FAMU grad Shevrin Jones raises the bar in Florida

Shevrin Jones, a FAMU alum, makes history as the first openly gay man elected to the Florida State Senate. Photo courtesy NBC News

This election has seen multiple historical “firsts” and a record number of influential wins. Kamala Harris will become the first female vice president of the United States under the presidency of Joe Biden. But the successes do not stop there. A record number of LGBTQ candidates scored victories that made history across the United States.

According to the LGBTQ Victory Fund, there were approximately 574 LGBTQ candidates on the ballot and state election results show that more than 220 won their respective races. Never before has there been this much representation on an election ballot for LGBTQ candidates. Several FAMU voters are calling it a “rainbow wave.”

For Jada Haywood, a first-year food science student, the lack of representation for LGBTQ candidates in elections has deterred her from wanting to vote. But this election, she felt a renewed hope as hundreds of queer politicians filled the ballot.

“As someone who is a part of the LGBTQ family, I think it’s super important that we increase our representation in political offices,” Haywood said. “Who else could be a better advocate for our community than our own community members? We need people like us, for us.”

Supporting the election of LGBTQ candidates is not foreign to FAMU students. Florida state Senator Shevrin Jones, a FAMU alum, received immense support from the Rattler student body. Jones will be the first openly gay men to serve in the stateSenate, after previously serving in Florida’s House of Representatives.

According to an interview with NBC News, Jones said the election of a record number of lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual candidates “is a direct pushback on the hatred and bigotry over the last four years,” referring to President Trump’s open discrimination against immigrants, the LGBTQ community and people of color.

“Having Shevrin Jones be elected to the Florida state Senate and also be a FAMU graduate just shows the level of prestige we have at our school,” Haywood said. “Once a Rattler, always a Rattler.”

Other notable victories for the LGBTQ community came in the form of defeats from other incumbent candidates. One of Jones’ opponents, former state Senator Daphne Campbell, previously supported anti-gay legislation, specifically a ban on adoption for gay couples.

The election of LGBTQ candidates to the state Legislature despite the state turning red shows voters’ broad support for pro-queer and transgender rights.

This year has also been a record-breaking year for transgender elected officials across the nation as well. Voters elected six transgender candidates to state offices that will increase the current number from four to seven.