State Rep. Shevrin Jones Is Living His Truth As Florida's First Openly Gay Black Lawmaker

Shevrin Jones is at the top of his game within the political world.

He is a state representative within the U.S. state of Florida, he’s won that position three consecutive times, he is highly respected by his peers, and he’s even been whispered as a potential lieutenant governor pick if politician Gwen Graham wins the Democratic nomination next week.

But Jones has just decided to add to that list by becoming the first openly Gay Black lawmaker in the state of Florida.

Jones says he’s always known that he was gay since he was in Kindergarten, but, as he told the Miami Herald, he lost his older brother last year. That loss has led to a new perspective on life.

“My brother died at the age of 34. I was like, that could have been me. I could drop dead living behind the scenes of something that could have helped someone else,” he told the Miami Herald. “I started living my truth just a little bit more.”

So how did Jones come out? It was by having his name place among Equality Florida’s list of endorsements of openly gay candidates.

“I said I don’t know if that’s the way I want to have a coming-out party,” Jones said. “Then I was like, ‘You know what, go ahead. It’s fine.’”

This change didn’t happen over night, however. While his brother’s death led him to the mindset of coming out, he had already began coming out to his family.

Not only did his beloved brother know about his sexuality before he passed, but so too did his parents and now ex-wife.

“I got married and my ex-wife — I love her. She’s amazing. She even lives in my district — she and I were friends for 10 years at school. When I married her I loved her then. But I loved her too much to continue to lie to her and lie to my family. I have to be honest.”

Jones later separated from his wife in 2012 before officially getting divorced in 2015. He now lives in Hollywood, Florida with a male partner.

It’s been a struggle to not only be openly gay but to accept his sexuality in the first place. Now, Jones hopes to lead by example for his constitutes (whether they’re gay or otherwise).

h/t: The Miami Herald

What's The Big Deal About Lesbian Sheriff-Turned-Governor-Nominee Lupe Valdez's Missing Gun?

Lupe Valdez has already made history. In 2005, Valdez made headlines as she ran for Dallas County Sheriff as an openly gay Latina democrat… and won.

Since then, Valdez has been remembered for being a living landmark when it comes to LGBTQ advocacy and activity in politics and community services. That has skyrocketed her towards an attempt at Texas governor, but one mistake during her exit from the sheriff’s office may now be her undoing.

The problem is that Valdez has been running on a tight gun control campaign. She even wrote for the Houston Chronicle that, “Many of the ideas like increased mental health counseling and enhanced security are essential."

Now according to the Washington Post, her own gun has gone missing.

Back on December 31 of last year, Valez left her job as sheriff. When doing so, she had to return a state owned Beretta 9mm that she had borrowed from the range masters. Unfortunately, they have now reported that the gun is missing and has been classified as lost or stolen.

“Once I was notified that my weapon was not accounted for, I did my due diligence to locate the weapon. To my knowledge, my weapon was misplaced during the transition,” Valdez said to the Dallas Morning News.

“As a leader, I take responsibility for any error that happened during my transition regarding my weapon,” Valdez added. “I take gun ownership seriously and I have cooperated with the department.”

What makes this worse is that Valdez earlier presented the idea that people should be held accountable for the misplacement and reckless security of their guns.

That said, it hasn’t been announced if Valdez will need to pay for the missing gun (which costs about $649.99).

Of course, her political opponent has used this for an opportunity to attack.

Incumbent Governor Greg Abbott (R) wrote on Twitter, “Lupe Valdez wants to run the state of Texas but can’t even keep track of her gun? Texans deserve better.”

Not one to blink, Valdez says she will continue to fight for gun reform despite these recent events.

“I promise this: I will not stop talking about common sense gun reform and will not be strong armed by my opponent to silence the debate on gun violence and responsible ownership,” she said.

But, news coverage has had a field day with this situation (as seen above). This is certainly a bad lok for her campaign.

Will this event cause an irreversible hitch in Valdez’s path towards the governor's seat? We’ll find out in November.

h/t: The Washington Post, Dallas Morning News, The Houston Chronicle

Gay Afro-Latino Gabriel Acevero Won The Primary for A Maryland House of Delegates Seat

A gay Afro-Latino man won the primary on his journey to becoming a Maryland delegate.

