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A rainbow wave is on the move in the Buckeye State as election day gets closer

Posted at 11:17 AM, Oct 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-25 11:17:18-04

The November midterm elections are now just a few weeks away and chances are pretty good you've heard people talking about blue and red waves. But in Ohio, a rainbow wave is moving across the Buckeye State.

"I did not have a lot of role models for people who ran as an openly gay candidate," said State Rep. Nickie Antonio.

Since jumping into politics in 2005, Antonio has become that beacon. Antonio is the first openly gay person ever elected to the Ohio legislature. 

Her journey has been a bit bumpy. 

"They were trying very hard to let people know that there was something different about me," Antonio said.

But unlike when she first ran, Antonio now finds herself with plenty of company.

"I think we should be judged from the LGBTQ community as any other candidate for office by the merit of our work," said Antonio. 

Antonio is one of 11 LGBTQ political candidates on the ballot in Ohio this November.

"This is the first time we have an open transgender candidate running for office as well," said Mya Simek, who is with Equality Ohio.

According to Simek, the fight for equal rights is prompting a rainbow wave.

"In 2017 alone there were over 120 anti-LGBTQ bills that were released across the country," said Simek.

For those who've stepped up to serve there have been challenges.

"Everything from death threats to negative commentary on public social media," said Simek.

It's that environment that Simek believes may keep some politicians in the closet despite making significant progress this election cycle.

"We're going to see that people are not able to be out and be themselves when they are running on these platforms because it's still not safe," said Simek.

Other politicians, like Antonio, are facing the threats head-on.

"It's kind of the equivalent of no one puts Baby in the corner. I am not a second-class citizen. I refuse to accept that," said Antonio.

Antonio said members of the LGBTQ community understand what it's like to be marginalized, have their voices silenced, and yet they still find the strength and courage to push forward.

"If we want to make a change, if we want our voices to be heard, we have to be participants," Antonio said.

Antonio's voice comes with something she's learned from her life experiences and time in politics.

"We bring a special kind of service to public policy, a special kind of understanding and perspective that I think is sorely needed right now," Antonio said. "What serves all of us and what will improve things for all of us lifts us all up."