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Ritchie Torres to be 1st gay Black-Latino member of Congress

Ritchie Torres

Ritchie Torres, the Democratic candidate in New York’s 15th Congressional District, has been declared the winner in the U.S. House race and will make history as the first Black-Latino member of Congress who identifies as a member of LGBTQ community. Photo: Ritchie Torres campaign.

Ritchie Torres, the Democratic candidate in New York’s 15th Congressional District, has been declared the winner in the U.S. House race and will make history as the first Black-Latino member of Congress who identifies as a member of LGBTQ community.

Torres, 32, who was first elected to the New York City Council when he was 25, also will be New York City’s first LGBTQ member of Congress.

“Tonight we made history,” Torres tweeted Tuesday night, calling it “the honor of a lifetime to represent a borough filled with essential workers who risked their lives so that New York City could live” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Democrat Mondaire Jones also broke the glass ceiling as the declared winner in his Congressional House race to represent New York’s 17th District. He will be the first gay Black member of Congress.

Ritchie and Jones will be the second and third gay men of color to serve in the U.S. Congress.

California Congressman Mark Takano, a Democrat, is the first gay man of color elected to the House of Representatives or the Senate. Since 2013, he has represented the 41st District, which covers western Riverside County.

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“Most would have thought New York City’s first LGBTQ member of Congress would be from Chelsea or Greenwich Village or Hell’s Kitchen, but the Bronx beat them to it,” Annise Parker, president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement. “As our nation attempts to tackle systemic racism, police reform and healthcare disparities, Ritchie’s lived experience as an out LGBTQ Afro-Latinx man will bring an essential perspective to Capitol Hill.”

Torres, 32, who grew up in public housing, has said that his Bronx district, the nation’s poorest congressional district, needed a fighter like him in Washington. Torres is a member of the New York City Council.

Also making history Tuesday night is Sarah McBride. She won her election for the Delaware state Senate, becoming the first self-identified transgender person ever elected to a state senate in the United States.

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The victory comes just three years after Danica Roem became the first out trans person to ever win and be seated in a state legislature, winning a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Overall, four transgender people serve in state legislatures.

In all, 26 LGBTQ candidates for the Senate or the House were on the November ballot — more than at any other time in U.S. history.

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The House of Representatives has seven LGBTQ members, while the Senate has two lesbian members, Tammy Baldwin and Kyrsten Sinema.

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About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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