Irish-American Democrat makes history as first out lesbian US Governor

Maura Healey, the new Governor of Massachusetts, is the granddaughter of Kerry and Cork emigrants.

Maura Healey celebrating her election as Governor of Massachusetts.
Image: Twitter: @maura_healey

As the results of the 2022 US midterm elections continue to emerge, LGBTQ+ candidates have been responsible for a number of historical firsts. One particular success story capturing the eyes of Irish onlookers is that of Maura Healey, the granddaughter of Kerry and Cork emigrants who has become the first out lesbian to be elected Governor of a US state.

The 51 year-old Democrat defeated Geoff Diehl in the race to become Governor of Massachusetts, with the official announcement coming on November 8. Her Republican opponent was hand-picked and endorsed by Donald Trump, and in debates leading up to the election, the two candidates clashed over the former US President, as well as topics such as abortion, the economy and immigration.

Not only is Healey the first openly lesbian Governor of a US state, she is also the first female governor of Massachusetts, putting an end to a centuries-long tradition of white male political dominance. Speaking after her victory, the trailblazer wrote on Twitter: “To every little girl out there, we want you to know – there’s no ceiling you can’t break.”

Similarly, when addressing her supporters in Boston, she said that her victory was for “every little girl and every young LGBTQ person out there”.

“I hope tonight shows you that you can be whatever, whoever you want to be,” she continued. “And nothing and no one can ever get in your way except your own imagination, and that’s not going to happen.”

Maura Healey grew up in New Hampshire, and is a former professional basketball player turned civil rights lawyer. Her great-grandmother, Katherine Tracy, was a native of Ballinasloe, Co. Galway, and her paternal grandparents, Jeremiah and Margaret Healey, hail from Kilgarvan, Co. Kerry and Macroom, Co. Cork.

She remains proud of her Irish roots, and in reference to her grandparents, she explained: “They came to this country under difficult circumstances, fleeing real poverty in Ireland, and real depression, a difficult hard situation, and they worked so hard.”

The lesbian governor added that she was raised under “their principles and their values”, and she “learned a lot growing up about taking care of family, taking care of those who need an advocate, those who need help.”

Throughout her campaign, she met as many voters in person as possible. “You know I’m Irish… I love talking to people, listening to people, and meeting people and this has been a great way to be able to do that across the state,” she commented.

Maura Healey is not the only LGBTQ+ candidate to make history in the 2022 US midterm elections. Becca Balint became Vermont’s first woman and out queer person to be elected to Congress, winning the state’s only House seat.

On a local level, New Hampshire became the first-ever state to elect a Trans man to its state legislature. James Roesener, a bisexual Democrat, won the seat for the state’s 22nd House District, Ward 8.

Current Mayor of Long Beach, Robert Garcia, has made history as the first out gay immigrant to be elected to congress. The Democrat and Peru native won the US House seat in California’s 42nd Congressional District.

Two men, Christian Manuel-Hayes and Venton Jones, have together become the first out Black queer men to be elected to the Texas state legislature. Similarly, Jason Hoskins has become the first out LGBTQ+ person of colour to be elected to Michigan’s state legislature.

Overall, Democrats have performed better in the elections than pundits had predicted, but, at the time of writing this, it remains unclear which party holds the majority in the House and the Senate.

© 2022 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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