West Virginia state lawmaker Josh Higginbotham, 24, has come out publically as gay. In a post on Twitter, Higginbotham wrote, “I’m gay. I’ve wanted to tell you this for many years, but I couldn’t be public like I wanted because there were still a few people in my family who didn’t know yet—now they do. So now I’m telling you, too.”
In the accompanying video, Higginbothman explained that he decided to come out after a discussion with his family. “We made a decision as a family to be more open about it and make it public, because there's nothing wrong with it,” he said. “I'm not ashamed of it. I'm not embarrassed by it, part of who I am. And I wanted to share this part about me with you.”
Higginbotham was first elected to West Virginia Legislature in 2016 at age 19, which made him the body's youngest member at the time. He is now serving his third term. He explains that he held off sharing his sexual identity with voters because he was concerned that his family members wouldn't understand it, or may even have disowned them. That didn't prove to be the case, however, and they are “100 percent supportive” of him, Higginbotham said.
In his statement, Higginbotham also wanted to put his voters at ease that this disclosure doesn’t change who he is as a legislator. “Nothing has changed other than now you know this about my personal life, whereas you didn't know beforehand,” Higginbotham said. “I'm still the same guy you've voted for ... and I'll continue to serve the Kanawha Valley.”
Higginbotham also wanted to reassure his voters that he's still a conservative Christian. “I am still a Christian. People think that gay people can't be Christians. I believe God loves me no matter what and I don't think there's anything wrong with that,” he said. “I’m still a conservative Republican. It’s rare, I know, but you can be gay and Republican. You can be gay and conservative.”
Watch his full statement below.