In 2019, there were 698 LGBTQ+ elected officials holding office in the U.S., an increase of almost 25 percent from the year prior. While the improvement is worth celebrating, overall the LGBTQ+ community still remains severely underrepresented in government positions. They make up 0.13 percent of elected officials nationwide but make up 4.5 percent of the U.S. population.
It’s still not enough representation, which is exactly why Marti Cummings is running for New York City Council.
Cummings is a non-binary drag artist who co-founded the Hell’s Kitchen Democrats in 2016 following the election. The group works as an advisor to the Nightlife Council, which aims to ensure positive growth, inclusion and safety for New York City’s nightlife industry and residents.
For Cummings, the transition from drag performances to politics wasn’t that big of a leap.
“Drag is inherently political,” Cummings told In The Know. “Whatever your drag style is, you’re going against the norm.”
As their platform grew from their performances, Cummings took the opportunity to use their audience to help people. Recently they’ve shared vital information about Black Lives Matter marches and organizations to donate to on their Instagram — which is followed by over 40,000 people — and tweeted about their arrest while protesting on June 3 to over 19,000 followers.
“For over a decade, I’ve had the great opportunity to be a drag artist in New York City,” Cummings says in their campaign video, dressed fully in drag. “It has been a great honor to use my platform as a performer to not only make people laugh and entertain them, but to advocate for issues that matter.”
By running for office, Cummings wants to open up more opportunities for representation — especially when it comes to who makes laws and policies. It’s not an easy road to pave, but Cummings wants this for the betterment of their community and New York City as a whole.
“It’s really scary to run for public office,” they told In the Know. “We need all these folks who feel that call to service to do it. I want queer people across the country to start running for office because that starts the dialogue.”
With recent stories like the Trump administration reversing transgender health protections amid a pandemic that, according to a study by UCLA, transgender men are more at risk of dying from, it becomes very clear why it’s so important for more LGBTQ+ members to get elected.
“LGBTQ representation in politics matters because our voices need to be heard at the table,” Cummings told In The Know. “We are a population that makes up every race, religion, economic background. The reason why there are so many letters is because we are such a diverse group and we need to make sure those voices are heard.”
Happy Pride! Read up on these 10 organizations and nonprofits that are creating change for the LGBTQ+ community and help them out by donating.
More from In The Know: