A 24-year-old West Virginia Republican state lawmaker came out as gay this week.
In a video message shared on Twitter Sunday, Joshua Higginbotham came out to his constituents, assuring them that his conservative values have not changed.
The young lawmaker was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 2016, making him the state's youngest member of the legislature at age 19. He explained that he hadn't chosen to publicly share his sexuality sooner because he had been privately coming out to family first.
"There were some people in my family...who didn't know yet about this, and frankly they weren't really ready to know," he said. "I was quite concerned that they might disown me if I told them. They didn't. We're all good, they're 100 percent supportive of me."
He continued, "We made a decision as a family to be more open about it and make it public, because there's nothing wrong with it. I'm not ashamed of it. I'm not embarrassed by it. It's part of who I am. And I wanted to share this part about me with you."
Higginbotham concluded his message by reiterating that he still identifies as Christian and conservative Republican.
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"Nothing has changed, other than, now you know this about my personal life, whereas you didn't know beforehand," he said. "I'm still the same guy you've voted for in six elections, three primaries and three generals. And I'll continue to serve the Kanawha Valley. I don't see anything wrong with it."
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Higginbotham followed up the video with another tweet that read: "It's ok to be gay and Christian. It's ok to be gay and a conservative Republican official in West Virginia. My family accepts me. My friends accept me. Now I'm asking you to accept me as well."
According to NBC News, Higginbotham was the only Republican delegate who voted against the bill that passed in West Virginia in April that requires transgender student athletes to compete on teams based on the sex they were assigned at birth. A federal lawsuit was filed in May challenging the bill, the Associate Press previously reported.
Higginbotham won his third general election in 2020, which marked a historic year for LGBTQ lawmakers.
In November, Delaware senator Sarah McBride became the first openly transgender official ever elected to a U.S. state Senate, while Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones earned themselves a place in the history books as the first openly gay Black men elected to Congress.