Two LGBTQ Atlantans nabbed starring roles in a series of national campaign ads released this week to highlight Joe Biden’s pro-equality agenda in his run for president.
The Biden campaign released the three ads on Tuesday.
“I really didn’t know if I was going to get selected and I was super surprised and excited,” Atlanta transgender activist Feroza Syed told Project Q Atlanta. “Who wouldn’t be excited to be in a campaign commercial for the next president of the United States?”
Syed and local queer activist Jauan Durbin are featured in one ad discussing visibility during a Biden-Kamala Harris administration.
LGBTQ lives are on the ballot this year, according to Syed. She was one of 48 people named to Joe Biden’s Georgia LGBTQ Leadership Council earlier this month.
“I don’t have the privilege or the choice of sitting this one out, because if we had another four years of this, the LGBTQ community — and more specifically the trans community — is going to suffer irreparable damage,” she said. “I’m looking forward to an administration that has compassion, morality, humanity, empathy and leadership.”
Syed and Durbin are both members of the ballroom family the House of Balenciaga. Durbin is a senior sociology major at Morehouse College and was the first openly LGBTQ person to win the title of Mr. Historically Black Colleges & Universities, according to Vice.
“I believe that it was imperative that the Biden campaign spotlight the LGBTQIA+ community during this election season because equity for all should be at the core of American life and standard,” he told Project Q. “By acknowledging and affirming both our identities and differences, we can begin to truly foster an even stronger sense of community.”
Durbin and Morehouse College senior Keon Berry are featured in another Biden campaign ad talking in Cleopas Johnson Park in downtown Atlanta. Berry, who is straight, is the founder and president of the educational non-profit Berry Academy.
A third ad in the series features the gay chair of the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County in Wisconsin.
Biden’s Georgia campaign includes two LGBTQ senior staff members: former state Rep. Simone Bell and Reese McCranie, a veteran of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign as well as Keisha Lance Bottoms’ 2017 runoff victory for Atlanta mayor. Bell is a senior adviser and McCranie is deputy state director of Biden’s Georgia campaign.
Bell discussed the campaign’s LGBTQ inclusion in an episode of Q Conversations in August.
Eleven LGBTQ leaders from metro Atlanta joined 300 others nationwide to endorse Biden and Kamala Harris in September.
Q magazine profiled Syed in 2018 a short time after she publicly came out as a trans woman. Earlier this year, she was featured in a photo essay featuring five trans Atlantans as their favorite Disney character.
Gay Atlanta attorney featured in Ossoff ad
Atlanta attorney and former police officer Dennis Collard is featured with other former law enforcement officers in an ad for Jon Ossoff, who is running to oust Sen. David Perdue in one of two U.S. Senate races this year in Georgia. Collard was also featured in an ad for Stacey Abrams during her 2018 run for governor against Brian Kemp.
Ossoff told Project Q in September that he will bring “deeply rooted” LGBTQ inclusion to the Senate.
Rev. Raphael Warnock told Project Q in October that he vows to fight HIV, pass the Equality Act and appoint pro-equality judges if elected to Kelly Loeffler’s seat in the other race for U.S. Senate in Georgia.
This story is made possible by a grant from Google News Initiative’s Journalism Emergency Relief Fund.