While on the local level we can only have so much impact, I believe that everything starts at the community level. I would focus on making sure that all of our neighbors, regardless of their identity, understand what we are fighting for, equality and community. – Anthony Saba
A few days after Election Day 2019, the Victory Fund released a list of known openly LGBTQ (self-identified, of course) candidates who won their offices. They identified two in Western Pennsylvania. After I published that information, I found three more for a total of five (so far) and who knows how many others who weren’t registered with the Victory Fund. If you know someone who should be on this list, please message them to message me privately. Loosely speaking, I’m interested in openly LGBTQ candidates who won their office in the Western portion of Pennsylvania.
So I created a political Q&A for these specific candidates who are mostly brand new to municipal politics. Four of the five have agreed to participate so far. And we’ll be using their responses as a launch pad to explore equality issues in their municipalities. Keep your eyes out for our rural LGBTQ organizing Q&A’s rolling out in this same time frame. It is all exciting stuff and worth diving into, I promise.
This is Anthony Saba, an openly gay man who with his husband will be joining the Crafton Borough Council. Anthony also identifies as Arab (see below) so Crafton has set the bar high for new voices from Pittsburgh communities seated at decision-making tables. I was pleased that he and his husband were able to successfully win their elections. Scroll down to read all posts in this series.
Your Name: Anthony Saba
Your Age: 30
Your Pronouns: He/Him/His
How do you describe your identity? Cis Gendered Gay Male
You recently won election to Crafton Borough Council Tell us about your district and the communities you will represent. Borough Council is an at large position therefore I am 1 of 7 that represent the community as a whole.
Please tell me about your familiarity with the LGBTQ community in your district, the public schools, and the region. Crafton is attracting more and more young LGBTQ couples that are investing in the beautiful homes and while we were out canvassing we got to meet some. I would love to see more interaction amongst the LGBTQ community in Crafton
Based on this, what do you understand to be our top LGBTQ concerns and priorities for your office? How will you respond to those priorities? I would say that a top concern is ensuring that we continue to pursue full equality. While on the local level we can only have so much impact, I believe that everything starts at the community level. I would focus on making sure that all of our neighbors, regardless of their identity, understand what we are fighting for, equality and community.
Why did you decide to run for this office? A fellow Council Member had said to be the change that you want to see. My husband and I attended Borough Council meetings and were appalled by the overall treatment of one another and of residents. I ran to put community back at the forefront of the Borough.
Tell me about your endorsements and supporters. We did not receive any official endorsement however our supporters are very diverse. During the campaign what I witnessed was the entire community, regardless of background, beliefs etc, came together behind us and our message of community. It truly was very enlightening to witness and experience first hand.
What are your top legislative priorities for your first months in office? I would like to see a focus on our infrastructure, a community outreach and really just listening to all parties in the Borough to see how we can continue to progress
How did your identity as an openly LGBTQ person impact and inform your campaign? How will it impact and inform your tenure in office? It did not have too much impact other than some of the hate we had received, however people were voting for us because of us and not necessarily for our sexual orientation. The one thing I will say that, when folks made an issue about us being “Gay,”, the community rallied behind us and let them know that the behavior and hate would not be tolerated in Crafton.
How does intersectionality inform your work? Being a young Gay Arab Male I have learned to embrace all of my identities not separately but as one, they are what make me who I am.
The threats of ‘religious liberty’ laws and exemptions target both LGBTQ rights and women’s rights. How do municipal councils navigate personal religious freedom while resisting systemic oppression and control of underserved people? The biggest thing we can do on the local level is to pass things such as Equality Acts, which is currently being discussed, and to inform the public of what is really happening. I believe in our Constitution and that each person has equal rights and will continue to fight and make our message known that we will not be silenced and that each person has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
How does open and visible representation of different LGBTQ identities in elected office change the world? It shines a positive light on the LGBTQ community that we are just like everyone else and that we are all fighting for the same rights and equalities. Unfortunately, there are not many positive representations of the LGBTQ community in the media.
Please tell us about your very first impression of Pittsburgh: A true melting pot, a place where multiple communities come together behind the notion of community.
What Pittsburghers have influenced your life and work? Mister Rogers, he instilled in me as a kid this grand idea of community and loving one’s neighbor
Please tell us about the first LGBTQ person that you knew and what impact they had on your life. The first LGBTQ person I knew was a professional businessman that did not portray the stereotype that we see in the media of a Gay Man in the 90s through the early 200s. He made me realize that you don’t have to the stereotype and that it does not make you less Gay. Most importantly, you can be successful and happy.
What is your message to the LGBTQ youth who may not realize that people like them hold elected office? Do not ever let anything hold you back, we are a diverse community and just be you, you will find the “family” that you seek and others just like you. Life is beautiful and worth living. There are people out there that will support you through it all.
The one thing I will say that, when folks made an issue about us being “Gay,”, the community rallied behind us and let them know that the behavior and hate would not be tolerated in Crafton.
Where can readers find you on social media? Facebook & LinkedIn
Is there anything you’d like to add? Get involved no matter how big or small it may seem, even the tiniest gestures have the biggest impact. We need to stay focused and push forward for true equality, for the day when it won’t matter who you are and what you identify as, the day that we are all seen as one race, the human race!
Thank you, Anthony.
Other posts in this series