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LGBTQ Southern Voters Do More Than Vote

LGBTQ Southern voters have high participation rates, however they don't feel they affect the political process very much.

LGBTQ voters, SERPC
Dr. Austin Johnson, Director of the Southern Equality Research & Policy Center (SERPC) at the Campaign for Southern Equality (Courtesy photo)

LGBTQ Southern voters are participating in the political system as more than just voters. They’re also organizing, contributing funds, and, in some cases, running for office. However, even with high participation levels, LGBTQ voters don’t feel very powerful. They don’t believe that they affect the political process very much.

“LGBTQ Southerners are politically active, engaged, and aware. [Yet], they feel their engagement does not have an impact on public officials,” says Dr. Austin H. Johnson. Director of the Southern Equality Research & Policy Center (SERPC), Johnson is a researcher/activist focused on LGBTQ Southerners.

“The South is home to roughly 3.6 million LGBTQ adults—more than in any other region. We have the power to elect our leaders who will advance our community’s policy priorities.

“Elected officials all across the South must start listening to their LGBTQ constituents. We are here, we are participating in the political system, and we are growing more powerful each year. Lawmakers need to stop pushing discriminatory measures. [They must] start protecting and respecting everyone they serve.”

LGBTQ Southern Voter Profile

SERPC completed a survey,  Coming of Age as an LGBTQ Southerner: Family, Faith, Education & Health. The survey found several interesting facts about LGBTQ Southern voters.

  • First, LGBTQ and straight Southern voters register at near identical rates (86 percent  to 87 percent). 75 percent of LGBTQ Southern voters voted in the 2020 election compared to 64 percent of all Southerners.
  • Second, survey participants indicated a high awareness of state-level legislative attacks. 72 percent of survey respondents indicated they are aware of anti-LGBTQ legislation or policies.
  • Third, 72 percent of the survey’s participants say they are more likely to vote in response to anti-LGBTQ legislation.
  • Fourth, LGBTQ Southerners do more than vote. 25 percent of survey respondents said they joined or renewed membership in a political organization. 36 percent said they contributed money to a candidate or political cause. Among respondents, 15 percent said they volunteered for a political campaign.  A full 42 percent said they considered running for office themselves.
  • Fifth, LGBTQ Southerners reported feeling they were not able to influence politics or politicians. They were asked, “Do you agree that political officials care what you think.” Only 19 percent of participants agreed with the statement.

The Human Rights Campaign found LGBTQ voters currently make up 11 percent of eligible voters in the country. According to the HRC, LGBTQ voters will be almost 15 percent of all voters by 2030 and grow to nearly 20percent by 2040.

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Olivia Flores Alvarez

Olivia Flores Alvarez is a frequent contributor to OutSmart Magazine.
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