There’s at least one silver lining to the resignation of embattled Oregon governor John Kitzhaber: Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown will step in as his replacement next week, becoming the first openly bisexual governor in American history.
The Victory Fund’s Denis Dison said Brown’s appointment makes the LGBT community proud, but added “more importantly for Oregonians, she’s a dedicated, passionate and impressive public servant who’s ready for this challenge. We believe in Kate Brown and her ability to lead Oregon through this difficult moment.”
Gov. Kitzhaber resigned on Friday amid a scandal involving his fiancee, Cylvia Hayes, using public resources to further her career.
Brown, who married husband Dan in 2007, came out as bisexual in an essay for Out and Elected in the USA, writing, “Some days I feel like I have a foot in both worlds, yet never really belonging to either.”
She recalled disheartening responses from friends and colleagues: Her parents told her “It would be much easier for us if you were a lesbian.” Gay friends called her “half-queer,” and a 70-year-old legislator told her, “Guess that means I still have a chance?”
Bi visibility has been a growing concern within the LGBT community and the country at large. Various reports have claimed, for example, that bisexual men don’t really exist. And a 2013 Pew study found that only 28% of bisexuals were out to friends and family, while more than 70% of gay men and lesbians were.