Way too often, LGBTQ+ persons are labeled by their sexuality and not described by their character. We have to work twice as hard to make sure we defy society’s odds and are actually noticed for who we are and not our private preferences. Our equal opportunity to be referred to with person-first language is negated by societal descriptors that speak no volumes to our character nor our promise. In other words, why can’t the gay lawyer/doctor/teacher/politician be the lawyer/doctor/teacher/politician that just so happens to be gay? Or, in a perfect world, would it be so hard for them to simply be referred to as a lawyer/doctor/teacher/politician?
If anyone could help me make this point to you, it would be Eric Holguin, a candidate in the upcoming election for the 27th Congressional District of Texas. I had the pleasure of interviewing the South Texas native a few weeks ago and what struck me the most is that although he is proud of who he is, he doesn’t want his sexuality to appear as the primary focus of his campaign. Check out the interview below:
Q: Who is Eric Holguin and how did he get to where he is today?
A: Well, simply put, I’m a proud Latino that was born and raised in southern Texas. Originally, after graduating from Texas A&M - Corpus Christi, I moved to New York City (NYC) and worked as a talent agent, and truth be told, I actually had the honor of representing Shereé Whitfield from Real Housewives of Atlanta (RHOA), but I always had an interest in government and politics, so I switched gears and was awarded the opportunity to work for US Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney before advancing with the NYC Comptroller. While there, I served as the Manhattan liaison, but I was also able to aid in the efforts of LGBTQ+ outreach. For instance, I worked with MGLCC to get LGBTQ+ business owners certified in the city (click here) and worked with the biggest public pension system to send letters and make calls to both the governor and the state senate of Texas to enforce that if they passed the SB6 Bathroom Bill, we would remove their funding (click here).
Q: You are running for the 27th Congressional District of TX, and, if elected, you will be the first LGBTQ+ Latino elected to Congress as well as the first LGBTQ+ Congressman from Texas. How has this experience been for you thus far?
A: It’s actually been really good. Corpus Christi had its first major gay pride parade in June, but there are still waters that I have to tread lightly on. Even though people tell me that a Latino gay man can’t take down a large white tea party, there are still many others that believe in me and are excited because they see me as someone viable enough to run for Congress. The environment is much different from that of NY, but I don’t want my personal life to take away from my actual mission. Quite frankly, it’s important issues surround the LGBTQ+ community, but those issues are not all I care about and I don’t want anyone to think that’s my sole purpose in running for office.
Q: Your campaign slogan is “Rebuild Texas” but instead of being just a slogan, you believe that it is a game plan for results. What exactly are the results you are targeting for Texas?
A: I grew up in a working middle-class family and my experiences from living in that truth are why my biggest focus is centralized on working middle-class families, which in turn, helps the community. I want to help the middle-class families rise to the top by not only protecting health care, but improving the infrastructure of the community which has positive effects on the number of jobs available and the economy. The stuff we walk on and ignore are what companies like plants and headquarters pay attention to. It is an absolute priority to set up the 27th District in a way that allows markets, businesses, pipelines, and schools to thrive.
Q: It appears that you have created yourself quite the load with the goals you have set for office, such as improving the infrastructure, providing more jobs, fighting for civil rights, engaging the youth, and much more. How do you plan to attack all of these issues?
A: It needs to be done one by one. I don’t make promises, but I honestly believe that if I start with infrastructure, then that will trickle down to the creation of more jobs along with jobs that pay more, which will put more money back into the economy. Even more so, if we can get small business to grow by pouring more money into them, then that will trickle down to even more jobs and I’m not referencing fast food, low-wage paying jobs. The current minimal low wage in Corpus Christi is $7.25, a wage that I want to be $15 by 2024. The less you pay your workers, the more they have to rely on government assistance. So, you can’t get mad when they need it. Pay them more and they will spend more, which will benefit the economy all around.
Q: You also want to lower the voting age to 17 so that high school students can begin to engage in their civic duties early. Why is this an important task for you and them?
Right now, millennials are the largest surviving generation. Baby boomers are starting to fade out and millennials are the least engage voters as they don’t vote as they should. If we can start getting high school seniors/juniors engaged, then it will become a habit of mind for when they will leave high school. I think it would be a good idea to implement a strategy so that once you’re 17, you’ll be automatically registered so they would have to deliberately opt out to not be registered.
Q: You’ve been quoted as saying that while growing up, your family wasn’t wealthy, but it was the determination that pushed your family to succeed in spite of the circumstances. How do you believe this makes you the perfect candidate to push for families throughout the 27th District?
A: My family is a very public service oriented…my mom, dad, brothers, aunts, uncles, grandfather, etc. So, it’s honestly all I know. Most people that fill these government positions are independently wealthy, but if you grow up in an area where you’re exposed to government care like WIC or supplemental programs like I was, you have a different outlook on how the community can be helped. You can actually look at the people who are struggling and approach them without judgment. I’ve lived that life and it’s not easy, but most importantly, I’m definitely not afraid to get my hands dirty.
Q: The current presidency that America is witnessing seems to continuously target a rollback of the rights LGBTQ+ community members have earned, especially those of our transgender women and men. How do you plan on fighting for the issues of our community?
A: One of the first major laws of the land is the Equality Act which states that the LGBTQ+ community can’t be discriminated against for credit, housing, governmental help, education, and etc. The same way you can’t discriminate against a person because they’re black or of color is the same that you can’t because they’re LGBTQ+. I plan to work towards placing LGBTQ+ business owners in an organization that gives them funding and I would also like to make it easier for transgender individuals to change their gender on their ID. These changes don’t hurt anyone, but it is apparent the LGBTQ+ community is used as the red meat to anger Trump’s base (people that support him) and as a pawn.
Q: Amid the current progressive movement by many Americans speaking out against people of power who have sexually abused and/or harassed them, the current U.S. Representative for Texas’s 27th Congressional District, Blake Farenthold, is under fire for settling a sexual harassment claim made against him by a former staffer using $84,000 of taxpayer money. What is your opinion on the matter?
A: On top of the very serious and disturbing concerns of being accused of sexual misconduct, it is also troubling to know that our taxpayer money was used to settle these allegations. Our taxpayer money should not be used as a slush fund for our Congress members. He should be responsible personally for settling those claims. I believe where there is smoke, there is fire – and Farenthold has a lot of smoke emitting from his office right now.
Q: If there was one message that you would want anyone to remember from your campaign, win or lose, what would it be?
A: I’m only 30 years old. So, if anything, I would want someone to know that you’re never too young or unable, to step up and make a change in your community.
When looking at Eric Holguin, you could never possibly know his story. When learning of his mission and purpose, it will give you hope. Yet, when learning of his sexuality, he will be discredited by some, distrusted by others, and counted out by many as some may even wonder if his primary focus will be to “help his own.” Eric is like many of us - counted out simply because of our sexuality before we’re even able to show a glimpse of our character. Yet, also like him, we have to persevere in spite of and continue to put our best foot forward because those that deserve to get to know us will, and those that don’t will earn their right to miss out. We may often have to work twice as hard to not be primarily described by our orientations, but we will engrave our names in the world forever.
If you would like more information on Eric’s platform or would like to volunteer with/contribute to his campaign, visit www.EricforUs.com. If you are located in the 27th District of Texas, make sure you are registered to vote so your voices can be heard both in the Primary (March 6, 2018) and General (November 6, 2018) elections. Good luck Eric!