The state of Oregon will make history this week when it swears in the current Secretary of State Kate Brown (D) as governor, making her the governor in the country to be openly bisexual.
Gov. John Kitzhaber (D), who had just been reelected to his fourth term in November, resigned on Friday amid questions about the improper influence his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, may have had over the distribution over contracts distributed in the state. Though the 67-year-old governor repeatedly denied allegations of wrongdoing, he said in a statement Friday that his resignation would be effective Feb.18. Because the state of Oregon doesn’t have a lieutenant governor like most other states, the secretary of state will succeed Kizhaber.
Brown wrote about her bisexuality in a 1992, when she was serving in the state’s House of Representatives. “I believe it was during my early 30’s that I figured out who, or what, I am. But it wasn’t until it was written in the Oregonian newspaper that I was bisexual that I had to face the inevitable and let those around me know. Thus began my very public coming out as a bisexual,” she wrote as part of an online project called Out And Elected In The USA. A Minnesota native, Brown’s parents told her when she came out to them that it would be “easier” for them if she were a lesbian.
Brown will also swell the ranks of women in the Democratic Governors Association, which currently only has two other female governors. The Republican’s association of governors has four female governors.
She joins Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) as another high-profile elected official to publicly identify as bisexual. As recently as 2012, The Advocate only counted six openly bisexual elected officials, though about 90 at the time openly identified as LGBT.