“LGBTQ+ Victory Fund is pleased to present you with our fourth annual Out on the Trail report – which analyzes the number and diversity of out LGBTQ+ candidates who ran for office in 2023. As politicians in state legislatures and on school boards levied unprecedented attacks on our community and our kids, LGBTQ+ leaders responded, running for office in record numbers. We saw more LGBTQ+ candidates of color, trans candidates, nonbinary candidates and bisexual candidates than in any other election year. And in November, more odd-year voters than ever before will receive a ballot with the name of an LGBTQ+ candidate.”
–Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ+ Victory Fund
2023 Overview & Key Findings
At least 514 out LGBTQ+ people ran or are running for offices with elections in 2023, a 19.5 percent increase compared to the last odd-numbered election cycle in 2021, when 430 out candidates ran, and a 34.6 percent increase from 2019, when 382 ran. Of the 514 candidates, 312 will be on the ballot in November, a 31.6 percent increase from 2021.
The 2023 findings compare data from 2019 and 2021 because both were “off-year” odd-numbered election cycles, a more relevant comparison point than 2020 or 2022, which were presidential and midterm years when significantly more positions were up for election.
Among the findings:
- The number of genderqueer and nonbinary candidates has grown dramatically – from five in 2019 to 37 in 2023;
- Transgender women candidates increased by 15.4 percent between 2021 and 2023 (from 26 to 30), but the number of transgender men candidates decreased slightly (from six to four);
- Between the 2019 and 2023 election cycles, LGBTQ+ cisgender women candidates grew at a much faster rate than LGBTQ+ cisgender men candidates (40.8 percent and 21.7 percent, respectively);
- 32.9 percent of LGBTQ+ candidates who ran or are running in 2023 are people of color, a 46.6 percent increase from 2019 but just an 11.6 percent increase from 2021;
- Latinx LGBTQ+ candidates grew by 40 percent from 2021 (from 40 to 56), while the number of Black LGBTQ+ candidates and Asian/Pacific Islander LGBTQ+ candidates decreased slightly;
- Bisexual candidates more than tripled from 2019 to 2023 (from 24 to 74) and increased by 76.2 percent compared to 2021;
- Lesbian candidates increased by 18.3 percent from the 2021 to 2023 election cycle (from 60 to 71), after seeing an overall decline between 2019 and 2021;
- The number of out LGBTQ+ state legislative candidates more than doubled between 2021 and 2023 (from 19 to 40);
- 59 LGBTQ+ candidates ran or are running for school boards in 2023;*
- More than nine in 10 LGBTQ+ candidates are Democrats and 1.9 percent are Republicans;
- LGBTQ+ candidates ran or are running in 41 states and the District of Columbia.
* In 2019 and 2021 data, Victory Fund did not separate school board candidates from local candidates.
or more LGBTQ+ people ran for office in 2023
increase in LGBTQ+ candidates compared to 2021
or more LGBTQ+ candidates will be on the ballot in November 2023
Race & Ethnicity of LGBTQ+ Candidates in 2023
LGBTQ+ candidates of color ran in greater numbers than in any odd-numbered election year in history – at least 164 – a 46.4 percent* increase from 2019. Yet the pace of growth slowed substantially between 2021 and 2023, with just an 11.6 percent increase between those two election cycles. More Black LGBTQ+ candidates ran than any other non-white racial and ethnic group, however the number of Black LGBTQ+ decreased between 2021 and 2023 by 8.2 percent. The number of LGBTQ+ Asian/Pacific Islander candidates also decreased slightly during between 2021 and 2023, although just five ran in 2019 and 10 ran in 2023. Latinx LGBTQ+ candidates increased by 40 percent between 2021 and 2023, from 40 to 56.
of LGBTQ+ candidates were people of color
of LGBTQ+ candidates were Black
of LGBTQ+ candidates were Latinx
of LGBTQ+ candidates were AAPI
* Of the 514 LGBTQ candidates identified in 2023, LGBTQ Victory Fund was able to verify the race or ethnicity for 498 of them. In 2022, it was 1,019 of 1,065; in 2021, 408 of 410; in 2020, 780 of 1006; in 2019, 341 of 382; and in 2018, 588 of 716. All graphs and percentages are based on candidates for whom this information was known.
