State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, the first Black gay state legislator in Pennsylvania, gave the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, along with 16 other “rising stars.” Two other gay legislators, Georgia State Rep. Sam Park and Robert Garcia, mayor of Long Beach, California, also participated in the keynote. The three are the first gay people to give a keynote address at the DNC.
Other speakers during the keynote included Pennsylvania Congressman Brendan Boyle, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. The 17 spoke about why they ran for office, what they fight for, and why Joe Biden should be elected President.
“In a democracy, we do not elect saviors,” Abrams said, “we cast our ballots for those who see our struggles and pledge to serve, who hear our dreams and work to make them real, who defend our way of life by protecting our right to vote. Faced with a President of cowardice, Joe Biden is a man of proven courage.”
Kenyatta’s fiancée, Matthew Miller, also made an appearance during the keynote.
“When I wanted to marry the man I loved,” Kenyatta said, sitting next to Miller, “Joe Biden was the first national figure to support me and my family.”
Earlier in the day, Kenyatta addressed the DNC’s LGBTQ caucus. A record number of LGBTQ delegates were elected in 2020.
“Everything America says about ourself,” Kenyatta said to the caucus, “this idea of freedom and justice and equality under the law, so many of these notions were ratified and written right here in Philadelphia on a hot summer much like this one. But our challenge is that we have never fully lived up to that promise of America. That’s why, when Joe Biden launched his campaign on the parkway here in Philadelphia, he talked about fighting for the soul of the nation. And I know some folks said ‘that sounds a little cheesy.’ But it is deadly serious. Who are we gonna be? And that’s what this election is going to determine.”
Kenyatta called out President Trump for his opposition to the Equality Act, his barring trans service members from the military, and particularly his inability to manage the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are sitting here right now, on a Zoom call, instead of all being together in Milwaukee, because of his complete inability to manage this crisis. His complete and utter lack of competence. And not only does he not know anything, but he gets rid of everyone around him who actually knows something. That is not the mark of the type of leader that we need moving forward.”
Kenyatta, an early supporter of Joe Biden, touted the Democratic nominees ability to listen to people and adapt accordingly.
“I think that ability for a leader to listen has something we have completely underrated as we go through the process of choosing chief executives and choosing elected officials at all levels of government.”
The day after the keynote speech, the Trump Campaign called out Kenyatta and the other speakers, calling them the “Radical 17.” Kenyatta responded on Twitter, calling it a “badge of honor” and promoting his work to secure equipment for frontline workers, among other things.
“If we vote like we’ve lost our minds,” Kenyatta said to the LGBTQ caucus, “not only will we beat Donald Trump, but we will beat him in historic fashion.”
Other LGBTQ speakers at the mostly virtual Democratic convention included Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Tammy Baldwin, who both spoke Thursday night ahead of Joe Biden’s acceptance of the Democractic nomination.