The results of the primary for the Maryland House of Delegates happened this past Tuesday (June 26), and Gabriel Acevero came out victorious.

Acevero is an openly gay Afro-Latino man who won second place in the Democratic primary for House District 39 with 20.2 percent. In Maryland, a multi-member system is used per district, so winning second place still counts as winning.

That said, Acevero still has a second election coming up in November if he wants to make it to the General Assembly.

While Acevero won his election, there were a few other LGBTQ people who ran and lost. Openly bisexual Mila Johns, for instance, ran for House District 18, but sadly came in sixth. In addition, openly gay Kevin Mack, who’s also living with HIV, ran for House District 15, but came in fifth.

“A year ago I decided to plunge into a world I never thought I would enter and run for public office,” wrote Johns on her campaign’s Facebook page. “Tonight that amazing journey has concluded for now. I would like to thank the thousands of friends, neighbors, and supporters who voted for me, and the many wonderful organizations who endorsed me and my candidacy for delegate.”

It seems all of their hopes will now move on with Gabriel Acevero.

Rick Neal Is The First Openly Gay Man From Ohio Running For US Congress

While many danced to mock Vice President’s return to the state of Ohio, one gay man is preparing to run for a spot in Congress.

Rick Neal is currently in the running for the 15th district congressional seat for the state of Ohio. He is the first openly gay man to run for a congressional seat from the state and could become the first openly gay Congressman from Ohio.

Having realized that fact, Neal is especially appreciative during this month. While walking in the Stonewall Columbus Pride parade with his husband Tom and his two daughters, Neal notes how much LGBTQ rights have given him.

Just a few years ago, Rick Neal and his husband weren’t able to have kids or get married, but the fight for LGBTQ rights have allowed him to have a family. Now, he wants to give back.

"Democracy worked for me and my family and now I just want to make it work for everybody," said Neal to WCMH-TV Columbus.

When talking about the Pride event, Neal also added:

"Showing their support, they're showing their openness, that is the Columbus way," Neal said. "Everybody coming together, supporting each other. I felt that a lot this year. I thought it was fantastic."

"I'm always very proud to be able to get out there and to feel that support. Come on, it makes me feel awesome," he said.

That said, Rick Neal also shared that he did pause for a moment before deciding to run. He wanted to make sure the decision was right for his family and not just himself.

"Sure, we thought about it," Neal said. "I had a long discussion with my husband Tom and our girls and our extended family to talk about it, but you know what, we felt what people really wanted in this district was a fighter."

Now, Rick Neal is on the path towards becoming a Congressman. We’ll see if he’ll win the 15th district congressional seat in November.

Eric Holguin Could Become America's First Openly Gay Latino Congressman

Last month, we introduced you to Malcolm Kenyatta who may become the first openly gay black man to hold office in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives. Now, we’re happy to introduce to you a man who has a shot at becoming the first openly gay Latino in the US House of Representatives.

Eric Holguin in currently running for an open Congressional set for the state of Texas.

When Holguin entered the March 6 primary for Texas’ 27th Congressional district, he was considered a lost cause. While he made it to the runoff with 23.31% of the vote, his opponent for the Democratic candidacy had 41.22% of the vote.

That said, there was an upset later in May’s primary when Holguin ended up winning by 60%. This officially made him the Democratic nominee bidding for the seat former Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold, who resigned in April after news of sexual harassment and abuse broke.

Unfortunately, Holguin is still the underdog as the 13th district is typically run by Republicans. That said, he’s hoping that Democratic voters can help push him along to another surprise win.

If he does win, he’ll become the first openly gay Latino congressman in US history. Even better, he wouldn’t be the only LGBTQ politician in office as 50 LGBTQ candidates are running for positions in Texas in this coming November.

