Are Qualified

You don’t need a law degree or political experience to run for office — and neither of those make you more qualified. LGBTQ elected officials come from diverse work backgrounds and that experience makes them better leaders. LGBTQ elected officials have been teachers, activists, grocery store workers and event planners.

If you are passionate about making lives better for people in your community, you are qualified.

U.S Sen. Tammy Baldwin

Georgia Sen. Kim Jackson

DC State Board of Education Member
Allister Chang

Jess Benham

“When I stepped up to run for state representative, I knew I would bring the work ethic, expertise, and passion necessary to address the critical problems my community faces: lack of access to economic opportunity and to healthcare, failing infrastructure, and gun violence.”

Pennsylvania state Rep. Jess Benham
First out LGBTQ woman elected to the PA state legislature

You Can Do It

We won’t lie: Running as an out LGBTQ candidate is not always easy. We face the rigors all candidates face: choosing a seat to run for, learning how to fundraise and knocking on lots (and we mean lots) of doors. But we also face challenges many candidates do not, unfortunately including anti-LGBTQ campaign tactics. Yet nothing you will face is something another LGBTQ candidate hasn’t faced, and we as a community and training organization will help you on the way.

Others have done it and so can you!

Florida Sen. Shevrin Jones

Colorado Rep. Brianna Titone

Oklahoma Rep. Mauree Turner

Adrian Tam

“During my election campaign, discriminatory speech – especially online – was directed at me as a result of my sexual orientation. However, my friends, family, and the community kept me feeling positive and motivated on the campaign trail. Their constant support continues to remind me of who I ran for – the vibrant, diverse, and forward-thinking people of House District 22 and Hawaii. Ultimately, Aloha prevailed over hate, and I crushed my opponent in the race, a member of the Proud Boys who shamefully took part in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. If you’re planning to run for office, remember that, at some point, you will likely encounter some kind of criticism or hate, but don’t allow the negativity to drag you down. Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing and who and what you’re fighting for. Most importantly, ensure that everything you do is done with Aloha.

Hawaii Rep. Adrian Tam
Only out LGBTQ state legislator in Hawaii

Your First Training

If our LGBTQ elected officials have you convinced we need more LGBTQ people in office — and that it can be you! — then find yourself a quiet space and watch our first training. Victory Institute staff, campaign training experts and out elected officials will help you think through the first steps. How do you know it is the right time to run? How do you pick the position? How do you start raising money without having rich parents or friends? We’ll help you think through the answers.

I’m Ready to Run

Thank you. Our community desperately needs more LGBTQ people like you to run for office and fight for equality in the halls of power. As we said earlier: if not you, who?

There are many resources to help people running for office, including Victory Institute and our out LGBTQ elected leaders. Below are some action items you can take right now:

Tell us about yourself and that you want to run! We’ll let you know about upcoming trainings and other opportunities.

Learn about and register for our three-day intensive Candidate & Campaign Trainings, held virtually for now and in-person soon!

Outreach to LGBTQ elected officials in your state is a great way to get advice and start a run, so see who is serving near you.

Spread the Word

Help encourage LGBTQ people to run on social media!

America needs more LGBTQ people to run for office, but that won’t happen without your help. Take two minutes to help spread the word about National Out to Win Day and encourage LGBTQ people you know to run!

About The Day

Kathy Kozachenko

On April 2, 1974, Kathy Kozachenko won a seat on the Ann Arbor, Michigan City Council, becoming the first out LGBTQ person elected to public office in the United States. Each April 2, LGBTQ Victory Institute celebrates National Out to Win Day to honor her legacy and encourage more LGBTQ people to run for office in her footsteps.

If you are an LGBTQ person who wants to serve your community and advance LGBTQ equality, we urge you to run for office. If you know an LGBTQ person who should run for office, we ask you give them a nudge. Sometimes that is all it takes.