Tennessee Elected Its First Openly LGBTQ Lawmakers

(left) Eddie Mannis and Torrey Harris. / Images via Eddie Mannis for State Representative and Torrey Harris Campaign

Congratulations to Torrey Harris and Eddie Mannis!

Last week, we shared with you a rundown of several LGBTQ people who were elected into office this election season. But now, it’s time that we focus on two soon-to-be politicians who are making history in the state of Tennessee.

Tennessee is enjoying a triumphant moment where two queer men have been elected to the state’s General Assembly. This makes Torrey Harris and Eddie Mannis the first openly LGBTQ people ever elected to represent the state.

According to NewsChannel5Nashville, bisexual Democrat Harris will soon represent Memphis’s District 90 and gay Republican Mannis will soon represent Knoxville’s District 18.

“I hope to be someone that you look to as a real representative. Somebody who will listen, empower, not just some but all Tennesseans in all the state,” said Harris.

Harris, who identifies as a progressive, ran on a platform pushing for better health care services and the bolstering of funding for public schools. Harris then beat his opponent, incumbent John DeBerry who’d become increasingly conservative over the years, with 77% of the vote.

“He’s of that progressive mindset that it’s their turn. I’m not saying he’s a bad boy. That’s not my call; that’s between him and God,” said DeBerry to MLK50. “I’m saying he has no business having his first job in politics in the House of Representatives of the state of Tennessee.” 

Keep in mind, DeBerry’s first elected position was the same District 90 seat. The only difference is, he won the seat in 1994 when he was 43-years-old.

As for Mannis, he too campaigned on the agendas of health care and education. Though, Mannis also promised voters that he would work on COVID-19 economic relief. Mannis also wanted it to be known that his political ideology would not mean that he’d support hateful legislation. In fact, he promised to work against legislation and shared ideas about proposing a bill targeting bullying in schools.

“I’ve never hidden from the fact that I’m a gay man,” Mannis told NewsChannel9ABC. “Gay is not exclusive to being a Democrat. I think we need representation in both parties to make progress. I do feel a little more pressure, but I am pleased that Tennessee now has 2 members of the LGBT+ community in the state legislature.”

The Victory Fund, a national organization that supports openly LGBTQ politicians, said in a statement about Harris and Mannis, “Their presence in the state legislature could dilute toxic anti-LGBTQ voices and lead to more inclusive legislation.”

According to ABC, the two newly elected officials have briefly spoken over the phone after their wins and are looking forward to working together in the future.


Source: NewsChannel5Nashville, MLK50, NewsCannel9ABC,

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