Two queer Catholics are vying for the same district seat to serve on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. The historic political body, which was home to Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to serve in a political office in the United States, will soon be the workplace of an LGBTQ Catholic, according to the Bay Area Reporter.
Honey Mahogany is a transgender, self-described “black sheep Catholic” who would be the first non-binary supervisor, as well as the first openly queer Black member of the board. After her family took refuge in the U.S. due to political violence in Ethiopia, Mahogany became immersed in the Catholic community of San Francisco:
In her opening campaign speech, Mahogany emphasized her Catholic upbringing and dedication to living out the church’s social teaching on economics, property and social change, saying.
“I’ve spent decades working to get homeless folks off the streets and into care, getting people struggling with addiction into recovery, and getting people who have committed crimes on a path to accountability.”
Mahogany initially came to national attention as a performer on the television show RuPaul’s Drag Race, and has channeled that same charismatic magnetism to her political life. She made history in 2021 as the first Black and trans chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party, according to ABC.
While she is not currently actively involved in parish life, her dedication to a Catholic vision of social justice empowers her activism, and she states that she “is still a good Catholic girl at heart.”
Mahogany was chief of staff for the former supervisor in the District 6 seat, Matt Haney, until he stepped down from the seat. While she asked to be made temporary supervisor, the role instead went to Matt Dorsey.
Dorsey is a gay Catholic who has been public about living with HIV and the need for greater queer healthcare access. He is a parishioner and former parish council member at Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, which has been the source of innovative LGBTQ ministry since the 1980s. Fr. Donal Godfrey, S.J., who recounted the history of Most Holy Redeemer’s queer outreach in his 2007 book Gays and Greys, offered the invocation when Dorsey assumed the supervisor seat.
While Dorsey and Mahogany are both trailblazers in their own ways, neither of them would be the first queer Catholic on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. The last member of the board who integrated their Catholic faith and political work was Tom Ammiano, an early leader in the LGBTQ rights movement on the West Coast who served as a supervisor in the 1990s. During his time as an assembly member in the California State Assembly, Ammiano applied Catholic Social Teaching on the poor to his legislative efforts to decriminalize homelessness in the state. In 2021, he made national headlines for being awarded his varsity letter in track six decades after being denied the honor by his Catholic high school due to homophobia.
Having two new LGBTQ+ Catholics vying for a seat leaders on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is nothing short of inspirational. As queer Catholic political leaders continue to ascend to new heights, all members of the church can celebrate the increasing influence of LGBTQ+ lay people in civic life.
—Andru Zodrow (he/him), New Ways Ministry, June 30, 2022