A record number of openly LGBTQ+ politicians won their elections in November 2022 and they’re taking office this January. One can only hope that this record number “rainbow wave” of LGBTQ+ candidates is a promising sign of growing progress.
Despite a tough legislative fight that lies ahead for some cities and states, many queer and ally politicians are already down for the fight. Here are six LGBTQ+ politicians to keep your eye on this year and beyond.
Robert Garcia was the first openly LGBTQ+ mayor of Long Beach, CA before running for national office. He won his 2022 election to become the first LGBTQ+ immigrant ever elected to Congress and was sworn in Jan. 3, adding to the Democrats in the House of Representatives. Inspired by the mother who brought him to this country at the age of five from Peru but who passed from COVID-19 in 2020, he fights for public health and human rights.
Many LGBTQ+ people across the country are excited about Maura Healey’s win in Massachusetts. She’s the first woman governor there and the first LGBTQ+ governor there and one of the two first-ever lesbian governors in the country who won on Election Day 2022 (along with Tina Kotek of Oregon). Healey is far from new to politics (she brings experience from being Massachusetts’ Attorney General), but this is a huge, exciting step up for her—and lesbians nationally. She could definitely end up in national office someday.
Saudia LaMont took office Jan. 4 in the Vermont House of Representatives. A Black, pansexual mom who believes in “respect, equity, and access,” she brings important representation and values to the state-level chamber. Endorsed by Planned Parenthood, hopefully she’ll be making the Lamoille-Washington District proud for years to come.
Jared Polis may not be completely new to state-level politics, but this election made him one to watch out for. He won his reelection as governor of Colorado by an impressive margin of 59% to 39% against his Republican challenger, which means he is certainly here to stay after becoming the first openly gay governor in any U.S. state in 2018. There’s no doubt this 47-year-old has a long political future to come.
Joe Vogel doesn’t just represent Maryland’s 17th District in the Maryland House of Delegates as of Jan. 11—he reflects the demographics of the United States as a gay Gen Z Latino immigrant. He has past experience volunteering and working on the presidential campaigns of Joe Biden, Corey Booker, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, so a national career may not be out of this newcomer’s sights.
Zooey Zephyr took office in the Montana House of Representatives Jan. 2. She became one of two of the first openly transgender people to be elected to the state Legislature in Montana on that day, along with Leigh Finke. She’s got progressive values, an organizer’s heart and is dedicated to hitting the ground running. With her passion, this 34-year-old has a bright political career ahead of her.
Eboné F. Bell is the founder and publisher of Tagg Magazine.