After a landslide victory, a gay service member who once wore heels in a Veteran's Day parade is the new mayor of a small Texas border town.
Democrat Bruno “Ralphy” Lozano captured more than 60% of the vote in the May 5 mayoral election in Del Rio, Texas, located about 110 miles west of San Antonio. His opponent, Republican incumbent Robert Garza, picked up just 38%.
Lozano is the first openly gay elected official in the town of fewer than 41,000 people. And, at 35, he's also its youngest mayor.
Prior to seeking office Lozano worked to clean up local waterways. He ran on a platform of bringing back tourism to Del Rio, as well as making investments in culture and infrastructure.
While serving in the Air Force, Lozano's job was to enforce "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," informing LGBT service members when they were being discharged. He described the role as "heartbreaking" to Into
"I am not ashamed of who I am, so I chose not to reenlist," he added. "I kept going. I moved on with my life."
Lozano says he often wears women’s shoes when he travels. When he donned pumps to march in the Veteran's Day parade last year, women and teenage girls showered him with hugs and praise. But after the parade, a meme circulated featuring pictures of him in heels and a tutu, and text calling him a “faggot” with AIDS. Lozano brushed off the incident, and his orientation didn't appear to have an impact on the race.
“Stonewall happened because drag queens and a minority group stood up to animosity, and I had to go back in the closet because of that same hatred,” Lozano told Into. “I know what that was like, and it translates to today’s campaign. I’m not going to bow down. I am who I am. Accept me or not.”