Mississippi is set to appoint its first openly gay state legislator

Fabian Nelson after winning a Democratic primary runoff for House District 66.

The state of Mississippi is set to have an openly gay lawmaker for the first time in history after candidate Fabian Nelson won his first Democratic election runoff.

Nelson, 38, emerged victorious over fellow candidate Roshunda Harris-Allen in the runoff for House District 66 in southwest Jackson on Tuesday (29 August).

After defeating Harris-Allen 69-31, Nelson will now run unopposed on the November general election ballot, since Republicans did not field a candidate for the seat. Nor did any third parties or independents choose to run.

When he is officially sworn in, Nelson will have finally achieved his goal of sitting on the House floor one day – a dream he has had since visiting the US Capitol on an elementary school field trip.

“I still think I’m in a dream. I’m still trying to process it and take it in,” Nelson told the press on Wednesday (30 August) following the win.

“It’s still shocking to me, I have to be honest.”

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US Capitol
Nelson has dreamt of working on the House floor since he first visited the Capitol on an elementary school field trip. (drnadig/Getty Images)

Nelson was endorsed by the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund and the Human Rights Campaign during his run.

Commenting on his history-making victory, President of the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund Annise Parker said, per Mississippi Free Press: “Representation matters—especially in Mississippi, which is one of the last two states to achieve the milestone of electing an out LGBTQ+ lawmaker.”

Louisiana is now the only state with no openly LGBTQ+ lawmakers.

She continued: “Voters in Mississippi should be proud of the history they’ve made but also proud to know they’ll be well-represented by Fabian. Fabian’s victory is a testament to his dedication to his community and the thoughtful, diligent work he put into winning this campaign.”

Meanwhile, Rob Hill, state director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Mississippi chapter, told the press: “It sends a real message in a time when we are seeing attacks legislatively and through violence against the LGBTQ+ community that the majority of people reject that kind of animus.

“I think a lot of youth around the state who have felt like their leaders are rejecting them or targeting them won’t feel as lonely today.”

In office, Nelson plans to push for Medicaid expansion and improve healthcare access for those from low-income backgrounds. He also plans to speak out against any policies that could potentially harm marginalised communities.

Nelson’s goal to fight for those lacking representation, he believes, is ultimately what landed him the win.

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s great being first, but ultimately what won this campaign is the fact that I’m in touch with my community and the issues my community is facing,” he said.

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