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Christy Holstege on Track to Be Nation's Only Out Bisexual Mayor

Christy Holstege

Christy Holstege is on track to become mayor of Palm Springs, Calif., which will make her the only out bisexual mayor in the nation and first woman to be mayor of the desert city east of Los Angeles.

Holstege appears to have won reelection to the City Council, although not all the votes have been counted. The mayoral position rotates among council members by order of district, and Holstege is next in line for the spot.

Early results showed Holstege winning 58 percent of the vote in District 4 in Tuesday’s election, while Mike McCulloch had 29 percent and Dian Torres 12 percent, Palm Springs’ Desert Sun reports. About 53 percent of the ballots had been counted in the nonpartisan race, but the results are unlikely to change, according to local media.

Holstege is an attorney focusing on social justice issues, and she was first elected to the council in 2017, giving Palm Springs an entirely LGBTQ+ City Council. Lisa Middleton, a transgender lesbian, was first elected then too, and she was reelected this week with no opposition.

Holstege praised her campaign team’s work in this year’s election. “Our team recruited dozens and dozens of volunteers; we made thousands and thousands of calls. We contacted thousands of voters multiple times. ... We texted,” she told My News LA. “So really, the high point is building a movement with our community, and with our team and our volunteers.” Her platform emphasized the need to address homelessness in Palm Springs and to help the economy rebound amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The politician encountered some biphobia during the campaign, just as she did in 2017. A staff member for McCulloch questioned whether she was really part of the LGBTQ+ community; Holstege is married to a man, Adam Gilbert, and recently gave birth to a son, but that doesn’t mean she’s not bisexual. Some online commenters made sexist statements, such as wondering if a new mother could fulfill her duties on the council. And Torres, in a social media post, referred to Holstege’s “alleged husband.”

“It’s sad and distressing that people are resorting to these campaign tactics in our city,” Holstege wrote in an October Facebook post. “I worry about how this impacts people watching who may want to run for office in the future. Discrimination hurts our entire community, publicly silences underrepresented voices, and discourages active political participation by women, people of color, and LGBTQ people (that’s the point of it).”

She added, “There is a reason we don’t have equal representation of women in office, a reason why we’ve never had a female mayor in 83 years, why we don’t have many pregnant/mothers in elected office, why there are so few openly bi elected officials across the country, and why women and LGBTQ candidates are routinely discriminated against and underrepresented.”

Holstege, 34, believes she’ll be the youngest mayor in Palm Springs history, although records on this are incomplete. It’s uncertain if she’ll be the first out bi mayor in the nation, although it’s safe to say she’ll be the only one at this time, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which endorsed her.

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