This year, over 400 LGBTQ candidates are running for office in the United States. Hundreds more are running around the world—and are being elected. Al Jazeera’s program, The Stream hosted by Femi Oke and Malika Bilal, recently covered how LGBTQ politicians are breaking the glass ceiling around the globe. They interviewed officials like Victory-endorsed official Rep. Leslie Herod, Venezuelan National Assembly Member Tamara Adrian, and Victory Fund President and CEO, former Houston Mayor Annise Parker.
The Stream set the tone for their program with a statement from Peter Tatchell, a British human rights and LGBTQ advocate. He said that “it’s really important to have out and visible LGBTQ public figures…affirmative images of LGBTQ people for those teens who are struggling with their sexuality or gender identity.”
Tamara Adrian stated that LGBTQ officials are “creating hope for those who have been excluded and do not foresee any future. When they see you as an example, you give hope and you give awareness to this very difficult path.” Tamara is the first openly transgender person elected to office in Venezuela. She was elected to the Venezuelan National Assembly in 2015. On what it was like campaigning as a transgender candidate, she says that “when you are totally out, you fight not only for LGBT rights but you have the task and the duty to fight for everyone’s rights—women’s rights, minority rights in general.”
“We’ve come a long way in this country, in the US, when it comes to the acceptance of LGBT African Americans or LGBT people in elected office as well as well as policies that support and protect LGBT from violence and discrimination…I’m very concerned that our country will take a step back,” said Leslie Herod, going on to discuss how she fears that if the United States takes a step back on LGBTQ rights, then the rest of the world might as well. There is a growing movement at the state-level to fight back against discrimination—citing herself and officials like State Representative Brian Sims of Philadelphia.
The Stream also features tweets from out officials, including Brian Sims. His tweet discusses how it’s difficult for him to represent the entirety of the LGBTQ community as the only out person in his legislature. Rep. Herod agrees, stating that it’s why we have to elect even more LGBTQ officials. She hopes that goal will be achieved this November.
“We believe that it is important to have out elected officials at all levels of government advocating for our community,” said Annise Parker in her statement. “They shape the dialogue around the needs of the LGBTQ community. We have great allies, but we need to speak for ourselves because we are also role models for the next generation of leaders that comes behind us.”