Jun 6, 2023 - World

Number of elected Latinos who identify as LGBTQ+ soars

Joe Vogel, a then 24-year-old gay Latino candidate for the Maryland House, greets supporters at a rally in Gaithersburg, Maryland, inm April 2022.

Joe Vogel, a then 24-year-old Latino candidate for the Maryland House, greets supporters at a rally in Gaithersburg, Maryland, in April 2022. Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The number of elected Latinos who openly identify as LGBTQ+ has more than tripled since 2017, outpacing the growth of all other LGBTQ+ candidates nationwide.

Why it matters: Latinos are one of the nation's fastest-growing voting demographics. The rise of LGBTQ+ Latino elected officials — as tracked by the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute — illustrates Hispanics' evolving diversity.

Details: The Institute, an organization that trains future leaders, tells Axios there were 165 openly LGBTQ+ Latino elected officials in 2023 in federal, state and local offices.

  • That's a 224% increase from 2017, the organization says.
  • The number of overall officeholders who identify as LGBTQ+ has increased by 68%, press secretary Albert Fujii tells Axios Latino.
  • Latino LGBTQ+ officials represent around 14% of all LGBTQ+ elected officials.

Zoom in: U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.), the first openly gay Afro Latino elected to Congress, is among those to win office in this six-year growth span.

  • Others who have made history include Minnesota state Rep. Alicia Kozlowski, the first non-binary person ever elected to that state's legislature, and Chicago City Councilmember Jessie Fuentes, who is a queer Latina.

What they're saying: "Whether it was going to school and being one of the few Latinos there, or being one of the few gay kids, I think that has exposed me to the importance of representation," Maryland state Delegate Joe Vogel (D) tells Axios.

  • Vogel's family is from Uruguay and is also Jewish, so those multiple identities have taught him the importance of storytelling to teach empathy, he says.
  • "It's no coincidence that I bring these different identities with me to work as a legislator, and I also was the leader on legislation to address the surge in hate crimes in our state."

Yes, but: Being in office doesn't mean you only have to focus on LGBTQ+ issues, Arizona state Rep. Lorena Austin (D), a Chicanx gender-nonconforming state legislator, tells Axios.

  • "What is really on my mind a lot is education and how it impacts so many facets of our communities," Austin says, adding they want to increase Arizona's low education funding.
  • Austin says they recognize they are standing on the shoulders of previous LGBTQ+ activists who helped open the doors for them.
  • "Twenty years ago, there's just no way I would have been able, as a young person, to come out. We have come so far."

Between the lines: A Gallup poll last year showed LGBTQ+ identification is higher among Latinos than white or Black American adults.

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