On April 14, 2019, Democrat Pete Buttigieg made history when he announced his 2020 bid for president of the United States—and then kissed his husband. The public is accustomed to seeing political hopefuls kiss their spouses, just not when those spouses are both men. The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., is the first openly gay man to run for the nation's highest public office.
In 2018, voters elected more than 150 LGBTQ+ candidates after the midterm elections, adding to the nearly 600 already in office in the country. While there are more LGBTQ+ people in politics, transgender men are the least represented. Trans men only made up about 10% of transgender candidates or those elected from 1977–2015, according to a report from the LGBTQ Representation and Rights Research Initiative at the University of North Carolina. Out of 36 who ran in 2018, only six were trans men, including Tyler Titus, a member of the Erie School Board, and Phillipe Cunningham, part of the Minneapolis City Council.
More than four decades before the political “rainbow wave,” LGBTQ+ pioneers like Harvey Milk faced discrimination, harassment, and hate. In 1977, Milk famously became the first openly gay man elected to a public office. He was assassinated only a year later. In the five years after Milk's death, Gilbert Baker created the rainbow flag, an enduring symbol for the LGBTQ+ community; 75,000 people gathered in the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights; the Democratic Party officially spoke up for LGBTQ+ rights, and Wisconsin became the first state to make it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation.
To spotlight LGBTQ+ politicians, Stacker consulted news reports, Congress, and the Victory Fund and Victory Institute, two national organizations dedicated to increasing the number of openly LGBTQ+ people elected to public office. Click through to find out more about Harvey Milk, Mayor Pete, and 32 other LGBTQ+ politicians who broke barriers.
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