No one can tell my story better than me. For that reason, I choose to share something very personal: I am a proud Black gay man.
I have always been open about who I am. However, I have not made it a habit to discuss my personal life publicly. I recognize this news may come as a surprise to some.
In light of rising homophobia and bias against the LGBTQ+ community, I feel it necessary for me to speak up. Also, as we inch closer to the June 21st Primary, I feel the weight of this moment and want to be as transparent as possible. I also have a responsibility to disrupt the systems that marginalize LGBTQ+ residents.
I remember a much younger Zach who didn’t have someone to affirm his identity. So I share this truth to affirm every Black boy needing a mirror, parents and guardians grappling with who their child is, and members of the LGBTQ+ community hoping for a reminder that we belong.
In my experience, the gay world mirrors our broader society, where being Black and gay is often “othered”. I see the changes I can help make and the equity I can help advance. That includes making our DC Council more representative.
Despite the Council being diverse in many ways and majority women, there are no gay Councilmembers serving today. Should Ward 5 voters elect me, I will serve as the only Councilmember, bringing a needed perspective, who is gay. I will continue to represent all Ward 5 residents and advocate for the issues that matter most to all.
There are community leaders and supporters who have encouraged me not to share this with you in recognition of the homophobia that is alive and well today. And I have not wanted to make my identity the centerpiece of my campaign. I’ve wanted to focus on the work and the issues, and I have consistently demonstrated that I will fight for bold policies that are needed to build a more just DC.
I often say that I do not know any better than Ward 5. And I mean it. With conviction and courage, I’m sharing this, fully confident that showing up as who I am — who I have always been — will not stop our movement from winning against the forces of the status quo in June. I’m confident that neighbors in our great Ward are bigger than division and bigotry.
Admittedly, I don’t love the term “coming out,” because it reinforces that gay people need to justify themselves. We do not expect any such announcement from straight people. I have always been me, but I recognize the importance of representation for our youth and the need for my community to have mirrors at all levels of government. Think of this as me choosing to share my full self with you.
I hope my sharing today brings hope and confirms for our youth the endless possibilities that exist for them, no matter who they are or who they love.