Can a Gay Veteran Latina Sheriff Get Texas to Vote?
In another life, Texas gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez would be my tía. Talking to her on the phone late last week reminded me of my conversations with family; the accent was just right; the sense of humor was perfect; and the penchant for story-telling was spot-on. And she had wonderful stories to share while driving to a campaign stop in San Antonio, like this one regarding her first time attending services at the queer-inclusive Metropolitan Community Church:
I heard through the TV and the newspaper about MCC and thought, ‘I have got to go to that church!’ I drove around once or twice before I had the courage to go in. It was Easter Sunday, and it was so packed that they had to put me in the back. I remember the row behind me went up to take Communion, and it all just hit me as I was watching that. I said, ‘Oh my God, where have you been?’ I didn’t mean to say it out loud, but the person in front of me turned and said, “We’ve been here waiting for you.” The connection was really strong. I was there as a lesbian, and God was there, too.
The First Latina Lesbian Sheriff of Texas
Much like my father, she, too, grew up in a migrant family. As she reminisced about her days in the fields, I could see a very young Lupe bouncing about the corn fields, completely oblivious to the historic life she’d lead decades down the road. And it is historic: the first Latina and the first out lesbian to serve as sheriff in the state (which she did for 12 years). Even one of those identities would be seen as a complete shock to the political system that favors white affluent men, like current Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. He’s the idiot who pushed hard to further endanger undocumented immigrants and transgender state residents through his proposed policies.
The septuagenarian clearly has the energy to take on the right-wingers looking to dominate Texas politics, and I’m incredibly excited by that. No matter the outcome, Valdez has forever changed what’s possible for LGBTQ Latinos.
Read MORE of my piece on VICE.com