If you want to check out Eric Holguin more and his stance on political issues like engaging young voters, the #MeToo movement, and more, you can check out his official website.

h/t: Millennial Politics

Navy Veteran Is Mississippi's First Ever Gay Congressional Candidate

Navy veteran Michael Aycox is a political candidate for the history books as he is the first openly gay candidate ever to run in a Mississippi congressional race. 

One of two Democrats on the ballot in the June primary for Mississippi’s 3rd congressional district seat, Aycox came out to his family when he was 20 years-old. Although he feels he’s lived the past 10 years as an out gay man, he never felt the need to announce to the world, “I’m gay.”

But a recent event hosted by the Human Rights Campaign inspired him to stand up on behalf of his community.

"Until the campaign, I never really 'came out.' I didn't," he told the Clarion-Ledger. "This is me. It's not who I am, it doesn't define me, it's just a part of me. It's like having brown hair, it doesn't change who I am ... I didn't do this to be the voice of the LGBT community. I did this for change. I did this to make a difference."

Married since 2013 to his husband Mario, the couple lives in Newton, Mississippi, with their black lab, Sasha, who they rescued from a local humane society.

Aycox now works as an investigator for the Newton Police Department and Mario serves in the Florida Air National Guard. With Mario preparing to be deployed, Aycox is campaigning a lot on his own these days.

The 30-year-old was moved to run for public office after a disappointing experience with his own congressman, 3rd District U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, who announced his retirement in January.

Aycox had reached out to the congressman after receiving a diagnosis of thyroid cancer in 2016.  He’d contacted Harper’s office regarding help with his medical treatment, but says the congressman’s response time was disappointing. Aycox says he wants to be a congressman who is “easy to get in touch with.”

The only other Democrat in the race for the congressional seat is Michael T. Evans, currently a state representative and chicken farmer. 

While Aycox and Evans agree on much (supporting law enforcement and military, funding infrastructure and education), the two definitely have their differences.

Evans opposes marriage equality and voted in favor of HB1523, the anti-LGBTQ bill that allowed businesses to deny services to people based on religious beliefs..

Aycox says he gets emotional when he meets constituents at campaign events who feel they've been discriminated against because of their sexuality thanks to the law. 

"1583 literally shoved the community into the closet under penalty of law," Aycox told the Clarion-Ledger

The primary for Mississippi’s 3rd congressional district seat will be held on June 5.

This Man Just Became The First Openly Gay Mayor In All Of Israel

Israel now has its first openly gay mayor.

Specifically, the city of Ra’anana has just elected a gay mayor, which also happens to make him the first openly gay mayor that the country of Israel has ever had.

“I feel there is significance that another glass ceiling was shattered, showing the progress in Israeli society,” Eitan Ginzburg told The Jerusalem Post 

41-year-old Ginzburg started his first day on the job this past Sunday, but this isn’t his first time being in a political position, Ginzburg spent 15 years on Ra’anana’s city council and six years as a deputy mayor before he took the official title of mayor.

It was the city council who elected him into the position after Ze’ev Bielski left the position to lead the National Housing Authority.

Unfortunately, this means that Ginzburg is just an interim mayor until the municipal elections in October. Then, he will have to run for the position again.

In addition, support from religious/politcal officials isn’t necessarily implied for the following election in the fall, but Ginzburg isn’t worried. He’s just feeling the high of being elected this time.

Plus, Ginzburg is honored to be placed in the position now, even if he doesn’t win the election later this year. He’s especially pleased that he was selected based on his experience and merit.

“It felt normal because I was chosen because of my work,” Ginzburg said. “I am happy the fact that I am gay did not stop me from getting elected with the support of the Bayit Yehudi. I was chosen not because I am gay and not in spite of it, but because of the work I have done.”

Plus, Ginzburg is being recognized across the globe as both the first gay mayor in Israel and as the younger mayor working in Israel at the moment. He, his partner of 15 years named Yotam, and his twin children named Itai and Emma are honored to have so much praise being sent their way.

“I still haven’t understood I am an example internationally,” he said. “But I’ve started receiving letters from around the world. I am a regular guy with emotions, feelings, and views, and I don’t feel special in any way. I just see this as a message that there are no limits to success if you work hard.”

h/t: The Jerusalem Post