When a 13-year-old Kim Jackson saw her hometown elect its first black mayor, she knew she wanted to run for office. At 35, she’s on her way to becoming Georgia’s first-ever LGBTQ state senator.
“I come from a really small town and went to a city council meeting, and they elected their first black mayor, so there was somebody sitting in that seat that looked like me,” Jackson said in a new episode of Podcast Q. (Listen below)
“And I watched them make decisions that really made a difference, a positive difference in my city, and that was that light bulb moment for me that said, oh I don’t know the where, I don’t know the when, and I honestly don’t know how, but I do know that I feel called to make a difference in the world, and elected office was a clear way to make that happen,” she added.
On this episode of Podcast Q, Jackson also talks about the personal impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the ongoing racial justice movement and taking gaybies to the Atlanta Pride parade, where both she and her wife have been honored as grand marshals. We even dish about the tiny lesbian enclave in her district called Pine Lake.
Jackson heads to the Georgia Senate after a commanding win in June when she bested a field of four candidates in the Democratic primary and captured more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff. She faces Republican William Freeman in November, but District 41 is heavily Democratic. It cuts across DeKalb and Gwinnett counties and includes Stone Mountain, Clarkston, Tucker and Lilburn.
Jackson was one of four LGBTQ candidates for the state Senate in June, but she was the only one who won. Cody Smith lost in the Republican primary in District 3, while Kelly Johnson (District 35) and Devin Barrington-Ward (District 38) lost in the Democratic primary.
When lawmakers return to the State Capitol in January, Jackson will join a group of up to six other LGBTQ lawmakers who represent Georgia districts in the state House – a record number. She will be one of about a dozen women in the state Senate, which is controlled by Republicans. It’s also the chamber that often drives anti-LGBTQ legislation.
“Oftentimes the most anti-gay legislation, the most homophobic legislation that we get in Georgia often starts in the Senate. That’s the place. And there’s nobody who’s gay, who is queer, in the Senate. So they can do that without having to look someone in the face who it directly affects,” Jackson said.
“It’s important for me to be in that space for them to have to have that conversation not just about us but to me,” she added.
Jackson, an ordained priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, will also be able to talk religion with lawmakers who often use it to justify anti-LGBTQ legislation.
“I’m black. I’m queer. I’m female. I’m clergy, which is its own sort of identity, and specifically I’m Christian and I’m Southern. I think all of those pieces come together in really important ways,” Jackson said.
“I was thinking about how important it is to have someone in the Senate who knows what it is to have the queer experience, who knows firsthand,” she added.
Photo by C Brown Photography