As much as we in the LGBT community are used to being let down and disenfranchised — especially since last November’s election — we do have our good days, and they need to be recognized and appreciated.
Many might not have considered this November’s election one of those good days. Cathy Woolard — the first openly LGBT elected official in Georgia history and as good a chance as we’ve ever had to lead the city — lost.
So did Liliana Bakhtiari, a queer Muslim who generated a lot of excitement in the Atlanta City Council District 5 race. And Reese McCranie and Josh McNair, who competed against each other and a slew of other candidates in the Fulton County Commission District 4 race. McCranie’s and McNair’s entry into the race made for the rare occasion of two LGBT candidates in the same race in Georgia. Openly gay political newcomer Laban King joined the same rare company with his presence in the Atlanta mayoral race, ultimately finishing without any votes.
I could go on about all of the other races in which LGBT candidates lost on Nov. 7, but there’s something to be said for what we definitely won: clout.
First off, the Doraville City Council elected two LGBT candidates — Joseph Geierman and Stephe Koontz, who became the first openly transgender elected official in Georgia.
And yes, Woolard lost in the Atlanta mayoral race. But she came in a strong third, garnering double the percentage of votes that many polls said she would gain. And with that, she gained a great deal of attention from the remaining two candidates. She was even able to have them participate in a public “conversation” about the issues she ran on.
Woolard’s narrow loss and the resulting attention on her since Election Day amplified the attention on the LGBT community as a whole. Bottoms and Norwood know we’re politically engaged, and they’ve shown their eagerness for our vote by attending and hosting events for us since Election Day.
All of the candidates in the nearly 30 other races in the metro Atlanta area headed for the runoff are courting us as well.
The LGBT candidates in those races include Alex Wan for Atlanta City Council president, Keisha Waites for Fulton County chair and De’Andre Pickett for Georgia House District 60, which covers parts of Atlanta, Hapeville, East Point, College Park and Forest Park.
A win for Wan and/or Waites puts them in a high profile seat with a lot of (here’s that word again) clout. And with a win in HD60, Pickett would join Karla Drenner, Park Cannon, Renitta Shannon and Sam Park as the only openly LGBT members of the state Legislature.
So while we may not see an openly LGBT person sitting behind the Atlanta mayor’s desk for at least the next four years, there are still other opportunities for our community to lead. The first one happens on Dec. 5.