Fabien Nelson, Mississippi

Fabian Nelson Makes History As First Openly Gay Democratic Lawmaker Elected In Mississippi

Mississippi is making some much-needed changes.

Fabian Nelson (D-MS) was elected as the first openly gay Democratic lawmaker in the state, NBC News reports. The race to represent the House district in the south Jackson metro area happened after neither Nelson, 38, nor his opponent, Tougaloo College education professor and Alderwoman Roshunda Harris-Allen received a majority vote in the primary election on Aug. 8. During the Democratic primary election runoff on Aug. 29, Nelson claimed victory over Allen.

The realtor from Byram, Mississippi, will be sworn in before the upcoming January legislative session. Nelson describes his win as a dream, as this has been his goal since a visit to the U.S. Capitol building in elementary school. “I still think I’m in a dream. I’m still trying to process it and take it in,” Nelson said. “It’s still shocking to me, I have to be honest.”

The Human Rights Campaign has endorsed Nelson as the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ advocacy group. Rob Hill, state director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Mississippi chapter, says Nelson’s win sends a much-needed message. “It sends a real message in a time when we are seeing attacks legislatively and through violence against the LGBTQ+ community that the majority of people reject that kind of animus,” Hill said.

“I think a lot of youth around the state who have felt like their leaders are rejecting them or targeting them won’t feel as lonely today.”

Nelson will represent a district including part of Byram, Salem, and Terry. While in office, he plans to increase healthcare access for low-income people by pushing for Medicaid expansion, according to the Associated Press. He says he is grateful for the votes but ultimately believes he won based on his ties to the community. “At the end of the day, I put my suit on the same way every other person who walks in that statehouse does,” Nelson said.

“I’m going to walk in there, and I’m going to be a sound voice as to why things like this can’t continue to go on in the state of Mississippi.”