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Nashville elects
first out councilman

Nashville elects
first out councilman

Keith Durbin, a Nashville accountant, made history Thursday, becoming Tennessee's first out gay elected official by winning a seat on the Nashville city council, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund said Friday.

Durbin, for five years president of the city's venerable Belmont-Hillsboro neighborhood association, ran unopposed for the seat in Nashville's District 18.

Though unopposed (his predecessor left due to term limits), Durbin spent Election Day at the precinct, standing under a tree with his mother, Geraldine Durbin of Paducah, Ky., where he grew up, The Tennessean newspaper blogged Thursday. He said, "I'm running for office to represent people, and I want them to know who I am."

"Political office was not an end in itself," Durbin, 40, told "My activism in the neighborhood created a lot of relationships, and that was the springboard. It created a space in which people could see me work and say, 'That's Keith,' not 'That's Keith, the gay person.'"

He describes Belmont-Hillsboro, built in the 1890s and largely regentrified, as "vibrant" and "really cool." Vanderbilt and Belmont universities are both in his district.

"I appeared before the council many times on planning and zoning things, and you can see how a single person, working with others, can really make a difference."

Durbin lives with his partner, human resources executive Gary Bynum--a fact he mentioned on his Web site. He said his goals on the council were to be "a strong voice for neighborhood interests, to emphasize top-quality education for our children, to encourage continued economic vitality of our Hillsboro Village and 12South business districts, and to work closely with Vanderbilt University and Belmont University as good neighbors." (Barbara Wilcox, The Advocate)

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