Gay veteran who wears high heels elected mayor in Texas
A gay man who wears heels has been elected mayor in Texas – by a landslide.
Bruno “Ralphy” Lozano, 35, won 62 percent of the vote to become mayor of Del Rio, a city on the border with Mexico.
The first-time candidate, who has served as a security forces patrolman in the US military, defeated four-year incumbent Robert Garza.
In doing so, Lozano became Del Rio’s first ever openly gay elected official – not to mention the youngest person to be mayor in the city of 40,000 people.
And he triumphed in the election after choosing to march in high heels during last year’s veterans parade.
Lozano told Into that he had prepared himself for the “worst-case scenario” – but the response surprised and delighted him.
Instead of hatred and ignorance, the veteran had women and teenage girls come up to him with hugs and gratitude for his bravery in standing proudly in his truth.
He has however been the subject of prejudice during the campaign.
A meme of the new mayor reportedly surfaced on Facebook, showing the politician wearing heels and a tutu and accompanied by a hateful message calling him a “faggot” with AIDS, he said.
Attacks haven’t persuaded to Lozano to abandon his hopeful perspective, though.
He simply moves on, as he did in the military when he was ordered to be a part of enforcing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, a policy introduced under Bill Clinton’s presidency which created a compromise after Clinton failed to persuade military leaders to drop a ban on openly LGB people, but which led to the dismissal of around 14,000 servicepeople.
The policy was in force until President Barack Obama repealed the act in 2010. The repeal came into force in 2011.
Lozano was given the job of telling gay servicepeople that they were discharged.
It was a “heartbreaking” task, he said, and one which left him disenchanted.
“I am not ashamed of who I am, so I chose not to reenlist,” he said.
“I kept going. I moved on with my life.”
Speaking during his campaign, he said it was crucial for him to be visibly proud of his sexuality, to blaze a path for others.
“Stonewall happened because drag queens and a minority group stood up to animosity, and I had to go back in the closet because of that same hatred,” he said.
“I know what that was like, and it translates to today’s campaign.
“I’m not going to bow down. I am who I am. Accept me or not.”
It seems that Del Rio has chosen to accept him.
He largely defined himself during the election through his opposition to the policies and rhetoric of President Donald Trump, who has characterised border towns as hotbeds of crime and violence while spewing his anti-immigrant sentiment.
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“We don’t have this war zone going on,” said Lozano. “It’s beautiful down here.”
He said he wanted to unify the city, adding that the campaign had strengthened his belief that this was possible. “I’ve gained a huge following ever since I put my name in the hat,” he said.
“The Baby Boomers have been running the government over the last 20 to 30 years. Del Rio needs investment and infrastructure, flood prevention, and then they also need economic growth.”
“In the ‘90s and 2000s, [LGBT people] started moving away to safe zones in cities like Lakeview in Chicago, Chelsea in New York, or the Castro in San Francisco,” continued Lozano.
“But now we’ve started to go back to our communities and be part of it. I think it’s such an amazing opportunity to show that we are equal.”