Election 2020: Mobilizing the LGBTQ Digital Generation

by Kelsy Chauvin

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday October 30, 2020

Election 2020: Mobilizing the LGBTQ Digital Generation
  (Source:Drag Out the Vote)

New voters are imperative this year. If younger LGBTQ Americans transform their passions for issues like climate change, gun control, and racial and gender equality from social media likes into actual votes, voter-turnout records could be smashed in November.

A 2020 Tufts University CIRCLE study showed that in 20 states, youth voter (ages 18-24) registration is already higher than in November 2016. Hope is compounded by the highest young-voter turnout ever in the 2018 midterm elections, which swept Democratic champions like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (MI), Omar Ilhan (M.N.), and others into Congress.

Younger candidates also may be part of what inspires younger voters to cast ballots, which bodes well for 40-and-under contenders such as Mondaire Jones (N.Y.) and Ritchie Torres (N.Y.), two LGBTQ men of color running for Congress; as well as other LGBTQ candidates including Gina Ortiz Jones (TX), Sharice Davids (K.S.) and Chris Pappas (N.H.).

Initiatives like TikTok's Tok the Vote suggest that tens of millions of younger voters can find inspiration through apps and other online platforms. The campaign aims to help "get Gen-Z registered to vote" and to mobilize "the digital generation to initiate the next wave of change."

Meanwhile, Voto Latino is a grassroots organization devoted to educating and empowering a new generation of Latinx voters. Established in 2004, the group has amplified candidates' voices and registered 250,000 U.S. voters in 2020 alone. The organization reports that there are 32 million Latinx voters eligible to vote in 2020, 60 percent of whom are 34 or younger, and 12 million of whom voted in the 2018 election.

Equity Illinois is going viral for all the right reasons with an eye-catching campaign to encourage its state's residents to vote by mail.

#VoteNaked encourages Illinois residents to vote by mail as "the safest and most convenient way to participate in the election this November. It ensures nothing stops voters from making their voices heard by providing an opportunity to plan ahead and make sure their votes are cast before Election Day. Every Illinoisan can vote by mail to protect themselves and their community from the spread of COVID-19. And it's so easy to do from home, you can vote naked!"

Diversity and inclusion are driving forces behind other dynamic organizations like the National LGBTQ Task Force, and Drag Out the Vote.

The Task Force's Queer the Vote initiative is working to stop voter suppression, end partisan gerrymandering and restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated Americans.

Drag Out the Vote, while striking a fun and sparkly tone, is serious about its mission of educating, registering, and engaging "voters of all struts of life to sashay their way to the polls."

Author and activist Jackie Hula was inspired to launch the initiative after witnessing Phi Phi O'Hara's 2017 hurricane-relief benefit in Puerto Rico, and is harnessing "the power of drag to motivate voters."

For Dylan Austin, branding and communications strategist for Drag Out the Vote, 2020's foremost issues are interwoven within the queer community.

"The number one thing that should be on everyone's minds is how we face the opportunities of intersectionality in the LGBTQIA+ community," says Austin. "When we vote, we're voting for the rights of our trans brothers and sisters, for our BIPOC queer families who live as what you may call 'double minorities' in this country, for queer workplace protections, and access to gender-affirming healthcare.

"When we're voting, it's easy to think it's just for a candidate or party we align with, but it's so much more than that," he says. "Every vote from your city council to the president affects those things. Everything is interconnected."

Kelsy Chauvin is a writer, photographer and marketing consultant based in Brooklyn, New York. She specializes in travel, feature journalism, art, theater, architecture, construction and LGBTQ interests. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @kelsycc.


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