Raymond Meza is running for congress, and if he’s elected her may become the first openly gay, Latinx congressman.
Meza is running in the special election for California’s 34th congressional district ahead of the current representative becoming the state attorney general.
The district, which includes a lot of downtown Los Angeles, is largely Democrat.
Meza is one of 23 candidates running in the primary that will be held on the 4th of April. The contestant pool includes 16 other Democrats, a former White House aide for President Barack Obama, the son of a former presidential candidate, an LA County deputy district attorney, and a state assemblyman.
The SEIU labour organiser has been working for economic justice since being in college, and believes he is the man for the job because the person in elected office shouldn’t just be an advocate, but someone who can speak from personal experience too.
Speaking to Teen Vogue, Meza explained that he was proud that the district “celebrated diversity”.
“One of the values I’m running on in this campaign is that this district celebrates diversity. That’s been really important to me,” he said. “I experienced that in a really personal way when I came out of the closet. People were taken aback, but I was never bullied or harassed.”
The political hopeful went on to explain that when he was in school nobody in politics represented him.
“When I was in high school, there was no one who looked like me and who was LGBTQ who was an elected official. Within LGBTQ media and TV, there was no one who looked like me,” he recalled.
“I think for LGBTQ youth, it shows you can do whatever your talent and ability give you. Your sexual orientation, your identity is not a barrier to that.”
Meza added that having representative people in politics was important to challenge bullying, as well as sending a message of hope for young people.
He said: “We will have someone in elected office who isn’t just an advocate, but is speaking from personal experience.”
“Someone who went through that uncomfortable challenge and the fear of retaliation or bullying. It sends a loud message to youth.”
Meza credited being Latinx and LGBT to his understanding of the political climate.
“It gives me a unique sense of our current political climate because this district is going to send a Democrat to Congress,” he said.
“All of us say the right things and vote the right way. It’s who has the experience of being able to involve people in the political process that can get people to care about things they never cared about before?”