Out LGBTQ+ political candidates have had a landmark year in 2022. For the first time, out candidates have run or are running in every state, with a record total of 1,065 running for state, local, federal, and judicial offices.
The information comes from the LGBTQ Victory Fund’s third annual “Out on the Trail” report, released Wednesday. The report shows not only record numbers but increased diversity.
“Voters are sick and tired of the relentless attacks lobbed against the LGBTQ community this year,” said a statement from Victory Fund President and CEO Annise Parker. “Bigots want us to stay home and stay quiet, but their attacks are backfiring and instead have motivated a new wave of LGBTQ leaders to run for office. When they tried to ban books and censor LGBTQ kids and teachers, a record number of LGBTQ people ran for school board. When they introduced a historic number of anti-LGBTQ laws in state legislatures, LGBTQ people ran for state legislatures like never before. When they tried to stall federal pro-equality legislation, we ran for Congress like never before.”
The number of out candidates, 1,065, represents a 5.9 percent jump from the previous record of 1,006, set in 2020. Of the 1,065, at least 678 will be on the general election ballot in November, having won their primaries or otherwise advanced. That’s up from 574 in 2020, an 18.1 percent increase. The number who won their primaries represents a history-making 63.7 percent of known LGBTQ+ candidates, compared to 57.1 percent in 2020 and 60.1 percent in 2018.
The proportion of LGBTQ+ candidates of color grew significantly in 2022 — they account for 38.2 percent of all LGBTQ+ candidates, compared to 30.9 percent in 2020 and 28.7 percent in 2018. For the first time in a midterm or presidential year, more Black LGBTQ+ candidates ran than Latinx LGBTQ+ candidates, representing 14 percent and 13.2 percent of LGBTQ+ candidates, respectively.
Candidates of color, including Black, Latinx, and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, made up 38.2 percent of the total, yet they’re still underrepresented, as people of color are 41 percent of the U.S. population.
Candidates who are not cisgender, including those who are transgender, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming, ran in record numbers, representing 13.9 percent of all LGBTQ+ candidates, compared to 7.9 percent in 2020 and 9.1 percent in 2018. Fifty-four nonbinary and/or genderqueer candidates ran in 2022, compared to 17 in 2020 and just four in 2018.
More than half of LGBTQ+ candidates — 55 percent — were gay men, a number relatively consistent with previous years. Queer-identified candidates saw the greatest growth, representing 11.2 percent of LGBTQ+ candidates compared to 6.8 percent in 2020 and 4.3 percent in 2018. The number and proportion of lesbian candidates declined — 18.2 percent in 2022 compared to 26.7 percent in 2020 — while bisexual candidates also grew in proportion and number.
California had the most out candidates of any state, with 178, while Mississippi was last among the 50 states, with one. In addition to out candidates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, there were known LGBTQ+ candidates in the territories of Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. More out candidates ran for Congress than ever before, at least 119.
As in previous years, Democrats made up the overwhelming majority of out candidates; this year’s figure was 89.3 percent. Republicans made up 4.5 percent and independents 2.3 percent, with the remainder divided among various minor parties.
Victory Fund endorsed 497 candidates in 2022, the most in its 31-year history. Of those, 438 will appear on the ballot in November or already won their general election races.