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Out NYC Councilman Challenging Homophobe for Congressional Seat

Ritchie Torres
Wikimedia Commons

Ritchie Torres will face notoriously anti-gay colleague Ruben Diaz, Sr. in a Democratic primary next June.

Ritchie Torres, an out New York City Councilman, will officially announce his bid for Congress Monday. He will face a colleague with a history of making homophobic remarks.

Torres told The New York Timeshe's ready to officially launch his candidacy for an open House seat now filled by Democrat Jose Serrano. The Victory Fund has already endorsed Torres, who would be the first openly gay member of Congress who is either black or Latinx.

The race will likely spotlight a generational change on LGBTQ rights. The 31-year-old faces New York City Councilman Ruben Diaz, Sr., a former state senator, in the Democratic primary. That makes the battle, as Torres describes it, "a struggle for the soul of the Bronx."

Diaz has been an outspoken and outright hostile opponent of marriage equality. He once attended a protest of an AIDS walk in drag as part of a "March for Morality."

Torres plans to spotlight his opponent's anti-LGBTQ record.

"To have an elected official attack the quality and dignity of LGBT people sends a message to young people who are thinking of taking their own life as they struggle with their identity," Torres told the Times.

Diaz, for his part, has tried to soften his stance as he prepares to run for federal office.

"My family is full of gays," he told the Times. "I don't believe in gay marriage but that doesn't mean I hate people."

And it has been months since he faced calls for resignation for anti-gay remarks, most recently for telling a Spanish-language radio station New York City is "controlled by the homosexual community."

Torres, a Bronx councilman, in 2013 became the youngest elected official on the New York City Council. He spoke about his journey from troubled teen to elected official in a sit-down with The Advocatein 2017.

"I've struggled with depression. I grew in poverty," he said. "And yet here I am. The youngest elected official of the largest city in the country."

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