Woods: Our fight isn’t over

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Sasha Kargaltsev from New York, US, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Recently, many LGBTQ candidates have been elected for various government positions.

By Mabrie Woods, The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science

It’s easy when you get caught up in all of the fuss around the election to be discouraged by the fact that many of us voted in a “lesser of two evils” type of way and do not feel like any of the candidates are actually here for us.

So, in light of the presidential election, let’s discuss some of the other candidates elected to office this year and how refreshing it is to see more representation throughout the government as well as how their policies will help to drive the U.S. forward.

Across the country, LGBTQ candidates made “historic firsts across all levels of American government.” In Delaware, Sarah McBride made history as the first transgender woman elected to a state senate in the nation, and, closer to home, Torrey Harris will serve as a state representative in Memphis as one of the two openly LGBTQ state representatives ever elected in Tennessee history.

Georgia also joins the list of states to elect their first ever LGBTQ state senator with Kim Jackson, who also joins the list of only three other black LGBTQ  female state senators in the U.S.

Another huge win is Mauree Turner who makes history as the first nonbinary state legislator in the nation and the first Muslim Oklahoma lawmaker.

This is just a handful of people, but in a time where it seems like every politician is exactly the same, it’s important to lift up and celebrate those around us that are paving the way and making history. Across the nation, people who have felt ostracized their entire life are starting to feel seen and heard as more people like them are elected into office. 

It would be easy to stop and simply leave this at how representation is good if only for representation’s sake, but with these candidates, we don’t need to do that. McBride advocates for affordable healthcare and reform in the criminal justice system while Mauree Turner is running on a platform that supports unity amongst the people and raising minimum wage. They both push for more progressive values, and because of their personal backgrounds as members of the LGBTQ community, they are more aware of the struggles that people can face. They are both actively working to level the playing field and truly give equality to all because they are people who have been discriminated against and judged for things they cannot change and realize how detrimental those divides can be.

We are watching in real time as our democracy finally starts to become as diverse as the United States itself. It’s refreshing and eye opening, and I hope that every queer person paying attention right now feels like they have a chance to be something great because it’s been too long since we have.

We’ve come a long way since Harvey Milk was elected in California, but we owe where we are now to him and many others for putting their lives on the line so that future generations of LGBTQ people could sit behind the same desks without fear.

I want to make it clear, though: do not think that every problem the queer community faces will go away overnight because of these candidates. They are each only one person, and we can not expect them to single handedly change everything we do not like. This past week, the Supreme Court started hearing about a case that would allow for private, tax funded services to discriminate against people on the basis of their sexuality. This specific case has to do with adoption agencies, but the implications of what it could mean if won are so much bigger. 

We are also finding ourselves coming face to face with a Supreme Court with Justices who are vocally against the decision made in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that decided same-sex marriage was legal across the United States in 2015.

All of this said, we cannot stop being activists because we feel like it is no longer our job. We must hold ourselves accountable and try to fix things on every level because laws can only reach so far. For now, though, we celebrate the people who are doing what has never been done before, and work towards and even brighter future. 

This story was originally published on The Vision MSMS on November 13, 2020.