By Sebastian Fortino
PHILADELPHIA — State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta has received the Victory Institute’s Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award, which honors an “up-and-coming state or local LGBTQ elected official whose promising political career will move equality forward.”
The nominees this year were Kenyatta, Delaware State Senator-elect Sarah McBride, Oklahoma State Representative-elect Mauree Turner, Colorado State Rep. Leslie Herod, Arizona State Rep. César Chávez, and Mexican Congresswoman Ana Lucía Riojas Martínez.
“I can’t overstate how meaningful it is to receive this prestigious award from Victory Institute. To be nominated alongside so many leaders I personally look up to was an honor in and of itself,” Kenyatta shared with the public upon winning the award.
Kenyatta, who represents Philadelphia’s 181st District, was featured as a keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention this past summer.
In October, he conducted his “Flip PA Blue” tour throughout the Commonwealth in which he met with Democratic candidates and encouraged people to take an interest in local politics. And he has been a strong advocate for voting rights and a vocal critic of Republicans who have baselessly challenged the integrity of the 2020 election.
Victory Institute President Annise Parker, who served as the first LGBTQ mayor of Houston from 2010 to 2016 and was one of the first openly gay mayors of a major city in the United States, lauded Kenyatta’s leadership.
“Malcolm is tireless in his advocacy for LGBTQ equality but also equality for other marginalized communities in Pennsylvania,” Parker told PGN. “He has given some of the most impassioned House floor speeches of the last few years, and our community recognizes his ability to inspire and mobilize. He truly is a rising star among our LGBTQ elected officials nationwide and is well-deserving of the award.”
Fellow nominee McBride also praised Kenyatta’s win.
“It was an honor to be nominated for the Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award alongside such incredible public servants. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award than this year’s honoree, Malcolm Kenyatta,” McBride said. “I’ve known Rep. Kenyatta for years and am in awe of his compassion, brilliance, and passion in everything he does. He’s an inspiring leader and I cannot wait to see what he does next.”
The other nominees have made waves in politics and the LGBTQ community just as Kenyatta has. McBride will become the first transgender state senator in the country; Chávez is an out gay man who emigrated from Mexico as a boy; Herod is the first LGBTQ woman of color elected to the Colorado legislature; Turner is the first non-binary and Muslim person elected in Oklahoma; and Martínez is a longtime LGBTQ activist.
“Each of us, no matter our field of endeavor, has a responsibility to break barriers and kick down doors for those who follow,” Kenyatta concluded. He takes inspiration from the legacy of his late mother. “I see this award as a reminder of that duty, first assigned by my mother: ‘if you care so much, go do something about it.’ I promise mom, I’ll never stop.”
Sebastian Fortino is a reporter for the Philadelphia Gay News, where this story first appeared.