First-Time Candidate Becomes Only Openly Gay Member of Hawaii’s House of Representatives

Adrian Tam

Hawaii has elected its only openly gay Asian American member for the House of Representatives, defeating the state’s chapter leader of the far-right extremist group, the Proud Boys.

Big win: Adrian Tam, a 28-year-old first-time candidate of the Democratic Party, won the November election with a 63% vote against Nicholas Ochs, according to NBC News.

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  • He will be one of eight freshmen in the state House, the youngest being 23, according to HawaiiNewsNow.
  • Tam will represent Hawaii’s District 22, which will cover Waikiki, Ala Moana and Kakaako on Oahu, News Channel 2 reported.
  • “It feels really good to know that someone who is openly LGBT can win,” he said. “There was a time when people like me could not win. I’m glad that I can bring that representation to the capital.”
  • Tam will replace Tom Brower, a long-time Democratic representative of the district since 2006.
  • “Adrian will ensure LGBTQ people are considered and prioritized in the state capitol and will inspire more LGBTQ people to run and serve,” Annise Parker, president of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said.
  • “I’m glad that our Congress is slowly coming together and starting to look like the population of America,” Tam said.

 

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The road ahead: Tam told the Daily Beast defeating long-time incumbent representative Brower was his biggest challenge in the primary. It was a “change” election, he said.

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  • Tam said attacks on his campaign came from Ochs’ supporters, drowning his social media account with hateful messages and insults.
  • “I am happy and very hopeful that members of the community realized they didn’t represent the values of Hawaii,” he said of his win against the Hawaii leader of Proud Boys. “Groups like these will always exist, but it’s up to us to not only tune them out, but to get our message out there and change minds so more people don’t join them.”
  • Ochs’ campaign page was eventually deleted by Facebook for violating the terms of service and community standards when it allegedly posted offensive messages targeting the Black, Jewish and LGBTQ communities.
  • The only LGBTQ representative in the state House, Tam plans on keeping his door open for everyone as a public servant.
  • Tam wants to add ways to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic into his plans as a representative of District 22. He also plans to strengthen the nontourism industry and improve resources for the homeless.

 

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Who is Adrian Tam: Tam, a son of Hong Kong and Taiwanese immigrants, is a graduate of Kalani High School and received a degree in history from Penn State University, according to Victory Fund.

 

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  • He returned to Hawaii and worked as a licensed real estate agent for his family’s business.
  • Tam served as a legislative aide in 2016 and was promoted a year after to manage the Office of Senator Stanley Chang.
  • He helped pass the conversion therapy ban on minors in Hawaii during his tenure. Tam also played a role in convincing stakeholders to pass a ban on gay panic defense.

Feature Images via @adrianktam

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