Representation is vital to ensuring that all voices have a place in the decisions of our country, and while we still have a way to go in fully representing our population, tremendous strides are being made—particularly for Black LGBTQ+ politicians.
In a study done by the Victory Institute, the organization tallied up the number of Black and LGBTQ+ representatives in every kind of office—from mayors of small cities to U.S. Congress members. These numbers were then compared to the previously recorded data for these populations gathered in 2018. In the last five years, research showed that LGBTQ+ representation, regardless of race, increased by 108%, going from 559 elected officials to 1,160 across the country. For Black LGBTQ+ identifying politicians, these numbers saw an even larger increase of 317% in the span of five years.
This data is especially significant as Black LGBTQ+ people have rarely ever seen themselves represented in public offices. Annise Parker, president of the Victory Institute, stated on the data: “Black LGBTQ Americans have never had equitable representation in government—with the wounds to show for it. Despite bearing the brunt of recent increases in homophobia, transphobia and racism, Black LGBTQ leaders continue to run for office and serve in record numbers.”
Of the data collected, the Victory Institute saw some of the highest numbers in women elected to office who identified as Black and LGBTQ. For context, women of all races who identified as LGBTQ+ made up 219 of all elected officials in 2018. In 2023, this number jumped to 415, resulting in an 89% increase. For Black women who identified as LGBTQ+ these numbers went from 16 to 57, which may not seem like a significant number, but results in a 256% increase in the last five years.
The data can also be broken down more specifically by elected office. Increases for Black LGBTQ+ populations were seen in every office across the country except for governors’ offices, which remained at 0%. The percentages were as followed:
- S. Congress: 100% increase, 1 total elected official in 2023
- Statewide offices: 100% increase, 1 total elected official in 2023
- Mayoral: 200% increase, 6 total elected officials in 2023
- State Legislative: 388% increase, 39 total elected officials in 2023
- Local: 353% increase, 68 total elected officials in 2023
- Judicial: 100% increase, 10 total elected officials in 2023
In total, there are 1,160 LGBTQ+ individuals currently holding a political office in some capacity in the United States. The 317% increase of Black LGBTQ+ individuals went from 30 representatives in 2018 to 125 in 2023.
“These leaders are not just disrupting the status quo by fighting for real, generational change, they are inspiring more leaders to either come out publicly or answer the call to public service themselves,” Parker continued in her statement. “While we have a long way to go, the past five years prove that the momentum of history is on our side. We as a community must come together and answer this rallying cry by recruiting and training more Black LGBTQ+ leaders ready to serve in public office.”
Sources: The Victory Institute, The Hill