Despite endorsement, Sims marches on

“I’m showing up when no one else does.”

Brian Sims. Photo courtesy of the Brian Sims campaign

Updated March 19, 2022, at 4:28 PM

On March 4, 2022, the leaders of the LGBTQ communities across Pennsylvania endorsed Attorney General Josh Shapiro and State Representative Austin Davis for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, respectively. Representative Brian Sims, an openly gay man running as a candidate for Lieutenant Governor, was not endorsed.

According to the Washington Blade, an LGBTQ newspaper in Washington, D.C., “The decision by the LGBTQ leaders to back Davis over Sims — who became the second openly LGBTQ person to serve in the Pennsylvania General Assembly — will likely come as a surprise to LGBTQ activists outside of Pennsylvania, many of whom have supported Sims for re-election to his state House of Representatives seat representing Center City Philadelphia.”

Lee Hill, President of the Steel City Stonewall Democrats said, “It was not a unilateral decision. We invited all the candidates to speak, we listened to them and voted.”

When asked about why they did not choose a fellow member of the LGBTQ+ community, Lee said, “That was one variable of multiple variables. Nothing is guaranteed.”

Sims is not giving up on Pennsylvania. He’s been to 57 counties in the commonwealth, averaging one thousand miles of travel a week. Sims said, “I’m showing up when no one else does.”

Sims is the first openly gay elected state representative in Pennsylvania. Now, he’s determined to be the first openly gay Lieutenant Governor in the commonwealth’s history. He’s been fighting for equality since he came out to his teammates while playing football for Bloomsburg University in 2000. Even twenty-two years later, the All-American and team captain was the only openly gay college football captain in NCAA history.

He has been fighting for equality ever since. Sims said, “In the last ten years, I have fought for reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, and racial justice.” He added, “As Lieutenant Governor, I would introduce a comprehensive LGBTQ protections package.”

Sims claims to have a good working relationship with Shapiro. The state representative said, “We’ve known each other from the beginnings of our careers.” Shapiro, however, has also endorsed McKeesport native Austin Davis for the position.

Sims cited his differences with Shapiro stating, “I am stronger on environmental issues and criminal justice reform. If it were up to me, fracking would end tomorrow.”

While the governor would set the tone of a possible Shapiro/Sims administration, one of the lieutenant governor’s duties is to chair the Board of Pardons. Sims said, “Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system is classist and racist.”

The lieutenant governor must preside over the Senate working with democrats and republicans. Luckily, one of his adversaries, ultra-conservative republican Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who once called Sims “a lying homosexual,” is not seeking reelection.

Sims has a dire warning about republican politicians. When asked about Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Sims said, “When you ask, ‘How can this happen?’ I can tell you. Republicans are doubling down on their bad behavior. I have no doubt we will see a similar bill in Pennsylvania. They have this mirror/copy strategy. It’s all about getting attention and hurting LGBTQ people.”

He believes that book banning is “an early indication of Fascism.” He added, “Once you erase an identity from literature you are minimizing an identity, attacking an identity.”

Sims may have not won the endorsement from the Stonewall Democrats, or other LGBTQ organizations in Pennsylvania, he isn’t giving up without a fight.

He said, “I do the things I say I do.”

Sims has a motto and a mission: “To take responsibility, to show empathy, to have courage, and to be authentic. I want to put those values to the direct service of the Commonwealth.”

The Steel City Stonewall Democrats have no ill will toward the candidate. Hill said, “The ultimate decision will be made on Primary Day.”

Michael Buzzelli is a stand-up comedian and sit-down author. As a comedian, he has performed all around the country, most notably, the Ice House, the Comedy Store and the Improv in Los Angeles. As a writer, Michael Buzzelli has been published in a variety of websites, magazines and newspapers. He is a theater and arts critic for 'Burgh Vivant,’ Pittsburgh's online cultural talk magazine. He is also a Moth Grand Slam storyteller and actor. His books, "Below Average Genius," a collection of essays culled from his weekly humor column in the Observer-Reporter, and his romantic comedy,  “All I Want for Christmas," are on sale at Amazon.com. He is working on a LGBTQ romantic comedy called, “Why I Hate My Friends.” You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. (He / Him / His)