Former prosecutor Lori Lightfoot was elected as Chicago’s new mayor on April 2nd; she will replace Rahm Emanuel who has served since 2011. Lightfoot will become the first gay African American woman to hold office in the city.
Chicago has never seen a female African-American mayor before, and the two finalists were just that, according to the Chicago Public Library. Lightfoot swept the elections, gaining the majority of votes in all 50 wards, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“Seeing someone like Lightfoot succeed is informative in some ways, I guarantee a child somewhere in the world is looking at her and thinking, ‘If she can be educated and successful while being black, gay, and female, maybe I can do the same’,” said BenU’s GLOW President Rex Finan.
An article by the New York Times shines a light on a key issue- representation. Children of the LGBTQ+ community don’t often see themselves represented in society or in the media. While shows like Disney’s Andi Mack are beginning to tackle the issue, it is important for children to see such individuals in positions of power.
“Now young queer women and women of color can see themselves reflected in a position of major political leadership,” said Stephanie Sandberg, executive director of LPAC, an organization that works to build the political power of L.G.B.T.Q. women.”
There are people who were not happy about the election results; religious private schools are amongst them. An issue these types of schools have today is only looking at one perspective when it comes to LGBTQ issues. Children from religious schools are often taught that LGBT relationships are to be frowned upon, according to Mic. This kind of thinking along with familial rejection can lead kids to have mental health problems- and in the worst case scenario, lead to suicide, an article by The Human Rights Campaign states.
“A person’s identity is the most sacred part of themselves, it’s who they are,” commented Mr. Finan. “If I couldn’t even accept my own identity due to the conditions of my environment as a child, I can’t imagine others of similar upbringings outside of the acronym accepting me or my LGBT+ brothers, others and sisters very easily.”
Lori Lightfoot is scheduled to take the Oath of Office on May 20th of this year.