Democratic Connecticut State Representative Jason Bartlett made the decision on Thursday to come out publicly as a gay man.

Bartlett says he has always preferred to keep his personal life private, but felt the announcement was needed to quell the rumours about his sexual orientation.

Bartlett’s coming out makes him unique in the political world as the first openly gay black state legislator, according to the Washington Blade.

The 41-year-old representative stated that he has been out to his family for some time, but rumours about his sexual orientation prompted him to come out publicly.

“For me, the decision came down to, Why not now?” Bartlett said, according to the Danbury News Times.

“To me, this is about having a conversation with my larger family, the people of greater Danbury who voted for me.”

According to the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), Bartlett is one of only six openly gay black elected officials in the United States.

He is also the sixth openly gay legislator in the state of Connecticut, according to the Blade.

“Jason, just by very calmly and confidently saying, ‘I am gay,’ means a lot more than words can express,” said Herndon Davis, spokesman for NBJC. “There is a huge sense of pride.”

Bartlett is a freshman lawmaker in Connecticut, representing Bethel, Danbury and Redding, and was elected in a district with a 96 percent white population.

In an interview with the News Times, he stated that he has always supported gay rights, including civil unions and same-sex marriage. “I’ve never been a hypocrite,” he said.

Bartlett is up for re-election in November.

When asked whether coming out might have an effect on his re-election chances, he responded that is “a bridge I’ll cross when I come to it,” according to the News-Times.

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