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Kyrsten Sinema added to the Mount Rushmore of LGBTQ+ losers

Kyrsten Sinema Martina Navratilova caitlin jenner george santos
sinema.senate.gov; Shutterstock

She joins Navratilova, Jenner, Grenell, and Santos; however, Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt this lot is not.

When you think of recent letdowns in the queer community, the names of Martina Navratilova, Caitlin Jenner, Richard Grenell, and George Santos spring to mind. Though she was there in spirit, with her exit from the Senate earlier this week, Kyrsten Sinema can now ascend to the devious descenders on the Mount Rushmore of LGBTQ+ losers.

Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt this lot is not.

Navratilova disses trans athletes. Jenner dismisses the trans community. Grenell – well where do we even start? And Santos – will it ever end? Now comes Sinema, taking her rightful place among this tortured group, by scorning her identity and her party.

The headlines started out promisingly for Sinema, and expectations were high in November of 2018 when she was elected to the white, stodgy, male-dominated U.S. Senate. “Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema to be first openly bisexual U.S. senator,” “Kyrsten Sinema makes history as first bisexual member of U.S. Senate,” and our own, “Kyrsten Sinema Wins; Will Be First Out Bi U.S. Senator.”

But all that excitement didn’t last long. After a couple of years, Sinema showed her true colors, none of which are represented in any variation of the rainbow flag. She was variously referred to as a flop, flip-flopper, and I once labeled her, in January of 2022, as a “dagger at the throat of democracy” when she endorsed the filibuster that ended any hope of getting a voting rights bill passed.

The failure of the Senate to pass that bill will come back to haunt Democrats this year who, because of Sinema, neglected to address an issue sacrosanct to Black voters, who are at the core of the Democratic party. They are now lackadaisical at best about supporting President Joe Biden and Democrats, and Sinema put the nail in that coffin.

Sinema not only let down Black voters, but she was a major failure for LGBTQ+ people — as our own Chris Linnell wrote in March of 2021 in a column titled “Kyrsten Sinema Proves LGBTQ+ Representation Isn't Everything.” In that piece, she cited a warning from veteran LGBTQ+ journalist Michelangelo Signorile: “Were we too quick to throw our support behind Sinema because she's bisexual?"

SiriusXM host Signorile certainly thinks so. "I warned you all about Kyrsten Sinema--years ago," he tweeted on Friday. "When she came on my show in 2012 and couldn't 'remember' her very public coming out as bisexual on floor of the AZ legislature -- when she suddenly decided she needed to play it down. My jaw dropped. But here we are."

Yes, here we are indeed, saying goodbye to Sinema who waffled on her sexuality, and also with her allegiance to the Democratic Party. She switched to an independent in December of 2022, leaving the party behind like she did us.

My jaw dropped when I found this nugget in a 2013 NPR story after she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time: "I'm just really proud of the Democratic caucus," she told voters, according to the outlet. "I look around in our meetings, and I think we really look like America."

It turns out Sinema’s America is one where Black people are denied voting rights (she was censured by the Arizona Democratic Party for this position), low-paying workers get a “thumbs-down” to a raise in the minimum wage, and our community is blocked from the benefits of an Equality Act. Sinema may be bisexual, but she is definitely not a Democrat anymore.

There is so much to Sinema’s story that goes beyond jaw-dropping. Who am I to judge, but it's mystifying to me why she didn’t lift a finger to help create change and acceptance in the U.S. Senate. Why didn't she do more to speak out about equality, and why did she just plain not care about, well, anything that mattered?

And why do she and her actions and attitude matter? I had a bit of a heated discussion with a friend of mine who lives in Arizona when I once brought up the fact that she was a loser. “What do you expect from her?” he asked me.

What we expected was having representation in arguably the most powerful deliberative and legislative body in the world, the U.S. Senate. Her colleague, Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, makes us proud, stands by her convictions, and, because of that, she’s been successful and popular in her home state.

Sinema, on the other hand, was a grifter,and gutless. And she was a flake and a phony – come on, who among us really bought the fact that she was a Democrat? She did nothing to endear herself to our community, the party, or to her constituents. She didn’t run for reelection because she knew people were on to her.

The only “bi” Sinema stood for was the “bye-bye” she gave to the voters of Arizona who believed in her, and for the bi and wider LGBTQ+ community who also saw themselves in her.

When news of her decision not to seek reelection started to spread, California Democratic Congressman Robert Garcia said it best when he tweeted, “Never thought I would be celebrating losing an LGBTQ+ member from the Senate, but here we are. And thank goodness."

Losing is the operative word to describe Sinema. While she may have exited the Senate, which has been referred to as the most exclusive club in the world, she now enters another exclusive club, the LGBTQ+ Mount Rushmore of losers, joining Navratilova, Jenner, Grenell, and Santos.

John Casey is a senior editor at The Advocate.

Views expressed in The Advocate’s opinion articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, equalpride.

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John Casey

John Casey is senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. The columns include interviews with Sam Altman, Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen DeGeneres, Colman Domingo, Jennifer Coolidge, Kelly Ripa and Mark Counselos, Jamie Lee Curtis, Shirley MacLaine, Nancy Pelosi, Tony Fauci, Leon Panetta, John Brennan, and many others. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the Nobel Prize-winning UN IPCC, and with four of the largest retailers in the U.S.
John Casey is senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. The columns include interviews with Sam Altman, Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen DeGeneres, Colman Domingo, Jennifer Coolidge, Kelly Ripa and Mark Counselos, Jamie Lee Curtis, Shirley MacLaine, Nancy Pelosi, Tony Fauci, Leon Panetta, John Brennan, and many others. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the Nobel Prize-winning UN IPCC, and with four of the largest retailers in the U.S.