The First Two Openly Gay Black Men Were Just Elected To Congress

To say this is an election season that will go down in history is an understatement. Along with notable events such as an enormous voter turnout and an unprecedented number of women of color running for office, not one but two openly gay Black men were voted into Congress. Democrat Mondaire Jones and Democrat Ritchie Torres both won in New York.

Thirty-three-year-old Jones, of New York’s 17th District, is a Harvard-trained lawyer. He is also founder of Rising Leaders Inc., a non-profit organization providing mentoring and leadership skills to underserved middle school students.

In a Nov. 3 tweet, Jones talked about the impact of his childhood on his political platform.

“My grandmother used to clean homes in Congers. When daycare was too expensive, she took me with her. Now I get to run to represent the same people whose homes I watched my grandmother clean growing up,” Jones posted. “My story, quintessentially, is that of the American Dream.”

Torres, 32, is a New York City Council member who identifies as Afro-Latino. He became the youngest elected official in New York City at age 25 and the first openly LGBTQ elected official from the Bronx. He represents New York’s 15th District.

On Nov. 3, Torres thanked his supporters on social media.

“Tonight, we made history,” Torres tweeted. “It is the honor of a lifetime to represent the essential borough, the Bronx.”

“I hope I can represent the possibility that a poor kid, a kid of color, an LGBTQ kid from a place like the Bronx, can overcome the odds and become a member of the United States Congress,” Torres told CNN.

Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who is president of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, expressed the outcome as a milestone in multiple areas.

“Mondaire and Ritchie have shattered a rainbow ceiling,” Parker told the Associated Press, “and will bring unique perspectives based on lived experiences never before represented in the U.S. Congress.”

Both newly-minted Congressmen will take their seats inside the U.S. House of Representatives in January.