The “Rainbow Wave” Everybody Should Be Talking About
COMMENTARY

November 11, 2022by Nick Fulton, Communications Lead, The Global Women's Institute
The “Rainbow Wave” Everybody Should Be Talking About
Parade participants march down Market Street carrying the rainbow flag during the annual Gay Pride parade in San Francisco on June 30, 2013. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

In races across the country, LGBTQ candidates broke generational electoral standards this midterm season. From local elections to congressional races, queer candidates outperformed expectations and set a new standard for what elected office can and should look like.

Some of the most notable victories for LGBTQ candidates include:

  • Becca Balint (D) will become the first woman and the first openly gay candidate to represent Vermont in the House. 
  • James Roesener (D) was elected to serve in New Hampshire’s state House, making him the first openly trans man to serve in any state Legislature.
  • Maura Healey (D) won her gubernatorial race in Massachusetts, making her the country’s first lesbian governor.
  • Robert Garcia (D) will join California’s congressional delegation as the first openly LGBTQ immigrant to serve in Congress.

This wave of victories for LGBTQ candidates did not begin and end at the polls. According to the LGBTQ Victory Fund, a record-setting 678 LGBTQ candidates appeared on ballots across the country Tuesday. Hundreds more fell short of a major party nomination but made an impact on their communities throughout their campaigns.

LGBTQ Victory Fund Press Secretary Albert Fujii told USA Today that he is calling this trend of victories a “rainbow wave,” one that has been fueled by the resilience and the tenacity of the queer community. The past few years have been some of the most discriminatory periods in modern American history for queer populations.

From anti-trans legislation to organized violence against queer people, Republican-dominated spaces have allowed for the organized abuse of minorities. Having these new voices in Washington, and across the country, will hopefully not only humanize LGBTQ people but offer a more intimate perspective on legislation as it affects the LGBTQ community.

As we look on to 2024 and beyond, political pundits will be forced to recognize the electoral powerhouse that the LGBTQ community is becoming.

According to research done by the Human Rights Campaign, 11% of the eligible voting population identifies as openly LGBTQ, and by 2040 almost one-fifth of eligible voters will identify as members of this community. This rapidly growing voting bloc is more than enough to sway a progressive vote in most races.

For democracy to be functional and be a true reflection of the American people, representation must be on every ballot, in every election. Political commentators will be quick to now shift the conversation to 2024, but it is important to stay in this moment, to recognize the power of today.

LGBTQ people are occupying spaces they have been excluded from for decades. Queer people are finding success in politics while being open about their sexuality and gender identity. This “rainbow wave” has created the opportunity for young LGBTQ people to see themselves in their government, and to see public service as a field available to them.

Representation is everything, and representation won this election season. 


Nick Fulton is a Washington-based press professional who specializes in political advocacy communications. He currently serves as communications lead at George Washington University’s The Global Women’s Institute. You can find him on Twitter @ficknulton.

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