dishin' it

John Fredrickson on his historic candidacy in Nebraska, his love of Dunkaroos, and playing elf dress up

Photo credit: Abiola Kosoko

Meet John Fredrickson. He’s a mental health professional currently running to represent District 20 in the Nebraska Legislature. If he wins in November, he will be the second openly-LGBTQ person, and first openly gay man, ever elected to his state’s Senate.

After growing up in Omaha, John moved to New York for college, where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from NYU and a Master’s degree from Columbia University. That’s also where he met his husband, Jeff. After adopting their son, Leon, in 2019, the guys decided to relocate back to John’s hometown in 2020. And last October, he announced his candidacy for Nebraska State Senate.

“My decision to run for office was born out of my work as a therapist, becoming a parent, and having a strong desire to have a positive impact on the future of Nebraska,” he says. “Divisive rhetoric over the past few years has inspired me to work in Nebraska to ensure we are a welcoming, inclusive state.”

Queerty had a chance to catch up with John in our rapid-fire Q&A series, Dishin’ It. In our conversation below, he shares the story of how he met his husband, his favorite thing to do on a Saturday night, why being LGBTQ enhances his candidacy for Nebraska Legislature, and his lifelong love of Dunkaroos.

 

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What’s the gayest thing about you?

I am unapologetically myself and celebrate my family’s authenticity in all that I do. I’m so grateful every single day to be a member of this community.

You recently attended Omaha Pride and marched in the parade. What is your ultimate Pride anthem?

There are so many that it’s honestly hard to choose one! I love a good Britney, Beyoncé, or Lady Gaga track. Diana Ross and the Weather Girls never disappoint. I also really feel like “Losing You” by Solange needs to be a Pride anthem, so I’m just going to put that out into the universe.

It’s Saturday night. The dishes are washed. The kid’s asleep. You don’t have any campaign events in the morning. What do you do?

Have I been transported into a utopia? That sounds incredible. I would love to say something exciting and over the top, but if I’m being honest, I open a bottle of wine with my husband and watch something on Netflix. I may or may not fall asleep 10 minutes into the show. We just finished Love, Victor, which was adorable.

Speaking of your husband, the two of you are the cutest couple ever. How did you guys meet and was it love at first sight?

This is actually a pretty funny story. We were living in New York at the time, and my sister was working at a startup with one of Jeff’s close friends from college. The two of them kept telling us both, separately, that we had to meet, but we kept missing opportunities. That December, my sister and I hosted a holiday party (we were living together at the time). Everyone was all dressed to the nines in their holiday party attire, and I of course decided to dress up as an elf. Jeff came as the guest of his friend, spotted the tall elf in the middle of the room, and as they say, the rest is history….

 

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I gotta ask… Do you have a picture of the elf costume?

I do not have a photo of the elf costume. This was back before we took photos of everything on our phones. 🙂

How does being LGBTQ enhance your candidacy in the race for Nebraska Legislature?

Any time you have a lived experience that is perceived as “different” it allows for increased self-awareness and perspective on what society has always accepted as “normal.” I think this is a key ingredient in making sustainable, meaningful change. My campaign is about building a Nebraska for all, not just a select few. Our state motto is “equality before the law” and my lived experience has taught me how important this is for all of us.

Is there a piece of pop culture—whether a movie, TV series, book, album, etc…—that you consider a big part of your coming out journey? Why does it stand out to you?

I initially came out in college, which is such a developmentally significant time. I was living in New York for school and I recall for the first time knowingly seeing queer folks proudly be their full, authentic selves. Shows like Rent certainly influenced me, as well as Call Me By Your Name – the book, before it was a film.

Tell me something about your youth that dates you.

I’m somehow still alive after consuming an impressive (concerning?) amount of Dunkaroos.

Who is a queer politician/activist/leader that you think is doing really amazing work right now? Why are they someone we should all be paying attention to?

There is so much strength, resilience, and beauty coming out of the queer community right now. Folks like Janelle Monáe, Malcolm Kenyatta and Megan Hunt show the world that we are a powerful community and to be unapologetically ourselves.

 

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