Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-12-13
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

ELECTIONS 2024 Illinois' first openly gay congressman isn't done yet: A conversation with Eric Sorensen
by Lu Calzada
2024-02-23

This article shared 10978 times since Fri Feb 23, 2024
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


A Rockford-born meteorologist, U.S. Rep. Eric Sorenson didn't plan on being a politician. But after seeing how his work in broadcasting impacted his viewers in both the Rockford and the Quad Cities areas, he wanted to take his service to northwest Illinois to the next level.

Sorensen came out while attending Northern Illinois University and enjoyed being out while in his broadcast jobs in Illinois, even taking an active role in the Quad Cities' LGBTQ community. His journey being out at work, however, was not always bright—he was fired from his first job in south Texas for being gay.

Sorenson, a Moline resident with his partner Shawn and two dogs, now represents Illinois District 17 and has held his position since 2023. He is the state's first openly gay congressman.

Windy City Times: How did you decide to go from your meteorologist role to running for Congress?

Eric Sorensen: I spent 22 years as a meteorologist and I always felt like I never worked for the TV station—I worked for the people who needed me. In 2021, we're going through a pandemic, we don't have enough people speaking truth to science, [and] my congresswoman was retiring. I was one of the few [meteorologists] in the country that was talking about climate on a regular basis, and how it was affecting my community. I was seeing all this hurtful and horrible LGBTQ+ legislation, and it hit me. My hometown of Rockford doesn't need another politician, [they] need someone to help guide them to make good decisions.

WCT: Being in your role as the first gay congressman from Illinois, how has your identity affected the things that are important to you in Congress?

ES: We have to choose to either sit at the table or be on the menu, and I choose to sit at the table. I want to make it a little bit uncomfortable to [these Republicans] because of who I am. We need to make sure that we're doing everything, so that there's representation here. That's why I'm so stoked for Sarah McBride running for Congress in Delaware … I think about what will happen when she's sitting at the table.

I'm really in a 50/50 seat that could go either way [in the upcoming election], and I'm cognizant that ,being a freshman, especially in the minority here in Congress, it's really hard to get the legislation through that we need. I want to see the Equality Act passed and I'm also a supporter of the Pride in Mental Health Act. I think back to, "How did I need help as a kid?" We need to make sure that the mental health crisis among LGBTQ youth is taken care of, and here in Congress I have the ability to support that.

WCT: Coming from a state like Illinois where there are strong legal protections for LGBTQ people, how do you feel in D.C. surrounded by different types of Congresspeople from all over?

ES: I think it shows what we need to work for, [and] why we need to fight. I get emotional sometimes when the Speaker of the House will put up some anti-trans legislation on the floor of the House of Representatives, and the other side will cheer when they pass some hateful legislation. Sometimes I walk out and walk down the 50 steps of the Capitol and I wonder what would happen if we were protesting every day. Where are the rainbow flags? Where's the trans flag? I feel a little bit alone when I'm walking down those steps after that happens, and I know when I talk to the other LGBTQ members of Congress that they feel the same way.

The good news is the Equality Caucus is the largest caucus in Congress, so that means there is an incredible amount of support. I'm cognizant that if we don't fight for our rights, there's a really significant risk they'll go away—and how hard will it be to fight to get them back. I think it's a much easier fight to stand up today and keep them.

WCT: Some of your main focuses are sustainable jobs and agriculture, and you're on different committees such as Agriculture and Science, Space, and Technology. Was that inspired by your meteorological background?

ES: I applied to two committees. One that I could bring my talents [to] as somebody who studied weather and communicated climate [to viewers], and [also] believes in resiliency and sustainability. And also, I have the honor of being the congressman for the hometown of John Deere. There's a storied history of agriculture [in my district] and at the heart of it, our farmers want to do what's right. They just need some guidance, and that guidance needs to be from sound science. Agriculture is most important to the district and science is where I can bring my background.

WCT: What has your experience been like in Congress trying to get things passed, or dealing with challenges while fighting to tell the truth about science and climate, especially in a government that often does not want to listen?

ES: I don't necessarily use the word "climate" very often. But, we have to understand that there's more frequent extreme weather. How are we adapting to the extreme weather, whether it's bigger hurricanes happening [more quickly], heavier rain, bigger storms, more tornadoes and increasing temperature in the Arctic and Antarctic?

My district borders the Mississippi River. We have floods; we're going to need better protection against those floods, [which] helps out our farmers. In those ways, I can get someone like Congresswoman Mary Miller, who's on the very far right fringes, and we can come together and say, "Hey, we're both going to support this resiliency bill." I didn't have to talk to her about climate. I just had to talk to her about helping our farmers. Those are the ways we're really making a difference.

Eventually, we're going to need to make sure we have the technology available for our electric grid. As renewable [energy is] locked into the system … right now the system doesn't allow us to utilize all of the power efficiently, so we're going to have to fix that and that's Congress' job.

WCT: You're up for reelection in the coming year, what are the future things on your radar? What are the major issues you're focusing on for your platform for reelection?