** According to U.S. Census data from July 2021.
Sexual Orientation of LGBTQ+ Candidates in 2023
Bisexual candidates saw the most dramatic proportional growth among LGBTQ+ candidates, more than tripling in number between 2019 and 2023 (from 24 to 74). Pansexual and queer candidates saw among the largest increases among sexual orientations* — 137.5 percent and 152 percent, respectively, between 2019 and 2023.
of LGBTQ+ candidates are bisexual
of LGBTQ+ candidates are lesbian
of LGBTQ+ candidates are queer
of LGBTQ+ candidates are pansexual
* Of the 514 LGBTQ candidates identified in 2023, Victory Fund was able to determine the exact sexual orientation for 494 of them. In 2022, it was 975 of 1,065; in 2021, 380 of 410; in 2020, 764 of 1006; in 2019, 351 of 382; and in 2018, 602 of 716. All graphs and percentages are based on candidates for whom this information was known.
Sex and Gender of LGBTQ+ Candidates in 2023
Eighty candidates identified as something other than cisgender* – dramatic growth from the 28 who ran in 2019. The number of genderqueer and/or nonbinary candidates grew by 640 percent in those years – with 37 running in 2023.** Trans women candidates increased from 17 in 2019 to 26 in 2023 – a 52.9 percent increase – however trans men candidates grew from just three to four. Cisgender men remained the majority – representing 55 percent of all LGBTQ+ candidates – although their growth was slowest of all gender identities (21.7 percent between 2019 and 2023).
of LGBTQ+ candidates were not cisgender
of LGBTQ+ candidates are transgender women
of LGBTQ+ candidates are transgender men
of LGBTQ+ candidates are cisgender women
* Of the 410 LGBTQ candidates identified in 2021, Victory Fund was able to determine the exact gender identity and expression for 407 of them. In 2022, it was 1,026 of 1,065; in 2021, 407 of 410; in 2020, 782 of 1006; in 2019, 359 of 382; and in 2018, 637 of 716. All graphs and percentages are based on candidates for whom this information was found.
** Previously Victory Fund categorized the identities of genderqueer and nonbinary together as “genderqueer/nonbinary.” In 2023, Victory Fund modified gender identity categories to include: “genderqueer/nonbinary,” “nonbinary” and “trans nonbinary.” All three are included in the 640 percent growth.
LGBTQ+ Candidates by State & Position in 2023
LGBTQ+ candidates ran in 41 states and the District of Columbia. States that had zero out LGBTQ+ candidates were: Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, New Mexico, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Of the 514 candidates who ran, 348 (70.4 percent) ran for local positions (excluding mayors and school boards), 59 (11.9 percent) for school board, 40 (8.1 percent) for state legislature, 37 for mayor (7.5 percent), five (1 percent) for judicial positions, four (0.8 percent) for federal special elections, and one (0.2 percent) for statewide races. Between 2021 and 2023, the number of LGBTQ+ state legislative candidates more than doubled – from 19 to 40 – at a time when legislative attacks on LGBTQ+ people in state legislatures have grown dramatically.
increase in LGBTQ+ state legislative candidates between 2021 and 2023
LGBTQ+ candidates ran for school board positions
LGBTQ+ candidates ran for mayor
LGBTQ+ candidates ran for local positions, not including mayor and school board positions
LGBTQ+ Candidates by Party in 2023
As in previous years, the vast majority of LGBTQ+ candidates ran as Democrats, with just 1.9 percent running as Republicans.
of LGBTQ+ candidates are Democrats
of LGBTQ+ candidates are Republicans
of LGBTQ+ candidates are Independents
of LGBTQ+ candidates are non-partisan
2023 Victory Fund Endorsed Candidates
LGBTQ+ Victory Fund endorsed 259 out LGBTQ+ candidates in 2023 and 156 will appear on the general election ballot in November.