Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-06-24
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



ELECTIONS 2020 Southern exposure: Gay man running for U.S. Senate in Kentucky
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

U.S. Senate candidate Jimmy Ausbrooks stands out for several reasons in his Kentucky, whether it's because of his mental-health background—or because he's the only openly gay person running in a Democratic primary field of 10. ( The Kentucky primary elections are slated for Tuesday, June 23, with the winner going up against the Republican victor, who will probably be incumbent U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. )

Ausbrooks—a self-described "open book"—recently talked with Windy City Times about his qualifications, his electoral race and President Trump.

Windy City Times: Could you talk a little bit about your background?

Jimmy Ausbrooks: Sure. I'm a native of Kentucky. I'm the first person in my family to graduate from college. I went into customer service for almost 20 years. I've been a small-business owner and a private consultant. I went back to school to earn my master's in counseling, and now I'm a licensed professional counselor serving in my rural community.

I got my undergraduate degree in government, and interned with the Washington Center in 1996. I worked in the DNC Committee Chairman Don Fowler's office during the '96 Democratic National Convention. [The following year,] I was invited by Sen. Wendell Ford to attend the Inauguration of President Bill Clinton. I've been in and out of politics for a number of years.

Also, I serve on the board of the Kentucky Counseling Association, I am president of the Kentucky Association for LGBT Issues in Counseling and I'm a former vice president of the South Central Kentucky Mental Health Counseling Association—so I've been a mental-health advocate for the LGBTQ community for more than 25 years.

WCT: There are at least 10 Democratic candidates…

JA: …and nine Republican candidates, including Mitch McConnell.

WCT: So what, besides being the only openly LGBTQ candidate, distinguishes you from your Democratic opponents?

JA: Good question. One of the things that separates me is that I'm in the mental-health field, and with the state of the healthcare system, the pandemic, the rise of substance abuse in mental health… I'm a big believer in term limits so, to me, this term is about healthcare and I'm the only one who's in the system—so I work [constantly] with insurance companies and individuals who need help. That's where I'm able to move things forward, because I'm able to advocate for them on a level that none of the other candidates can.

If we were at war, I would 100-percent be supporting one of our veteran candidates: They've been there and they've done it. But in this era, I think I'm a suitable candidate. I won't say I'm the best candidate, but I'll say I'm a suitable one. I know how the system is working and I know how it's broken.

WCT: You said you believe in term limits, so how many would you serve?

JA: I wouldn't serve more than two. Again, it's going to be me being more conscious about what's going on in six years. If, in six years, there's another candidate who could handle the current crisis better than me, I would step back. I'm not doing this for a career, fame or fortune. [Laughs]

WCT: I'm curious about where you fall regarding gun rights and ownership.

JA: As a native of Kentucky, I respect and value the gun. But we have to exercise common sense. We don't need certain weapons—nobody does. I don't plan on having a militia anytime soon. [Laughs] Be trained to use a gun and require a license. Be required to store the gun in a proper way. I'm an advocate for the Second Amendment, but we have to use common sense when we have guns.

WCT: Your background, as you mentioned, is in counseling and mental health. What was Congress gotten right and wrong regarding mental-health legislation?

JA: Well, I do they appreciate that they've started to recognize that we need mental-health professionals. We don't need one mental-health counselor for every 700 people; we probably need one for every 50.

What are they doing wrong? For example, I'm a licensed professional counselor, and I can't bill Medicare. We have advocated for us to be able to do so—and we can't. That's something I want to pass when I get into office: an expansion of mental-health providers, expansion of substance-abuse treatment programs and the ability to bill Medicare.

We have [people] in jail who should be in treatment. Living in a square box isn't addressing the real issue.

WCT: Let's talk about the coronavirus. How has this pandemic affected your campaigning?

JA: Well, being an unknown candidate, appearances are vital—and now we don't have them. We were fortunate enough to have one forum March 5 in northern Kentucky that raised [my profile] a little bit; I was on stage with Amy McGrath, Mike Broihier and Charles Booker. That was the first public appearance for me.

As I still see different reports and media coverage, I'm still being mentioned. I was in Teen Vogue a couple weeks ago—that was cool. [Laughs] I only got half a sentence, but it's still name recognition. In Kentucky, which is typically red and very conservative, gay people don't get much coverage unless it's something negative.

