West Virginia Delegate Joshua Higginbotham may be a Republican, but his support for the LGBTQ community is well-known. In 2018, he expressed this view when West Virginia’s LGBTQ rights group Fairness West Virginia introduced their Faith is Fairness project. In a press statement from the group, Higginbotham said:
“I have friends and family in the LGBTQ community. I don’t want to see them discriminated against. I don’t want them to go through what generations of the past had to go through. What is the point in hating people? What is the point in discriminating against them? There is none. Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Higginbotham also took to his Twitter account in late January to declare his sponsorship of the latest version of the Fairness Act, a bill that would add workplace and housing protections for LGBTQ West Virginians. However, the bill was dead on arrival after it was introduced to the House of Delegates House Workforce Development Committee in March.
In mid-June, Higginbotham posted a video to his Twitter account to come out as gay. The 24-year-old delegate, who has been in office since he was 19, explained in the video why he waited until now to come out instead of while he was campaigning:
“The answer is a little bit complicated. There were some people in my family (when) I was in high school and college who didn’t know yet about this. Frankly, they weren’t really ready to know so I was concerned that they may disown me. I told them, they didn’t. We’re all good. They’re 100% supportive and we made a decision as a family to be more open about this and to make it public because there’s nothing wrong with it. I’m not ashamed of it, I’m not embarrassed by it. It’s part of who I am, and I wanted to share this part about me with you.”
I’m gay. I’ve wanted to tell you this for many years, but I couldn’t be public like I wanted because there were still a few people in my family who didn’t know yet—now they do. So now I’m telling you, too. pic.twitter.com/k1ImZY6qPZ
— Joshua Higginbotham (@Higginbotham4WV) June 13, 2021
Higginbotham is the first Republican holding office in the state of West Virginia to openly identify as LGBTQ. The response from Higginbotham’s coming out video for the most part was positive, including support from Rosemary Ketchum, West Virginia’s first openly transgender politician.
However, there were some negative reactions.
The Family Policy Council of West Virginia, a conservative Christian political group in the Mountain State, vilified Higginbotham’s coming out in a scathing editorial on the group’s website a day after Higginbotham posted the video, stating:
Higginbotham has become a spokesperson for the woke and is part of the reason our state and country’s culture is in a sexual-identity crisis. The Judeo-Christian values system that our laws are based on is under assault by LGBTQAI evangelists and their converts, like Higginbotham. So truth-tellers like the Family Policy Council and our allies must clearly communicate and speak with precise language when confronting them about their damaging worldview.
Precise truth: Regardless of how someone identifies, there is no such thing as a “straight” person, and there is no such thing as a “gay” person…
He was deceptive, telling Republican voters that he supported their conservative platform on sexuality. He fraudulently obtained the Family Policy Council’s endorsement by lying on his candidate survey. And he espouses dangerous policy positions on sexuality that could influence, convert, and eternally condemn West Virginia children. He was a sponsor of the Fairness Act that would punish any business owner who disagreed with LGBTQAI dogma. In 2016 the Family Policy Commissioned a poll to ask typical voters of all parties if they supported such an invasive law as the Fairness Act. 93% disagreed and 83% strongly disagreed. Yet Higginbotham was still pushing it in 2012. All of these deceptions and dangers disqualify him for public office.
The group also used its Facebook page to attack Higginbotham’s coming out.
Charleston Gazette-Mail’s Lacie Pierson wrote a story on Higginbotham’s coming out and how it highlighted the need for protections for LGBTQ West Virginians. In the story, Pierson writes:
When West Virginia Delegate Josh Higginbotham posted a video on social media earlier this month announcing that he is gay, he was aware of the privilege he had to do it, as well as the risk he was taking.
Higginbotham, R-Putnam, said he’d been ready to come out since he was 16 but felt like members of his family “weren’t ready to know.”
Some people cut contact with him, he said, but most people in his life, including his peers in the Legislature, have been accepting and supportive.
“You know, that’s what matters,” Higginbotham said. “There are a lot of young people in this state who are going through the same thing. They are afraid that their families may disown them. They are afraid of it impacting their academic career or their professional career.”
Higginbotham has also come under attack from LGBTQ publications, who have branded him as a Trump supporter even though he has made no mention of the former President of the United States save for an old campaign video on his YouTube channel from 2018.
What are your thoughts on Higginbotham? Let us know in the comments or on our social media accounts.
Sources: Fairness West Virginia, WVLegislature.gov, Joshua Higginbotham Official Twitter Account, The Family Policy Council of West Virginia, The Family Policy Council of West Virginia Facebook Page, Charleston Gazette-Mail, Joshua Higginbotham YouTube Channel,