Brian Sims, the hunky and openly gay Democratic member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in the 182nd district was in Seattle for a whirlwind tour. He started at Microsoft Thursday with a stop at the University of Washington on Friday. There were several events scheduled for Friday evening (including a visit to Diesel and “Spring Thaw” with Seattle’s out gay mayor, Ed Murray) before his departure first thing this morning. Fortunately, he had a few minutes to visit with us this morning. He was a genuine pleasure. He spoke with us about all sorts of current events even including personal interests and his choices in music.
Earle Dutton: How are you enjoying Seattle?
Rep. Brian Sims: I am loving it. It is beautiful. I think the last time I was here is when I was a little kid.
ED: Do you have anything to say about the Ted Cruz event at the penthouse of the gay man that owns the OUT NYC hotel?
BS: Oh yes! I agree with everyone that is going to protest and really support all the people who will never set foot in that hotel again. I have zero patience for people that put their pocketbook above other people’s civil rights.
ED: What do you think about SCOTUS taking up marriage equality next week?
BS: I am one of the people that definitely thinks the Supreme Court will definitely rule in our favor. Anytime there is a discussion in LGBT rights about marriage equality, I always try to bring it back to non-discrimination. I will be as excited as anybody else when SCOTUS passes marriage equality. It will impact lots of people but not nearly as many as a non-discrimination law. Marriage is wonderful and it is not a trickle down civil right.
ED: How does the 2016 presidential election look from your point of view?
BS: It is going to be interesting because where I live in Philadelphia is the DNC zone. My district falls right in the Democratic National Committees convention zone. I am one of those people that think we are long overdue for a woman in the White House. We have the experiences of Y chromosomes in the White House for our entire history. We are due for a new life experience and something different. Watching the Republican sort of clown car driving off the cliff isn’t something I actually enjoy. I know lots of partisans are perfectly fine with this crop of just wackadoodle Republicans but I am not. If we are going to survive as a country and be sustainable, we need our two viable parties that actually represent a bulk of America. I don’t think what we are seeing from these Republican candidates is any sort of American values or Americana. That scares me. I don’t think we do well in a country where one party is good and the other is bad. That is just how things are and what I am seeing right now.
ED: Do you have a message for other openly gay politicians or hopeful politicians?
BS: I actually do. I harken back to Barney Frank a lot. Barney Frank famously said ‘Unless you have a seat at the table, you are probably on the menu.’ There are dozens perhaps thousands of reasons not to run for office but I think the reasons to run for office as an out person in an authentic way out weigh all of them. What we know electing out people in office is that the byproduct is civil rights. I think most people would agree that we simply don’t have the civil rights that we should in this country. I think one of the ways we fix that is to make sure that we actually live in a representative democracy that actually represents the population.
ED: What do you think about the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as Attorney General?
BS: It reminds me of when Justice Sotomayor was in the process. She said that what the Supreme Court needed was a wise Latina. I couldn’t have agreed more. I think we are so long overdue for a Loretta Lynch. There is something neat about the first and that is that the moment it happens it is over with. Now we don’t have to focus on if we will ever have a woman of color. Now we focus on how she is so qualified and why she will be so good at the job.
ED: Do you have a message for LGBTQ youth?
BS: I do and it is a bit cheesy but it is important to me. I think that what we see every single day in bigots, homophobes, sexists and racists is this sort of herd mentality. I am scared to be something different and I am going to proclaim from the rooftops that I am not different. I tell kids all the time not to be another horse in the herd. Be a unicorn. The unicorn stands out. The unicorn gets noticed. The unicorn makes changes. I don’t think just another horse in the herd can do that.
ED: Did you bring a book for the trip or what are you currently reading?
BS: I am not right now, but yesterday at Microsoft I was handed an autographed copy of Barney Frank’s autobiography. I think I am going to start reading it.
ED: Since Seattle is a music city, can you tell us what kind of music you enjoy?
BS: I listen to a lot of sort of acoustic lyric driven Classic Rock but I will admit that the last seven months or so, you cannot get Etta James off my iPad.