ES: I think a lot back to my seventh grade math teacher. I said, "Well aren't you going to give me credit [for the correct answer]?" She said, "No .. you didn't show me your work." I think about that a lot. I don't want the people in my district or my state to think I'm deserving of their vote "just because," I want them to know I'm deserving of their vote because I'm doing the work. There's too many people in Washington today that are either here for the wrong reasons or they're just here for themselves.


This article shared 10978 times since Fri Feb 23, 2024
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Legislation to increase HIV testing, Linkage to Care Act passes Illinois House with bipartisan vote of 106 2024-04-20
--From a press release - SPRINGFIELD — Thursday night, House Bill 5417, the Connection to HIV Testing and Linkage to Care Act, or the HIV TLC Act, championed by State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) passed the Illinois House of Representatives with ...


Gay News

WORLD Nigeria arrest, Chilean murderer, trans ban, Olivier Awards, marriage items 2024-04-19
- Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission's (EFCC's) decision to arrest well-known transgender woman Idris Okuneye (also known as Bobrisky) over the practice of flaunting money has sparked questions among several ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Ohio law blocked, Trevor Project, Rev. Troy Perry, ICE suit, Elon Musk 2024-04-19
- In Ohio, Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael Holbrook temporarily blocked a Republican-backed state law banning gender-affirming care (such as puberty blockers and hormones) for transgender minors from ...


Gay News

BOOKS Frank Bruni gets political in 'The Age of Grievance' 2024-04-18
- In The Age of Grievance, longtime New York Times columnist and best-selling author Frank Bruni analyzes the ways in which grievance has come to define our current culture and politics, on both the right and left. ...


Gay News

Hunter leads resolution declaring April 2024 as Minority Health Month 2024-04-18
--From a press release - SPRINGFIELD — To raise awareness about the importance of cardiovascular health, particularly among minority communities, State Senator Mattie Hunter passed a resolution declaring April 2024 as Minority Health Month in ...


Gay News

Supreme Court allows Idaho ban on gender-affirming care for minors 2024-04-18
- The U.S. Supreme Court has granted a request by Republican Idaho Attorney General Raul Labrador to lift a lower court's temporary injunction preventing the state from enforcing its felony ban on gender-affirming care for minors, The ...


Gay News

City Council passes Lesbian Visibility Week proclamation 2024-04-17
- Chicago alderwomen Maria Hadden (49th) and Jessie Fuentes (26th) introduced a resolution at Chicago's April 17 City Council meeting to declare April 22-28 as Lesbian Visibility Week in Chicago. This is part of a nationwide effort ...


Gay News

Morrison to run for Cook County clerk (UPDATED) 2024-04-17
- Openly gay Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison has decided to run for the Cook County clerk position that opened following Karen Yarbrough's death, according to Politico Illinois Playbook. Playbook added that Morrison also wants to run ...


Gay News

Q FORCE launches 2024 election efforts in Chicago 2024-04-14
- More than 100 people attended the launch of 2024 election efforts by Q FORCE Midwest Action Group at Sidetrack April 12. Q FORCE is a Chicago-based, all-volunteer, grassroots movement organizing to recruit and activate "at least ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Trans woman killed, Tenn. law, S. Carolina coach, Evan Low, Idaho schools 2024-04-12
- Twenty-four-year-old Latina trans woman and makeup artist Meraxes Medina was fatally shot in Los Angeles, according to the website them, citing The Los Angeles Times. Authorities told the Times they found Medina's broken fingernail and a ...


Gay News

LPAC, Arizona LGBTQ officials denounce Arizona Supreme Court ruling on abortion 2024-04-10
--From a press release - Washington, DC — Yesterday, in a decision that starkly undermines reproductive freedoms, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled to enforce a 160-year-old law that criminalizes abortion and penalizes healthcare providers who ...


Gay News

Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison announces inaugural Cook County LGBTQ+ Youth Art Competition 2024-04-10
--From a press release - Schaumburg, Ill. — April 9, 2024 — Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison recently announced the firs ever LGBTQ+ Youth Art Competition. The competition's theme is "Pride is Power!" and will set the ton for Pride celebrations ...


Gay News

For Deb Robertson, the end-of-life issue is very real 2024-04-07
- For just about everyone, life is hard enough. However, talking about ending that life—especially when one is terminally ill—is just as difficult. Ten states have authorized medical aid in dying, although Illinois is not one of ...


Gay News

KFF survey shows extent of LGBT-related discrimination 2024-04-07
- KFF—an independent source of health policy research, polling and journalism—released "LGBT Adults' Experiences with Discrimination and Health Care Disparities: Findings from the KFF Survey of Racism, Discrimination, and Health." This ...


Gay News

Lightfoot may be hired to investigate Dolton mayor, trustees 2024-04-06
- A group of Dolton trustees is aiming to hire former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot—who is also an ex-federal prosecutor—to investigate Mayor Tiffany Henyard, media outlets reported. The group wants Lightfoot ...


 


Copyright © 2024 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.