Charles Pugh, the popular and openly gay longtime former Detroit television anchor, makes history with his big win in the Detroit city council elections. Pugh finished first with some 88,704 votes—nearly 10 percent of the vote overall—and now becomes the first openly gay council president in the city’s history. "I'm the president of the Detroit City Council who just happens to be gay," Pugh told supporters at last night's victory celebration.
Pugh said Detroiters sent “a strong and clear message” with their votes. The Council President-Elect tells the Michigan Messenger: "There has been a fear in the past by people in the LGBT community to stay in the closet for safety sake. So they won’t be fired, kicked out of the family, kicked out of the church. But this is a strong and clear message that that’s not required. That you can be who you are and be accepted into Detroit’s family if you step up with class and dignity and a willingness to help make our city a better place."
This morning Pugh attended a council meeting and told reporters he intends to tackle the budget first.
Pugh becomes one of the few openly gay black elected officials. Some analysts initially feared Pugh's historic candidacy would not resonate with voters—especially in one of the country’s largest predominately African-American cities. Voters proved the experts wrong. In August, Pugh finished in first place among more than 160 candidates in the primary. Says Pugh: "For those people who thought it would be an issue, they were short sighted. They did not see that Detroiters already knew my sexuality and were willing to accept it and say, 'You know what? You’re welcome here. We love you. Now let’s get to work to fix our collective problems.' "
Bravo. Congratulations to Charles Pugh.