Until today, Florida has never had a lesbian run a city. By winning Tampa’s mayoral race, Jane Castor changed that trend. She headed into the election with a huge lead, and she maintained that lead on election night. As of 7:50 pm on April 23, Castor had 72.6% of the votes. She is now the first gay or lesbian mayor of Tampa, and the election is a major win for the LGBTQ community.
Who is Jane Castor?
Jane Castor is not new to the limelight. Prior to taking on politics, Castor was a police officer. She worked hard to create the city’s first LGBTQ police liaison program. In the 1990’s, a program of this type was uncommon in the south. She also tried to convince other officers to volunteer at Tampa’s first few pride parades and events.
Eventually, Castor became the first female police chief in the city of Tampa. She continued to provide support to minorities through programs and education. In the last five years, she was grand marshal of the Tampa Pride parade twice. She also had a positive impact on the people of Tampa. During her tenure as chief, crime in the city dropped by 70%.
Despite Castor’s history of standing up for the LGBTQ community, she didn’t make that her platform. In fact, Castor did not want her sexual orientation to be the focal point of her campaign. She told the Advocate that she wanted her tenure to show that “if you have the qualifications, work ethic and motivation, then you can do anything.”
Unfortunately, Castor plans to face some of the same challenges she faces as a police chief. If she makes a mistake, she predicts people will attribute her failure to her gender.
Castor ran on several key platforms, none of which related directly to the LGBTQ community. For one, she advocated for a safer city. Additionally, she cited the need for better transportation around the growing city. She also mentioned an intention to improve the local economy and rely more on sustainable energy.
Castor believes that her decades as a police chief gave her the skills and experience necessary to lead the city. However, she understands what her victory means for LGBT individuals.
The Significance of Being the First Lesbian Mayor of Tampa
Tampa’s mayoral election is a milestone for the gay community. Although discrimination against the community is still prevalent, this election shows that LGBTQ politicians cannot be ignored.
Castor is the only LGBTQ woman to lead a large city in the southeastern US. However, she isn’t the only lesbian to take on politics and succeed. In early April 2019, Lori Lightfoot won the mayoral race of Chicago. She was the first LGBTQ individual to be elected for mayor in the city. Satya Rhodes-Conway shared a similar honor after winning the mayoral race in Madison, Wisconsin.
The election results show a possible shift in the acceptance of LGBTQ individuals in politics. Furthermore, the lack of attacks against Castor’s sexuality also show a slight change in the way people look at the gay community. Castor claimed that she couldn’t remember any negative comments regarding her sexuality, apart from some “hateful emails.”
The political climate has shifted. Thanks to powerful figures like Jane Castor, LGBTQ youth now know that they can do anything.