In February, San Diego’s new mayor-elect, California State Assemblymember Todd Gloria, told LGBTQ Nation that being gay is a superpower.
“I really found my way to being able to put myself out of my comfort zone, not just for me, but for other people,” he said. “I hope to do that every day as mayor.”
This week, Gloria became not only the first LGBTQ person elected as San Diego mayor, but also the first person of color elected to the position.
🏳️🌈 VICTORY! 🏳️🌈@ToddGloria is now the first openly LGBTQ+ person & first person of color elected mayor of San Diego!
San Diegans have sent a clear message that they want a bold, progressive mayor who will unite the city & fight for everyone. Congratulations, Mayor-elect Gloria! pic.twitter.com/sAVuxVu55Z
— Equality California (@eqca) November 5, 2020
In 2013 and 2014, he served for several months as interim mayor following the resignation of Bob Filner amid sexual harassment allegations. But it wasn’t until this month that he was elected to the position, a historic first in the U.S.’s eighth largest city.
As it became clear that Gloria would win his race, he addressed the citizens of San Diego: “My fellow San Diegans, 22 months ago we launched this campaign with a vision, a vision of a San Diego that can work for all of us, a San Diego where your zip code does not determine your destiny and where there is equal opportunity in every neighborhood for every San Diegan.”
“We launched this campaign with a belief… that when we come together, when we work together, there is nothing we cannot do and no challenge we cannot overcome… And tonight, San Diego, because of you, we are poised to make history.”
Gloria added that despite having reason to celebrate, he will remain vigilantly focused on addressing the issues facing the city, from the challenges that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, to the city’s housing and homelessness crisis, to the “social reckoning rooted in systemic racism” that our country is experiencing.
As the Victory Fund pointed out, Gloria will be the second highest-ranking out LGBTQ mayor currently serving in the country (after Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot) and the third highest-ranking out LGBTQ mayor in U.S. history.
Me and San Diego’s new First Pup. 🐶 https://t.co/FsrVo56P86
— Todd Gloria (@ToddGloria) November 6, 2020
“[Todd’s] voice and his impact on critical issues – and especially civil rights – will extend far beyond the boundaries of his city and state,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, “Todd will undoubtably become a role model for many LGBTQ young people who too rarely see someone like them in a position of power.”
Gloria has already spent his political career fighting for LGBTQ people. He spent eight years representing the city’s LGBTQ neighborhood on the San Diego City Council, where he helped establish the city’s first affordable housing complex for LGBTQ seniors, worked on the “Getting to Zero” initiative to help fight HIV and AIDS, and also led the passage of an ordinance that prevents contractors from discriminating against LGBTQ couples.
In the California Legislature, he has continued his HIV advocacy as the vice chair of the state’s largest ever LGBTQ caucus.
Gloria started his activism young. As a student at the University of San Diego, he led a movement to add sexual orientation to the campus nondiscrimination policy. He told LGBTQ Nation that being the subject of homophobic bullying in high school and college helped him find his voice as an activist and ultimately, a politician.
“Representation matters,” he said, of all he has been able to accomplish. “If you’re in that room, you can bring up these issues that often aren’t discussed.”