Pittsburgh City Council President Bruce Kraus thought he was being recruited to be a delegate for Hillary Clinton to add to the LGBT delegate count.
“I said, ‘Before I accept the invitation, are you looking to bolster the LGBTQ representation on the delegation? And he said, ‘Oh no, Councilman. We’re actually looking to bolster our senior delegation,” Kraus recalled with a laugh. “I said, ‘Oh, kick me.”
The 62-year-old has Pittsburgh native has served on council since 2008, when he became the city’s first openly LGBT elected official. He and state Rep. Brian Sims of Philadelphia are the only two out elected officials serving as delegates to the DNC from Pennsylvania.
Kraus said the expected 600 delegates from around the country are key to shaping conversations on LGBT issue during the convention.
“I think it’s just paramount to have like-minded, experience people representing the community,” Kraus said. “I don’t know if someone who has not had the life experiences of an LGBTQIA person understands the importance of the issues the community faces on a daily basis.”
The benefit of being part of the senior delegated, Kraus added, is that he’s witnessed the many social evolutions the country has undergone in recent decades — which he said gives him a strong appreciation for the momentousness of this year’s DNC.
“I remember Stonewall. I remember the assassination of Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone and the idea that we as a nation had perhaps lost our minds because that was the same week as thousands died at the Jonestown massacre. I was 9 when John F. Kennedy was assassinated and I watched live on broadcast when Lee Harvey Oswald was shot. I saw Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy be assassinated, Vietnam. I remember the civil-rights movement vividly and the integration of schools,” Kraus said. “So my experiences clearly shaped my politics, and in my lifetime never would I have thought that I would see the things coming to be that are while I am still of an age to thoroughly enjoy them. And now, on the heels of the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality becoming the law of the land, I am about to go to Philadelphia as a delegate to cast a vote in this unbelievably historic nomination of, for the very first time, a woman nominee for president. I’m living the dream.”
That dream is set to be a busy one.
Kraus is a first-time delegate who said he’s heard from previous delegates about the frenzied nature of the week’s events.
“Those I’ve spoken with said it’s a whirlwind,” he said. “You just have to put your shoes on and go.”
Kraus said he’s confident the DNC will have a decidedly different tone than the recent Republican National Convention.
“On the heels of this trainwreck that was the RNC, with its picture of doom and gloom and chaos and rioting that only the narcissism of a candidate like Donald Trump can possibly fix, I’m looking forward to a very positive and can-do convention. The platform of the RNC is the most reversive, subversive, anti-LGBTQIA platform that’s ever been put forward. In light of the critical nature of this election, at least as far as LGBTQIA people matter, this is a crossroads, a defining moment, for our country.”