Gay, HIV-positive Democrat Corey Johnson running for New York City mayor
New York City could get an openly gay Mayor, as council speaker Corey Johnson launched a campaign to back his potential run for the office.
Johnson, the out-and-proud Speaker of New York City Council, confirmed he is considering a run to replace the city’s term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose is set to leave the office in 2021.
The potential candidate officially launched a Corey 2021 campaign well in advance of the election, which is slated for November 2021.
In a tweet on January 28, he confirmed: “It’s a big decision, but I am thinking about a potential people-powered Mayoral run.”
Johnson vowed to take no money from “real estate developers, lobbyists or corporate PACs,” and limit the maximum individual contribution to his campaign to $250.
The announcement was followed by a rush of support, Johnson says.
The candidate later tweeted: “My team just told me we’re averaging about one contribution per minute this morning since I announced I’m considering a Mayoral run.
“My campaign isn’t taking a cent from lobbyists, real estate developers or corporate PACs, so I need you.”
The election of an openly gay mayor would represent a remarkable change in the city, which once saw an infamously homophobic battle for the role.
In the 1977 election between Mario Cuomo and incumbent Mayor Ed Koch, a smear campaign was launched bearing the slogan “Vote for Cuomo, not for the homo.”
Koch, who passed away in 2013, never opened up about his sexuality in his lifetime, but was described as a “closeted gay man” by activist Larry Kramer, who slammed Koch’s refusal to become more personally invested in the battle against HIV/AIDS.
New York City mayoral candidate Corey Johnson has been a long-time LGBT+ rights pioneer
If Johnson is victorious in 2021, it would be the latest in a succession of firsts for the candidate, who has previously made history as the only openly HIV-positive politician in New York state.
Johnson made national headlines as a teenager in 2000 when, as captain of his high school football team at Masconomet Regional High School, he came out as gay.
Aged just 17 at the time, Mr Johnson was featured in the New York Times and on TV show 20/20 to talk about his life and LGBT rights. He later became a contributor for gay blog Towleroad.
He joined the New York City council representing the 3rd District in 2014, and has fought on issues including homelessness, criminal justice, health and women’s rights.
Johnson was elected Speaker of the city council in January 2018, becoming the first openly gay person to take the role.
Corey Johnson: I was suicidal when I came out as gay
Speaking at the time, he said: “When I came out at 16 years old, I was suicidal, despondent and didn’t want to live.
“I told my mother that I was gay, and she told me that she loved me, unconditionally, without hesitating.
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“A few months later, [I told] my grandfather. He was an 82-year-old Irish Catholic who went to Mass every single day.
“I said, ‘Grandpa, I have something to tell you.’ He said, ‘you’re killing me, spit it out!’. I said, ‘I told mum and dad that I’m gay’.
“He said, ‘Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I thought you were going to tell me you were a Republican! You can be gay, you just have to be a Democrat.’
“Grandpa, I’ve lived up to that end of the bargain – I’m gay and I’m a Democrat.
“Each one of us in this body has a story like that, no matter where we came from or what our life experience is. That’s the great thing about our city – it’s the most diverse city in the world.”