With Bruce Kraus' victory in the Democratic primary, today is an historic moment for Pittsburgh and all of Western Pennsylvania. Kraus is the first openly gay person to be headed for the hallowed halls of the City Council of Pittsburgh. In fact, he is the first openly gay elected official in Western Pennsylvania. Well, he will be after the General Election in November. But you know us Pittsburghers — it is all primary, all the time for local races.
What does this mean for your everyday average queer? Puh-lenty.
First, it means that Pittsburghers are more progressive and openminded than the Allegheny County Democratic Committee and others would have you believe. A progressive gay man defeated the incumbent, party-endorsed candidate. Change can happen.
Second, it means that the rest of the elected officials are going to have to interact with a real live homosexual on a regular basis. I relish this because, in my experience, this kind of personal interaction is the best vehicle to break down prejudice and build understanding. We cannot underestimate the power of these relationships to bring about change for all Pittsburgh residents, gay and straight.
Third, it means we finally get to see someone who “looks” like us AND acknowledges he is “us” in a leadership position. Not another closeted wink, wink politico. Not someone we speculate about every so often. Rather, someone who is proud and confident enough in his identity to share this part of life with the entire electorate. Kraus told Pittsburgh's OUT newspaper that his campaign is about more than his sexuality (no weblink available). That's certainly true, thank goodness, but I think it is good for the regional LGBTQ community to savor this moment.
Finally, it means we get a progressive, energetic and dedicated member of city council to join our allies Bill Peduto and Doug Shields. Kraus campaigned on the loss of Community Development Block Grant monies for organization such as the Gay & Lesbian Community Center, Shepherd Wellness Center and Persad, the region's LGBTQ mental health provider. He wants to do something about the liquor license situation on the South Side. He has a proven record of community involvement and civic leadership. He won the endorsements of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steel-City Stonewall Democrats and the Gertrude Stein Political Club of Pittsburgh. He garnered the support of the Victory Fund.
Bruce Kraus is our candidate. Soon he will be everyone's member of Council. Hallelujah!