“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” – Abraham Lincoln.
Last April, a politician from Wyoming made a statement about one of his constituents while addressing a high school assembly. When asked about what he would do to protect the LGBT community of Wyoming, the Senator replied, “I know a guy who wears a tutu and goes to bars on Friday night and is always surprised that he gets into fights. Well, he kind of asked for it.”
Needless to say, such a blatant homophobic statement did not go over well with the local residents. In defiance, they slipped on their own tutus and went about their Friday evening, visiting their favorite stores, restaurants and bars. The statement united the citizens to stand up for the LGBT community. Later that night, they shared their pictures and stories on social media under the hashtag #LiveAndLetTutu.
In 1844, author Alexandre Dumas penned the classic novel “The Three Musketeers” and its very familiar central theme: “All for one and one for all. United, we stand. Divided, we fall.” That statement is alive and well today as we enter the midterm election season with a record number of LGBT candidates – estimates say there are more than 400 — who are standing up for their communities, their ideals and their beliefs. More than half are running for local community positions. The candidates are not one dimensional and are standing up to issues such as the environment, immigration, spending and taxes.
They are also facing a hostile landscape where there are 120 “anti-LGBT” bills in 30 states that could erode individual rights to adoption, marriage and identity, and focus on where people can go to the bathroom and self-identifying rights in general. In 13 states, mostly in the Midwest and South, there are currently no gay or transgendered persons serving in the legislature to bring an alternative viewpoint.
Things are changing, however. There are more than 500 LGBT elected officials in the United States today. This includes one governor and seven congressional members, which adds up to 0.1 of one percent of all elected officials in the country. Globally, the numbers are greater, but the percentages are about the same. Currently, there are three world leaders who are openly LGBT. Those numbers are growing. In 2017, eight openly transgendered people won races from Georgia to Pennsylvania. For example, Danica Roem is the first openly transgender person to be elected to Virginia’s House of Delegates. She and others are truly the inspirations that will hopefully carry many more candidates to victory this year.
“For trans youth across the country, Danica Roem’s election isn’t just a headline or history,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) National Press Secretary Sarah McBride in an interview with the New York Times. “It’s hope for a better tomorrow.”
These delegates not only represent regional voters but also the 1.4 million transgender Americans across the country. So, on Election Day this November, slip on a tutu. Be sure that everyone knows that we are active and awake. Know the issues. Make your vote count. Elect those who know what we have been through to get here. Support your local LGBT candidates and let your voice be heard.