The LGBTQ community in Massachusetts is celebrating Maura Healey’s election as the nation’s first openly lesbian governor.
Healey recognized the moment at her victory party Tuesday night at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston.
“I want to say something to every little girl and every young LGBTQ person out there,” she said, before being drowned out by applause. “I hope tonight shows you that you can be whatever, whoever you want to be.”
Arline Isaacson, co-chair of the Massachusetts GLBTQ Political Caucus, said she remembered how hard it was to pass a gay and lesbian civil rights bill in the state three decades ago.
“There were legislators on the floor of the state senate who actually called us [expletive] and lesbos in the middle of the debate,” she recalled.
“So you juxtapose that to fact we just elected an out and proud lesbian — it’s as yin and yang as you can get,” Isaacson added.
Grace Sterling Stowell has been the executive director of the Boston Alliance of LGBTQ+ Youth since the 1980s. She said Healey’s win is the result of decades of organizing.
“Back then we were trying to survive and get basic legal protections, basic support, basic services,” she said. “Something like an out lesbian governor of Massachusetts – it was unimaginable.”
And Healey may have company: Oregon gubernatorial candidate Tina Kotek, also an out lesbian, held a narrow lead on Wednesday in a still undeclared race.
Despite those milestones, Isaacson, of the GLBTQ Political Caucus, said people in the community still feel vulnerable.
She pointed to a Florida law that bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation, along with efforts in several states to restrict hormone therapy and other procedures for transgender minors.
“We’ve made enormous strides – and Maura is a quintessential example of that,” Isaacson said. “But the fact is, it ain’t over til it’s over.”
Healey will be sworn in as governor in January. In her new role, Healey says she will work to protect the rights of other people in the LGBTQ community.