Representative JoCasta Zamarripa | A Voice for Women, Latinos, and the LGBT Community

In November of 2010, Representative JoCasta Zamarripa made history by becoming the first Latina to be elected to the Wisconsin Legislature. Getting elected secured a voice not only for women but for the Latino community — the fastest growing community across the country. And though she had been an ally to the LGBT community, it wasn’t until a July 2012 interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that she officially announced that she is bisexual. Not only did she come out to her community, but she did it prior to her reelection primary! Shortly after that interview, she was reelected to her second term in November of 2012 and was elected Democratic Caucus Vice-Chair. This is what happens when we speak truth to power.

It’s awesome to be able to be a leader for both our LGBT community and our Latino community.

In her own words, “I told my team, ‘I’ll be coming out prior to the primary,’ and they were worried — again this feeling that the Latino community won’t have me because they’re more socially conservative. But I proved them wrong because we have won now, two reelections. It’s just been a fantastic experience and it feels really… I can’t describe how wonderful it feels to finally be an out leader for my LGBT community and lead on those equality issues in the way that I always knew that I wanted to.”

Representative Zamarripa is a living testimonial of intersectional women’s leadership serving on six Assembly committees, the Governor’s Council on Migrant Labor, and is a member of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO).

Prior to her candidacy for the 8th Assembly District, Representative Zamarripa worked as a community outreach coordinator for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, was active in the 9 to 5 National Association of Working Women, served as board secretary for 9 to 5 Milwaukee, and was a board member for Equality Wisconsin (formerly Center Advocates).

Watch her video below

I told my team, ‘I’ll be coming out prior to the primary,’ and they were worried — again this feeling that the Latino community won’t have me because they’re more socially conservative. But I proved them wrong because we have won now, two reelections. It’s just been a fantastic experience and it feels really… I can’t describe how wonderful it feels to finally be an out leader for my LGBT community and lead on those equality issues in the way that I always knew that I wanted to.

People were very concerned — people who were supporters of mine and opponents — thought that I couldn’t be a leader for both communities. Opponents tried out me via whisper campaigns and the like, so it was a very difficult time for me — that first term — having to not being able to embrace that part of my identity and not being able to be out and open leader for the LGBT community. It was very difficult.

Then, in 2012, I ran for my first re-election and I made the decision — I told my team — I did have a primary opponent, and I knew they again would try to out me via a whisper campaign. And I just was fed up with it. I decided absolutely not I wasn’t going to try to hide this part of myself, and I wanted to truly be a leader. I already was a leader, but as an ally in the community, and I wasn’t happy with that. I wanted the LGBT community to know that I was representing for us and that we also have a seat at the table in the legislature because I was there.

And I told my team, “I’ll be coming out prior to the primary,” and they were worried — again this feeling that the Latino community won’t have me because they’re more socially conservative. But I proved them wrong because we have won now, two reelections. It’s just been a fantastic experience and it feels really… I can’t describe how wonderful it feels to finally be an out leader for my LGBT community and lead on those equality issues in the way that I always knew that I wanted to.