If sipping bubbles and helping LGBTQ leaders get elected is your idea of a great time, get your tickets now for the Victory Fund’s May 15 Houston Champagne Brunch.
“The best way to fight this onslaught of anti-LGBTQ attacks is to elect more LGBTQ people to office, plain and simple,” says former mayor Annise Parker, the president and CEO of the Victory Fund. She’s referring to the nearly 240 anti-LGBTQ bills—mostly targeting trans people—that have been filed nationwide this year. “During this critical time, we are excited to bring LGBTQ leaders and allies together to strategize, share resources, and get energized about the 2022 midterms. With a historic number of out LGBTQ people running for office, including here in Texas, we are well-positioned to shatter expectations this year.”
According to the Victory Fund, a record 24 LGBTQ candidates won their Texas primary races in March—a 33 percent increase from 2020, when 18 candidates won. Ten of those candidates are running for the Texas State Legislature, where just six out LGBTQ members are currently serving. Victory Fund-endorsed candidate Venton Jones advanced to a runoff election in his race for the Texas State House. Jones would be the first out Black man ever elected to the Texas House, and the country’s first out Black state legislator who is openly HIV-positive. Jolanda Jones, who is running for the State House in District 147, advanced to a runoff election as well. She would be the first LGBTQ Black woman elected to the Texas House of Representatives.
Since 1991, the Victory Fund has helped thousands of openly queer candidates win local, state, and federal elections. The group works to increase the number of LGBTQ elected officials while also ensuring that candidates reflect the diversity of those they serve.
Besides Mayor Parker, featured speakers for the Victory Fund’s Houston Champagne Brunch are Pasadena Council Member Jonathan Estrada, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, and Texas State Representatives Celia Israel and Ann Johnson.
“I am honored to participate in this year’s Victory Fund Champagne Brunch,” says Johnson, who currently represents Harris County’s District 134, a seat she won in 2020. A Houston native, she ran unopposed in March but faces both a Republican and a Libertarian in November.
“We are seeing extreme attacks and discriminatory legislation targeting our LGBTQ community, [and] the devastating effects are already being felt,” she notes. “My commitment as a member of the Texas House of Representatives is to ensure all rights are protected for the LGBTQ community. Anti-equality bills would be more difficult to pass [if we had] more LGBTQ people in office. Being a member of the community has allowed me to speak from a personal level on legislation that impacts us. It is so important to increase LGBTQ representation so we can make change for our community.”
To date, the Victory Fund has endorsed 237 candidates running nationwide in the 2022 midterms. “The rainbow wave continues to gain momentum, fueled by voters’ resounding excitement to elect public officials that reflect the diversity and strength of our country,” says Mayor Parker. “This is a testament to the hard work of out LGBTQ elected officials fighting for and enacting public policy that represents the interests of all people, especially traditionally marginalized communities. It is also a testament to the LGBTQ activists and grassroots organizers who are changing hearts and minds in every corner of our country. With so much at stake, this is truly shaping up to be the year of the LGBTQ candidate.”
This article appears in the May 2022 edition of OutSmart magazine.