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We’re getting our first openly gay Black congressmen — two of them.

Two openly gay Black men are poised to win Congressional races that nobody predicted this time last year.

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There were a few elections last night (and they were a mess, Democracy is broken, the country is on fire, I hate it here, etc.) and right here in my backyard, we should see another “first” once all the votes are counted and the numbers are official.

Mondaire Jones was a lock almost from the jump.

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New York’s 17th Congressional District is just north of NYC, covering parts of Westchester and Rockland Counties. The Democratic Primary is a race between six people vying for the seat being left vacant by 89-year-old Nita Lowey who is retiring after 30 years of holding that seat (through various incarnations of the district). Whoever wins the primary will be elected, and Jones picked up a slew of high profile endorsements early on: Bernie Sanders, AOC, Elizabeth Warren, and Julian Castro among them. Being openly gay & Black representing a suburban area had some pollsters hesitant to make a prediction (NYC suburbs can be surprisingly “old-fashioned”) but his platform alongside his prominent supporters proved to be a winning combination.

Progressive Mondaire Jones picked up more than double the votes of any of the other six candidates running in the Democratic Party primary to replace longtime Rep. Nita Lowey.

There are still thousands of mail ballots that won’t be counted for a week, but Jones’ commanding early lead has him breathing a little easier as he waits for the mail ballots to be opened.

“It was never about self promotion,” Jones told The Journal News/lohud in a phone interview. “It is instead about an idea, an idea that government has never worked for everyone.”

(cont. Rockland/Westchester Journal News)

Ritchie Torres isn’t quite the sure thing Mondaire Jones is at this point, but his victory would be much sweeter, given the opposition.

ritchie2

Come November, Rubén Díaz Sr., a Pentecostal minister with a long history of homophobia and transphobia, could be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the most Democratic district in the nation — but gay candidate Ritchie Torres is out to see that doesn’t happen.

Díaz is well known in New York politics; he was a state senator for years, and he’s now a member of the New York City Council. In the Senate, he voted against marriage equality, and he has said the City Council “is controlled by the homosexual community.” He considers abortion murder, and he praises Donald Trump. Yet he’s running as a Democrat, as he has for years, although he’s the epitome of a Democrat in name only.

(cont. Advocate)

Rubén Díaz Junior is a pretty decent (and popular) politician. He’s been elected borough president of The Bronx three times and his positions are in line with most mainstream Democrats, including his stance on LGBT equality. His father is an evangelical Christian who hates gays and callously uses the Holocaust in his arguments against abortion. For some reason, the ballots don’t say Rubén Díaz Senior to make sure voters differentiate him from his son, who has higher approval ratings and more name recognition. Two men in politics from same the borough with the same name should definitely have their entire name printed on the ballot to make it easier for voters, but that’s not the case, and RD Senior was polling ahead of Ritchie Torres until last night.

Torres pulled ahead early, with 30% of the vote in a crowded field with 11 other candidates.

So that’s what we woke up to here in the NYC area. Two openly gay Black men are poised to win Congressional races that nobody predicted this time last year. It’s 2020 and we’re still having “firsts” in politics, but slow progress is better than none at all.

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LGBT

Watch: Kids Ask About Gender

“Do you like being called a boy or a girl?”

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Courtney Act is a gift to this world. She’s so good at talking to anyone, and everyone looking to be a queer ambassador should be following her lead. She’s not trying to be Oprah and pull out your deepest trauma. She’s not trying to be Dr. Phil to coach you into realizations with psychobabble. She never comes from a place of preaching, just existing and being authentic.

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Athletes

Carl Nassib is the NFL’s first active gay player.

Another pride month win for representation!

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Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib came out of the closet earlier today and his statement almost brought me to tears.

Nothing he said was particularly emotional, but it just took me back to junior high school, having rocks thrown at me, getting into fights on the bus, hearing faggot every day, and seeing no way past the torture of being bullied by jocks who thought it was fun to beat up on the gay kid.

It was just cool to beat up on the gay kid. Whether you were actually homophobic or not didn’t matter — you bullied the gay kid because other guys bullied the gay kid and that’s just how it was. It’s not as cool as it once was. Homophobia still exists, but outright support also exists in a way I didn’t experience, and sometimes that counterbalance is all you need for a homophobe to seethe quietly since he doesn’t have enough peers to feed into the bullying.

I’m trying to picture how I would have felt in junior high if an NFL player came out and his commissioner, coach, and teammates were all behind him. I probably would’ve been bullied anyway, to some extent at least, but I definitely would’ve believed it actually does get better, because I didn’t at the time. Saying “it gets better” doesn’t mean anything to a kid who wants to die because he’s the only gay person he knows, he dreads facing his peers because he doesn’t know if someone will light his homework on fire or hit him with a flagpole, and the only gay people on TV are fictional comic relief. Seeing a gay man in the center of a hypermasculine, heterosexual, aggressive environment means much more. It means not everyone is out to get you and you won’t be tortured forever, because if he can find support in the NFL, you can find support somewhere too.

 

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LGBT

Casey Frey has a boyfriend.

Watch his coming out video on Theo Von’s podcast. The kids are so blessed!

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I know who Casey Frey is, because I’m online all the time, but I don’t really know who Casey Frey is. I just have a passing recognition of him and I can pick him out of a lineup because every once in awhile, one of his “dancing” videos goes viral.

Back in the days of Vine, Casey amassed a huge following from his awkward dance clips that were oddly charming in that Gen Z way of being earnest and silly at the same time. Now he’s a bonafide Instagram comedian, but I don’t follow him, because I’m pretty dry and subdued, and I don’t think very many people are funny enough to watch over and over (or at all!).

The kids who do follow him had that young man trending for a couple of days in a row because he has a boyfriend now.

I had never put much thought into who Casey Frey sleeps with. I just assumed he was straight because, if he was queer, he would’ve popped up on my social media feeds more often from being shared by the gays in my social networks. The few times I saw his sexuality discussed, it was usually a gay man either alluding to Casey’s queerness or making a light-hearted joke about it and they would immediately be corrected by his fans. So, Casey coming out with a boyfriend made a  big ripple on social media.

I really don’t care. I don’t even know anything about him past what I just Googled.

What I do care about is his coming out video with Theo Von, who some of you Gen X and Millennials may remember from Road Rules.

Not gonna even front: I had a huge crush on Theo growing up. He was a Southern good ol’ boy (my weakness at the time) who was genuinely nice, wasn’t a bigot, and read books. And he had nice arms. I’ve lo-key followed his career as a comedian and I still think he’s genuinely charming but don’t tell anybody I said that because we do not praise straight white men in this household!

Casey went on Theo’s podcast and I want y’all to watch how casually he comes out as bisexual and how everyone reacts to it.

No one cares. Look at that! No one cares!

When I saw that clip yesterday, I surprised myself by how emotional I got. I just remember growing up in the South with Theo’s accent all around me calling me a faggot on a regular basis. Straight guys tortured me for years. I saw a couple of gays on the Real World, Queer as Folk, and Will & Grace, but that was about it for my exposure to queerness in the big bad world. No part of my brain would’ve thought that twenty years later, a male comedian presumed to be straight would be on another straight male comedian’s radio show and casually say he has a boyfriend.

I’m so happy the little gay boys in conservative pockets of the country facing taunts and bullying have clips like this. It doesn’t necessarily affect what’s happening to you in that moment day to day, but it’s gotta be so nice to see that there is a wider world where everyone doesn’t hate you.

As Theo says in the clip, “That’s awesome.”

 

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