It seems like every election we say, “the stakes have never been higher” for the LGBTQ+ community and it is true every time. It’s exhausting and LGBTQ+ voters, especially in blue states, may not feel motivated to turn out in a midterm election while President Biden safely holds the White House and there is no threat of a President Trump like in the past. But there is a much broader, important view to take.
Local elections, not just federal or even statewide ones, matter immensely for LGBTQ+ representation. Currently, 0.2% of elected officials openly identify as LGBTQ+ though 7.1% of the U.S. population identifies as LGBTQ+. According to the LGBTQ+ political organization The Victory Fund, we would need to elect 35,854 more LGBTQ+ public servants on top of the 1,043 currently serving to achieve fair representation in government.
The path toward this isn’t through Congress or governorships or state legislatures. There simply aren’t 35,854 seats available there. We achieve parity by winning seats on city councils and school boards and becoming mayors and county clerks.
To do this, LGBTQ+ people must vote even when the presidency and congressional seats are safely not going to turn over in their area. They need to research and turn out for those candidates down ballot. The Victory Fund has endorsed over 200 local-level candidates across the U.S. who are out as LGBTQ+ and need support—and votes—as they navigate transphobia and queerphobia in their districts as they run for office.
They’re running for offices like West Basin Municipal Water District Board in California, Howard County Register of Wills in Maryland, and Dallas County Justice of the Peace in Texas. You may not have thought to look up who was running for those offices on your ballot, but it’s important to ensure we are working toward equal representation.
While 7.1% of the overall population may identify as LGBTQ+ now, each generation has a higher and higher percentage coming out, with a sky high 27% of Gen Z self-identifying as LGBTQ+. According to a new report from the Human Rights Campaign, “LGBTQ+ Americans are projected to become one of the fastest growing voting blocs in the country, growing at a scale, scope, and speed that will see LGBTQ+ voters wield significantly increased influence over electoral outcomes – fundamentally shifting the electoral landscape at the local, state, and federal levels.” Their new research done in conjunction with Bowling Green State University predicts that by 2030 approximately one in seven voters will be LGBTQ+. In this midterm election Nov. 8, we will be one in 10 voters—as long as we show up.
So show up no matter how blue or safe or quiet your district or state seems to be because your town could help us get one more elected official toward national parity of LGBTQ+ electoral representation. We need your vote because the LGBTQ+ voting bloc has power—and we need to show that in this election.
Eboné F. Bell is the founder and publisher of Tagg Magazine, a print publication and website for everything lesbian, queer, and under the rainbow.