I was also supposed to start an LGBT-support group but the coronavirus has stopped that, for the time being.

WCT: So regarding LGBTQ rights, Kentucky is …

JA: Closeted. [Laughs] Everybody I know recognizes that we are just like them; yet, no one is willing to step up and pass legislation. Over 25 years ago, I walked the first Fairness Ordinance into the city of Bowling Green, Kentucky, as a sophomore in college. We still don't have protections in my community or Bowling Green in the areas of housing and employment. There are only about a dozen communities in the entire state that offer any type of protection.

WCT: What would you say is the biggest problem for the LGBTQ community?

JA: For me, it's that I'm not being represented across the board. We're not getting protection. Mitch McConnell has had the Equality Act sitting on his desk for, what—a year now? It's just collecting dust.

We need to be recognized as vital parts of our communities, and we need protection. I've had first-hand experience being discriminated against because of my sexual [orientation]; I've lost jobs, housing.

WCT: Let's say that you win the Democratic primary and McConnell wins the Republican one. How would you assess your chances of defeating him?

JA: I think people are tired of not being a priority, and tired of him only coming to a community every six years. I can sit down with just about any family in the state, and I can relate. I live paycheck to paycheck and I have $180,000 in student-loan debt. When somebody says they're struggling, I know what that means; I don't think Mitch McConnell can do that.

Second, I'm not a polished politician or public speaker. I speak from the heart. People can see that my passion is genuine.

WCT: If you ask our current president one question and be guaranteed to get the truth, what would that question be?

JA: I think my question would be "Who do you think you are?" I mean, is he a president, a king, a god—or what? I respect the office of president—but I could never respect Donald Trump.

WCT: Is there anything you would like to add about yourself or your campaign?

JA: Here's a statement: "I'm a pro-woman's choice, healthcare-for-all, climate change-believing, minimum wage-raising, veteran-respecting, LGBTQ-embracing, immigration-reforming, teacher-supporting, student loan-forgiving, pay gap-eliminating, Universal Basic Income-endorsing, common-sense gun laws-legislating Democrat, and I am running for the United States Senate."

See for more about Ausbrooks.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Morrison and Preckwinkle host online LGBTQ health forum 2020-07-05 - Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison and Board President Toni Preckwinkle were joined by advocates from three local organizations for a conversation about LGBTQ ...

Gay News

Experts weigh impact of judiciary on LGBTQ rights 2020-07-02 - A panel consisting of prominent legal and public policy officials met June 23 to discuss recent developments in LGBTQ legal advocacy, particularly as ...

Gay News

LGBTQ activists, leaders respond to police meeting 2020-07-02 - A Chicago Police Department off-the-record Zoom meeting June 30 with hand-picked leaders from LGBTQ organizations and new CPD Superintendent David Brown resulted in ...

Gay News

State law takes effect to strengthen Illinois workplace non-discrimination 2020-07-01 - Illinois' foundational civil rights law will now protect more workers from discrimination as a new statute to strengthen the Illinois Human Rights Act's ...

Gay News

Gov. Pritzker issues Pride proclamation 2020-07-01 - On June 30, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker marked Pride Month with a statement of celebration. "Thanks to the tireless help of advocates and ...

Gay News

21st Ward holds own Pride event 2020-07-01 - Chicago's 21st Ward—an area on the city's South Side that includes neighborhoods such as parts of Auburn Gresham, Washington Heights, Gresham, Chatham and ...

Gay News

LETTER: The U.S. Census important to LGBTQ community political, economic power 2020-06-27 - We've all seen the messaging about the Census and many of us might just wonder whether completing it truly makes a difference. ...

Gay News

Lambda files suit over Trump anti-trans policies 2020-06-26 - Lambda Legal announced June 22 that it is suing the federal government over rollbacks the Trump administration announced June 12 to protections against ...

Gay News

Assistance available to businesses affected by civil unrest 2020-06-26 - Illinois businesses and residents affected by civil unrest on May 26 through June 8 can apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. ...

Gay News

NCLR celebrates five-year anniversary of Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality 2020-06-26 - WASHINGTON, DC — The National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) today joins with millions of LGBTQ people and allies in celebrating ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.