Midterm turnout is historically dismal, with most Americans more concerned with who sits in the White House rather than who walks the halls of Congress. But voters who are waiting until 2024 to cast a vote, should consider supporting a new wave of LGBTQ candidates fighting for their lives this election season. 

More than 100 openly LGBTQ candidates have run or are running for a congressional seat this November. This marks a 16% increase from 2020 and a dramatic shift in the potential for a more diverse 118th Congress. The LGBTQ community, allies, and advocates should feel empowered now more than ever according to The Victory Fund’s President and CEO, Annise Parker. 

“For those voters who are staying home this season because of hopelessness, because of one candidate, or because of one issue, I have a simple ask: suck it up. This election our lives are on the ballot, our rights are on the ballot, and our future is on the ballot,” said Parker. 

The Victory Fund is an organization dedicated to increasing the number of openly LGBTQ elected officials at all levels of government, a mission that Parker knows intimately. In 2009, she was elected as the first openly LGBTQ person to serve as mayor of a major American city, serving the city of Houston for several years. 

The ask is simple: elected representation that reflects the identity of the American people. According to the Victory Fund, we are 35,854 LGBTQ public servants short of this benchmark. Change begins this midterm season and the voting power of the LGBTQ community, and our allies, is growing with every ballot. 

This election season, 11% of the eligible voting population identifies as openly LGBTQ, a demographic with enough weight to sway a congressional race in most states. This voter bloc continues to grow with estimates that by 2040 almost one-fifth of eligible voters will identify as LGBTQ. 

This voting bloc is not only growing rapidly but is also a consistent and dependable voice at the polls. In 2020, 93% of registered LGBTQ voters cast a ballot. Queer communities are a force in our electoral system, and collectively have the power to be instrumental agents of change in races across the country. 

This could be a dramatic season of change, and voting is just the first step to being engaged in electing a new diverse brand of leadership according to Parker. 

“No candidate has ever been elected because of a majority of LGBTQ voters, it is essential to mobilize your circles in your locality and in campaigns across the country that are important to you … You can phone bank from your house and it will make an impact, you can give $10 to a school board candidate and it will make an impression,” stated Parker. 

Activism does not begin and end at the polls, it is a consistent dedication to candidates that will defend your rights and freedoms. This is not just another midterm season, this is an opportunity to pull a seat up to the table, a seat that has been missing for generations. Amid waves of anti-LGBTQ legislation and attacks on our most vulnerable populations, there has never been a more urgent time to race to the polls.

Nick Fulton is a Washington-based press professional who specializes in political advocacy communications strategy. He currently serves as Communications Lead at the Global Women’s Institute.

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