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Mondaire Jones makes history as one of first gay Black men elected to Congress

Mondaire Jones greets potential voters
Mondaire Jones greets potential voters Photo: Campaign photo

Mondaire Jones has become one of the first gay, Black members of Congress after winning his race to represent New York’s 17th Congressional District. Fellow New Yorker Ritchie Torres also won his election.

Jones is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School who was a lawyer for President Barack Obama’s Justice Department. He decided to run in part to help galvanize communities who feel disillusioned about the political process, namely low-income communities, communities of color, and the LGBTQ community.

Related: Shevrin Jones & Michele Rayner win historic races as first out Black queer legislators in Florida

“So many people are disillusioned with our politics that they’re not paying attention to what’s going on and they’re not holding their representatives accountable,” Jones said in a 2019 interview with LGBTQ Nation.

He grew up in Rockland County, located in the 17th district, with a single mom working multiple jobs, in addition to relying on a Section 8 housing voucher and food stamps.

He also said that he had spent most of his first 32 years of his life struggling with his sexuality and fearing living as an out man because of the possible isolation and opportunities it might close off to him.

“So if I had had somebody to look up to growing up, someone in our politics who was Black and gay and a respectable person such as myself, it would have made my process of coming out much easier,” he said.

“I think about young people, especially young people of color, who are queer in this country who are contemplating things like suicide and whether they can go into a profession like politics. I’m fighting for those people. The representation I would provide I think would be transformational.”

“Mondaire’s victory is a milestone moment in our nation’s politics and his victory will inspire more people of color and LGBTQ people to run for office in their communities,” Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, said.

“Mondaire has been witness to the injustices faced by Black people, LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities and he ran for Congress to be in a position to address them. He will be a powerful voice for change and his impact will extend well beyond a single vote in the U.S. House.”

“Mondaire and Ritchie have shattered a rainbow ceiling and will bring unique perspectives based on lived experiences never before represented in the U.S. Congress. As our nation grapples with racism, police brutality and a pandemic that disproportionally affects people of color and LGBTQ people, these are the voices that can pull us from the brink and toward a more united and fair society.”

“Their elections will end any doubts about the electability of Black LGBTQ men to our nation’s highest legislative body,” she continued. “It will also inspire more young LGBTQ leaders and leaders of color to run and serve.”

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