Gwinnett school board member makes history by coming out

Everton Blair celebrated National Coming Out Day by announcing that he is gay, making him the first-ever openly LGBTQ member of the Gwinnett County Board of Education.

Blair made the announcement Friday on social media, putting him in select company with Atlanta City Councilmember Antonio Brown as the only two black LGBTQ elected officials in Georgia. 

The announcement was more for his students than anything, Blair told Project Q Atlanta.

“I think for me it was really just understanding the opportunity to increase visibility for the students in my district who may or may not be in a space of continuous affirmation,” he said.

Blair won the District 4 seat on the Gwinnett School board in 2018, becoming both the youngest member and first-ever black member of the board.

He said he didn’t bring up his sexual orientation during the campaign because it “wasn’t something that naturally came up” and that he was focused on education issues.

“On the other side, once I was elected it was not a secret to anyone, but not something that I had publicly stepped forward and announced,” he said. “Today felt like the right opportunity because it’s not singularly about me, but it’s a reflective moment where we’re thinking about where we are as a community.”

Blair worked with the Victory Institute’s Coming Out Project in the weeks leading up to the announcement, according to the group’s president and CEO Annise Parker.

“Everton’s coming out will have an impact far beyond the borders of Gwinnett County as he affirms the identities of LGBTQ students and sparks courage in other elected officials who want to come out to colleagues or constituents,” Parker said in a press release. “With just 15 openly LGBTQ elected officials in all of Georgia and just two openly LGBTQ black men, Everton will be a unique and influential voice moving forward, and a relentless advocate for vulnerable students.”

Blair attended a Victory Fund event in Midtown in March 2018. 

Blair is now one of three openly LGBTQ elected officials in Gwinnett, joining County Commissioner Ben Ku and state Rep. Sam Park.

He’ll celebrate the announcement by marching in Sunday’s Atlanta Pride parade with the Gwinnett Democrats.

“It’s a really exciting weekend,” he said. “I knew it would be a fun time and I’m glad to be walking lockstep as a member of the community. I’m looking forward to it.”

(h/t AJC)

Photo courtesy Everton Blair