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Former State Representative Discusses ‘Being Out in Politics’

Published on March 03, 2020

Former State Representative Discusses ‘Being Out in Politics’

Out in Politics
Politician Jason Bartlett discusses being out in politics to Eastern students. 

Eastern Connecticut State University’s Arthur L. Johnson Unity Wing and Pride Center recently hosted “Being Out in Politics.” The event was centered around Jason Bartlett, a former member of the Connecticut House of Representatives who served as the first black and openly gay state legislator in U.S. history. Bartlett represented Bethel, Redding and some of Danbury from 2007-11. During the event he discussed coming out in the world of politics at the age of 41 and how it impacted his work and personal life.

“I decided while at the University of Connecticut that I was gay,” said Bartlett as he discussed the difference between being out publicly and privately. He went on to say that he never thought he would come out in politics, thinking he would never get anywhere. Bartlett expressed how this impacted his personal relationships, as he couldn't be seen being romantic with his partner at social functions. However, at the age of 41, Bartlett decided it was time to put the rumors to rest and come out. After an interview with the Danbury News Times, the Associated Press and the Hartford Courant covered the story as well. “By the time I got to work the story had blown up nationwide,” said Bartlett.

After two terms in the Connecticut House of Representatives, Bartlett was defeated in 2010. He then went on to continue his work as a public servant, getting former mayor Tony Harp elected in New Haven and taking on his current role as the director of youth services in New Haven. Bartlett is also the proud father of two sons, who he adopted when his uncle passed away.

When talking to students, Bartlett encouraged them to get involved with the political process. “I encourage you all to work on a campaign,” he said, “to understand the process.” He also told students that it’s important to make sure that the progress made for the LGBTQ+ community does not move backwards. “The way you get to change is when you bring more people into the room,” said Bartlett.

Written by Molly Boucher

Categories: Pride Center