Danica Roem, the Democratic candidate vying to unseat Del. Bob Marshall, a 26-year incumbent known for his socially conservative views on gay rights, has been raking in donations from LGBTQ advocates from across the country ahead of the Nov. 7 election.
That’s at least partly why Roem’s candidacy raised the most money statewide in July and August, pulling in about $225,000, and is now ranked 10th in the state in donations raised overall, pulling in nearly $375,000.
So what’s she doing with the money?
Roem, 32, announced Monday night she’ll spend some of it on a six-figure digital and television ad buy featuring four different spots, one of which – “Inspire” -- aims to encourage LGBTQ teens by revealing parts of her daily routine as a transgender woman.
Roem says the ad was partly a response to Marshall’s comments in a recent Prince William Times story in which he questioned her gender. Those comments, Roem said, inspired her to use her platform to encourage LGBTQ kids who likely know all too well what it’s like to deal with unkind comments and slights.
The ad features cameos of three real-life teenagers from Prince William and Stafford counties and talks about the “millions” of transgender people living in the U.S. who “deserve representation.”
The ad opens with Roem standing in front of a bathroom mirror, taking her hormone pills and putting on make-up, as her voice-over says her identity “shouldn’t matter” because “it’s just who I am.”
The spot goes on to feature the students’ cameos, however, as she talks about the symbolism behind her historic run.
If Roem wins in November, she’ll be the first openly transgender candidate to win state office in the entire U.S.
“So, when I stand up on the State House floor and the speaker says, ‘the gentlewoman from Manassas,’” Roem says, as the teens pictures flash across the screen. “LGBTQ kids everywhere will know they can succeed because of who they are, not despite it.”
In an interview last week, Roem said she’s not sure the ad will be well received and could actually “inspire” a backlash.
Still, she said she realizes her campaign has given her an opportunity to encourage LGBTQ teens and she wants to take advantage of it.
LGBTQ kids, she said, “deserve elected officials who believe in them, who don't legislate against them, who insist on the words of St. Francis de Sales: ‘Be who you are and be that well.’”
“I hope this ad inspires everyone in our community -- no matter what they look like, where they come from, how they worship or who they love -- to celebrate their authentic sense of self in a more welcoming environment and a more inclusive commonwealth.”
Reach Jill Palermo at firstname.lastname@example.org