A Board of Education member for Gwinnett County, Georgia has come out as gay.
Everton Blair is the first black member of Gwinnett County’s Board of Education. And now, he’s the first openly LGBTQ member as well.
For this year’s National Coming Out Day, Blair chose to come out publicly.
“On Coming Out Day, I’m choosing to invite people into this very important aspect of who I am,” he shared on Instagram. “And my hope is just that all the young people see themselves and see the possibilities of who they can be. Really feel loved and valued. Knowing that we’re just grown-up young people. And many of the experiences that I had growing up, I didn’t really understand that. I didn’t see that there were people who saw themselves in us. And in whom we could see ourselves.”
Blair later elaborated that his decision to come out was one of public service. He first started to think so in March after reports surfaced of Shiloh Middle School, a school in Blair’s district, teachers teasing an LGBTQ student.
“I wanted to (come out) in a way the encourage a lot of positive reflection,” Blair said to the Gwinnett Daily Post. “When I was running, it never came up. It was kind of a personal way I had been living my life, to share openly and honestly with friends and family, but wasn’t something I would particularly experience having to share with strangers.”
“No one should suffer any bullying or stigma on the basis of who they are,” Blair added. “There are too many leaders who are complicit or not standing firmly enough against the values we don’t want to see.”
Despite being the first openly gay and first black man in the Board of Education, there are other LGBTQ elected officials in Gwinnett County and in Georgia. Though, not many. In fact, there are only 15 openly LGBTQ elected officials in all of Georgia and now three in Gwinnett County.
Within the county, Blair is joining the ranks of Ben Ku and Sam Park. Ku is the first Asian-American and first openly gay person to serve on the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners. Meanwhile, State Rep Park was the first Asian-American Democrat and openly gay man to be elected to the state legislature.
On Twitter, Park congratulated Blair’s coming out with a post saying, “Thank you for your courage and lesdership. All the barriers you’ve broken, will inspire the next gen to love themselves and be their best. Proud of you, love you, and support you! [sic]”
Welcome to the family @evertonblairjr!
Thank you for your courage and lesdership. All the barriers you've broken, will inspire the next gen to love themselves and be their best. Proud of you, love you, and support you!
— Sam Park (@SamforGeorgia) October 11, 2019