Texas elects its first Black, out-gay man to office: Jalen McKee-Rodriguez

Jalen McKee-Rodriguez has been elected as councilman for District 2 in San Antonio, Texas. He is believed to be the first Black, out-gay man to win political office in the state.

The city council runoff election was held on Saturday. McKee-Rodriguez convincingly beat the incumbent, Jada Andrews-Sullivan, taking 63% of the vote to Andrews-Sullivan’s 37%.

”A lot of people said that District 2 wouldn’t be ready for a candidate like me,” McKee-Rodriguez, 26, told KSAT 12, “Would District 2 be ready for a young, gay candidate? Is Texas ready for a young, gay Black man to be elected anywhere into any position?

“I think what we proved and what the community proved is that everyone deserves representation. And if you have the right motives, if you have the right passions, and if you’re a good listener, the people will trust that.”

Related: Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres become first Black, openly-gay Congressmen

Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, 26, has worked for the past three years as a maths teacher at James Madison High School. He also runs the website, where he shares learning resources for students, usually in the form of fun and informative memes. He is also an LGBTQ activist and a former board member for Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio.

For six months in 2019, he also worked as a communications director for the woman he beat on Saturday.

McKee-Rodriguez resigned his staff position in late 2019 in Andrews-Sullivan’s office because of “retaliation” he says he faced after telling the councilwoman about issues with another staff member’s treatment toward him as an openly gay man, including the way he dressed.

Andrews-Sullivan subsequently acknowledged some management issues with an older member of her staff but denied this had anything to do with McKee-Rodriguez’s identity.

McKee-Rodriguez also took to social media in recent weeks to say he’s heard of local pastors on San Antonio’s East Side telling members of their congregation that a vote for him would be a “sin”. The pastors denied this, saying they’d encouraged people to vote for Andrews-Sullivan based only on her record as councilwoman.

Whilst campaigning, McKee-Rodriguez says his priorities if elected will be community safety, infrastructure, and protections for the working class.

Yesterday, when it became clear he’d definitely won, McKee-Rodriguez tweeted thanks to his husband, Nathan, his family and everyone who had helped secure his victory.

Related: Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta announces bid to be first out, Black U.S. Senator

Among those to congratulate McKee-Rodriguez was Pennsylvania Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta – a fellow Black, gay, Democrat lawmaker who is currently running to be a Senator. Kenyatta tweeted, “Happy Pride@ Congrats.”

McKee-Rodriguez was supported by the Victory Fund, which helps to raise funds for LGBTQ candidates.

In a statement, the Victory Fund’s President and CEO, Annise Parker, said, “Jalen shattered a lavender ceiling in Texas, and it came as right-wing state legislators target LGBTQ people and people of color with bigoted policies aimed at rallying their extremist political base.

“Jalen’s victory is a rejection of the homophobic and racist politicking so fashionable in Austin and it will inspire more LGBTQ Black leaders to run and win.”