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Gay Democrat tops ‘homophobic’ Trump supporter in race to become America’s first out queer Black congressman

Reiss Smith June 24, 2020
Ritchie Thomas and Ruben Diaz Sr

Gay candidate Ritchie Thomas has taken an early lead over hat-wearing anti-LGBT+ opponent Ruben Diaz Sr. (Getty)

Democrat Ritchie Torres was one of two gay Black men to top the polls in New York’s congressional primaries.

Torres took an early lead in the race for New York’s 15th congressional district Tuesday (June 23), capturing 30 per cent of the votes cast in heavily a crowded field.

With a large number mailing in their votes this year, the final results are highly subject to change, and will not be announced until after after June 30.

Among Torres’ stiffest competition is Ruben Diaz Sr, a conservative Democrat who has praised Donald Trump, claimed the New York City Council is “controlled by the homosexual community” and protested against equal marriage.

He came in third after polls closed, but has been widely tipped as a frontrunner.

Ritchie Torres fears New York seat ‘could fall into homophobic hands’.

“There’s a real risk that the bluest congressional seat in America could fall into the homophobic hands of a pro-Trump, [police union-backed] Republican,” Torres told ABC News.

He said his focus, should he win, will remain squarely on serving the people of his hometown, the South Bronx.

“The opportunity to represent the essential workers of this borough, to represent the powerful mothers of this borough, it’s the culmination of a dream,” he told the New York Post.

No openly queer Black person has ever served in US congress. Alongside Torres, another New Yorker is running to make history in this respect: Mondaire Jones.

Mondaire Jones takes convincing victory in New York primary.

Jones, a progressive candidate, is the clear frontrunner in the primary for New York’s 17th congressional district.

He claimed more than double the votes of any of the other six candidates after polls closed, meaning victory is likely, if not fully assured.

Mondaire Jones
Mondaire Jones will likely become one of the first out gay Black men in Congress. (Mondaire For Congress)

The seat he is contesting is considered a safe Democrat pickup, meaning should he retain his lead once mail-in votes are counted, his place in history is almost certain.

Jones insists he wants to upend traditional politics.

“I said at the beginning of this race, I was never running to be one of 135 people in the House of Representatives,” he told Iohud.

“I’m running to be a transformational figure in American politics.”

Barbara Jordan was the first known gay Black congressperson – though she didn’t address her sexuality publicly during her lifetime, her obituary mentioned her longterm relationship with another woman.

More: Democrats, Mondaire jones, New York, Ritchie Thomas

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