Texas has just elected its first openly gay Black man to office.
On Saturday, Jalen McKee-Rodriguez won his bid for San Antonio City Council in a run-off election against incumbent Jada Andrews-Sullivan. He won in a landslide victory with 63% of the vote, and is now the first openly gay Black man ever elected to office in the state.
Speaking to local affiliate KSAT 12 Saturday night, McKee-Rodriguez, a former high school math teacher, told the news outlet that he “[vows] to be that leader who is going to be working hard every single day.”
“A lot of people said that District 2 wouldn’t be ready for a candidate like me,” he continued. “Would District 2 be ready for a young, gay candidate? Is Texas ready for a young, gay Black man to be elected into any position? And, so I think that we proved and what the community proved is that everyone deserves representation. And if you have the right motives, if you have the right passions, and if you’re a good listener, the people will trust that.”
The Victory Fund, which had endorsed McKee-Rodriguez, praised his victory in a statement released over the weekend. “Jalen shattered a lavender ceiling in Texas, and it came as right-wing state legislators target LGBTQ people and people of color with bigoted policies aimed at rallying their extremist political base,” said President and CEO Annise Parker, referring to a bill restricting voting rights which Republicans are pushing through the state legislature. “We need more people of color, young people and LGBTQ people in state and local government who will ensure politicians look to improve the lives of Texans, not further marginalize them. Jalen’s victory is a rejection of the homophobic and racist politicking so fashionable in Austin and it will inspire more LGBTQ Black leaders to run and win.”
Prior to seeking office, McKee-Rodriguez had worked as a staff member for Andrews-Sullivan, but resigned his position in 2019 following allegedly anti-gay and discriminatory treatment at the hands of another staff member.