Florida State Rep. Comes Out as Gay: "I'm Living My Truth"

Shevrin Jones, a three-term Florida lawmaker and son of a preacher, is speaking publicly about his sexuality.

Florida state Rep. Shevrin Jones has opened up about his sexuality for the first time.

Jones, a Democrat serving in Florida's conservative state legislature and the son of a preacher, came out to his family about five years ago, he recalled in an interview with the Miami Herald. After he and his ex-wife divorced in 2015, he kept his personal life out of the public eye. But his older brother's death last September spurred Jones, 34, to reflect on his own life trajectory.

"I was like, that could have been me," he said. "I could drop dead living behind the scenes of something that could have helped someone else. I started living my truth just a little bit more."

Friends and colleagues have known about Jones' sexuality (and his partner, whom he lives with in Hollywood, FL) for years. But with the wave of out politicians running for office this November—including Florida's Cedric McMinn, who could become the state's first openly gay black lawmaker elected into office—Jones felt he was ready to open up.

A few weeks ago, he made the decision to come out publicly, albeit subtly: He allowed former state Rep. Joe Saunders, political director at Equality Florida, to add his name to its roster of endorsements of openly gay politicians.

The move was a long time coming, though Jones' journey to self-acceptance wasn't easy. Raised in a conservative black neighborhood and traumatized by sexual abuse by a family friend in middle school, Jones married his ex-wife at age 26, even though he knew he was gay "back in kindergarten": "I got married and my ex-wife—I love her. She’s amazing. She even lives in my district—she and I were friends for 10 years at school. When I married her, I loved her then. But I loved her too much to continue to lie to her and lie to my family. I have to be honest."

Moving forward, Jones isn't sure how his constituents in majority red Florida will feel about re-electing an openly gay legislator. But he's willing to make sacrifices to live openly.

"Mark my words: Now that I’m living my truth, if I am never elected again, I’m OK with that," he told the Herald. "Because there are so many people right now who are in office, in places of high stature, who are not living truthful lives and they sleep with that lie on a daily basis. If me living my truth is a reason to vote against me or vote me out, then I’m OK with that."