The first openly gay Congressional candidate from Central Texas spoke to students at Ellison High School on Thursday.
Louie Minor, a Belton native and Iraq war veteran is running in District 31 against six-time elected incumbent John Carter. He spent about an hour after school at a meeting for Ellison’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Club to talk to students about getting involved in the political process and answer their questions.
He said he found it important to speak to the students even though many are not old enough to vote.
Media wasn’t allowed to attend the event, but Minor was available afterward to share his thoughts.
“I told them, ‘You’re the future. You’re the future of Texas — future leaders, future voters — and I want to let you know you’re important. Get involved now, don’t wait until you’re 18 and able to vote.’”
Minor said he shared with students how to get involved and support campaigns, such as his, even without voting.
David Bass, co-sponsor of Ellison’s LGBT Club, said Minor is a fantastic role model for students.
“The visit was wonderful and the students loved it. I think it is an experience they will never forget,” he said.
The club’s monthly meetings are held in his classroom, with the librarian bringing homemade chocolate chip cookies for this special event.
Students also had lots of questions he said, that seemed to relate to where they are in their lives now: How did he come out; How does his family feel about it; What is it like being gay in the military?
“Even some of the teachers asked about being gay in a conservative area,” said Minor, who became openly gay at age 26. “I told the kids, ‘Everyone sitting here, you’re the brave ones. I know for a fact when I was in high school, I wouldn’t have been a member of that.
“I was ashamed of who I was. I was hiding who I was. But who’s to say; maybe if I did have an organization like that I might have realized I’m not the only one. There’s strength in numbers.”
Bass said the students were able to connect with Minor.
“Louie explained that the most important thing in his family is love and his parents accept who he is,” Bass said. “This was a very encouraging and positive answer for our LGBT students.”
If elected, Minor would be the first openly gay veteran in Congress. He also would be the first openly gay Hispanic in Congress. There are currently six members of the House of Representatives who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual.
Minor also emphasized to the students to be defined by more than just sexual orientation. “I’m a public servant. I have been my entire life. ... Don’t be defined by sexuality; be defined by what you do and what you stand for.”
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Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here. You can contact Rose L. Thayer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.