In the upcoming Congressional elections, two openly gay candidates – Democrat Robert Zimmerman and Republican George Santos, are set for a historic faceoff in the third congressional district in New York. 

When the third congressional district goes to vote in the midterm elections along with the other 25 on November 8, 2022, it will create history with representatives from the LGBTQ community on both political sides, for the first time ever. 

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The LGBTQ Victory Fund, a political action committee in America dedicated to increasing LGBTQ presence in the political space, revealed that the number of members of the community contesting for state offices has gone up in 2022. From 1,006 in 2020, it now stands at 1,095. 

Zimmerman and Santos, however, have contrasting political views as is evident from their political sides. When it comes to the gender identity issue, Zimmerman has elaborated on his website on how living as a young closeted gay in the 1970s Long Island has shaped many of his political views. 

“I went to speak to an educator I trusted, and he suggested to me I try a doctor to make me better, because in those days, that was the path, conversion therapy,” he told in an interview with the LGBTQ  news outlet Washington Blade. 

“And I certainly didn’t do that, […] but I guess out that period, that sense of isolation, helped me to look at the world around me and see a lot of other folks who felt unseen and unheard, and it helped me find my voice that brought me to protest lines, brought me into political activism,” he added. 

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Santos, on the other hand, doesn’t give much importance to his gender and stays away from making it an issue in the elections. Speaking to the same news outlet, Santos said, “It’s great to see that opportunities are equal to all in this country. It’s always been that way. … So I don’t make it a campaign issue as far as I don’t campaign on that issue.” 

NBC reported that there are 11 members of the LGBTQ community in the US Congress and all of them are Democrats. If Santos is elected, he will be the first Republican gay member in Congress since Jim Kolbe.