Openly LGBTQ+ woman runs for District 8 senator


Source: Nebraska Legislature Graphic by Hannah Miller

Hannah Miller, In-depth Writer

Megan Hunt is an entrepreneur, small business owner, community activist, and single mother. She is running for the Nebraska Legislature, and will be representing district eight. If she wins, she would be the first woman ever elected in her district, and the first openly LGBTQ+ senator in Nebraska’s history.

From a very young age Hunt has always been a political person.

“I was fascinated by questions about how people can best live together. What makes humans flourish, and what can we do collectively to make sure all humans have access to that opportunity? How best can we fulfill the dream (which is not only an American dream) of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? What role should government play in that?” said Hunt.

Hunt loved to read the news, was active in clubs and organizations in her school like speech, debate, and the student newspaper.

“Specifically, I really liked to use my writing for political activism. I would write letters to my elected officials, to my school leaders, and to my local newspaper. I think this helped me both make friends and gain a lot of self-confidence. It also really set the stage for what I’m doing today — running a business and running for office,” said Hunt.

One of the big reasons why Hunt is running for Nebraska legislature is because in the past 14 years she has lived and worked in district eight and she has got to know a lot of people through her entrepreneurial ventures, activism and volunteering. She has seen “a lot of fighters come and go.”

“People give so much of their time and so much of their money (and for many people, they have neither, so it’s a lot to ask) to the causes they believe in. When they are already working two jobs, taking care of kids, paying more in taxes and getting less in services, it is hard to sustain the level of political and civic engagement that is needed to move the needle,” said Hunt.

Hunt’s family and friends were supportive and not surprised about her wanting to run for legislature.

“It was great to start the campaign with enthusiasm from the people around me,” said Hunt.

For Hunt, the most challenging part about running for office has been her own self-doubt. Hunt knew she was, “green and inexperienced,” and that all candidates start out that way and must start out somewhere.

“I knew that my experience as a business owner and activist in Nebraska more than qualified me for this office where I frequently saw other representatives who were totally unqualified. It turned into a ‘What makes me think they’re better than me? What makes me think I can’t do this?’ situation,” said Hunt.

Hunt identifies as bisexual and her family found out through social media.

“I think representation is important because we need strong, diverse people to look up to, that show that they can be important too. That shows they can be whoever they want to be despite how they identify,” said Joshua Moore, senior.

“[We] still haven’t really talked about [her sexuality], and I take that to mean it’s not a big deal to them. My friends have always been very accepting. I’ve never kept my sexuality a secret, but it’s not something I talk about a lot because it’s not really pertinent to the work I do. I know that’s a privilege—the ability to move in the world without having to explain my sexuality to others,” said Hunt.

Hunt was bullied as a kid for being bisexual and, even in 2018, has been called gay slurs when knocking on doors. She has developed a thick skin and understands that people who put her down don’t have control over her, she does.

“All of it has only motivated me to work harder to improve the lives of people who suffer much more terrible discrimination than I do. It’s important to me to use my platform today in service to other people whose voices are not being heard or respected,” said Hunt.

It’s hard for Hunt to give advice to the LGBTQ+ youth because she knows everyone’s experience is so different depending on their circumstances.

“Trans kids have different experiences than Bisexual kids, all of that is different across race, gender, and class, so it’s important to me that you know I can only speak from my own experience. The LGBTQ+ community is not a monolith, and what works for one person might not work for another,” said Hunt.

Hunt’s advice is to above all, “care for yourself. Preserve your physical and emotional health. Be gentle with yourself and kind to yourself. Never sell yourself short–you are good enough. Show the world why you matter, don’t wait for it to ask you. Being yourself is a brave act.”

Hunt is so encouraged by what she sees young people doing in terms of political engagement and civic activism.

Audrey Anderson, junior, believes it is extremely important to be politically active and engaged as a teenager.

“If politicians know our concerns and stances, they will be able to take that into account when making policy decisions. If we do not agree with their decisions, in a couple of years we will be able to help vote them out of office,” stated Anderson.

Hunt admires teens who use technology to share their voice. If she had had Tumblr in school growing up, she thinks she would have been a more compassionate and open-minded person much sooner.

“The kids posting there are so awake and aware of issues all over the world. I was just reading Newsweek in Library, but these kids are reading real-time tweets and posts and essays written by people in Kabul, Syria, Ferguson, and Flint, giving them the voice and language to react to political and societal issues that I didn’t even start to consider or understand until college,” said Hunt.

Hunt’s advice to those who want to become politically involved in the community is to start now by being helpful and looking for opportunities to volunteer. She hopes that young adults reach out in their community to meet with influencers, leaders, people who are doing what they want to do, and people who might have something to teach.

“Over the last several years of being part of the small business landscape in the Omaha area, I’ve learned that helping others is the best way to help yourself–it sounds beyond corny, but I really mean it. There is no way to find these opportunities without taking the risk to put yourself in situations with people who are new to you,” said Hunt.

Her message to women who are pursuing a career is that in the future of business women won’t just be visible in leadership roles, but they will have infiltrated and subverted them. Institutions don’t change just by underrepresented groups assimilating into them. Women will start to stop depending on these structures and begin to shape them.

Hunt doesn’t know the ending of the story, or the next chapter, but she’s certain that, “We are characters who will only gain the fulfillment, stability, and freedom that we pursue once we stop waiting outside the door.”