Democratic school board member Everton Blair is making the most of National Coming Out Day, by speaking about his sexuality for the first time.
The Democrat, who sits on Gwinnett County Board of Education in Georgia, spoke about the barriers he has faced as a black queer person.
He said in an Instagram post: “This National Coming Out Day, I’m choosing to share something I haven’t said publicly before. I am a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community: a gay man.”
Everton Blair says diverse, intersectional leadership is important.
Blair added: “As the first African American and youngest ever member elected to the largest and most diverse school system in Georgia, I recognise the importance of diverse, intersectional leadership that supports all and harms none.
“I’m incredibly excited — and hopeful — to stand with the thousands of LGBTQ+ students in my school district in this new way.
“And I know I’m far from the only one to share this important truth. We know there are many LGBTQ+ elected officials and candidates still not in the space to share, and we must continue to find ways to support them.”
The politician continued: “As a black gay school board member, there are experiences I recount where I felt either too black in gay environments or too gay in black ones.
“And though I struggled with the decision to come out, I know that we must become the intersectional role models we seek for future generations and fight back against attacks on our civil liberties. ”
He added: “As I step into this space and remember the young black boy who grew up without someone to affirm his identity, I’m also coming out for the 180,000 students in my district and beyond who have ever struggled to accept themselves.
“My hope is that young people love themselves and see the possibilities of who they can become without having to deny their identities or question their self-worth.”
The Democrat is one of just two out black men in office in Georgia.
Annise Parker of Victory Institute, which supporters LGBT+ lawmakers, praised his bravery.
She said: “Everton’s coming out will have an impact far beyond the borders of Gwinnett County – as he affirms the identities of LGBTQ students and sparks courage in other elected officials who want to come out to colleagues or constituents.
“With just 15 openly LGBTQ elected officials in all of Georgia and just two openly LGBTQ Black men, Everton will be a unique and influential voice moving forward, and a relentless advocate for vulnerable students.
“We expect Everton’s decision will influence more LGBTQ people to come out in office and run for office – embodying the spirit of National Coming Out Day.”