First Advisor

Jack Miller

Date of Award

Spring 6-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Political Science and University Honors


Political Science




Sexual minority political candidates -- Oregon, Campaign management, Self-disclosure, Lesbians in mass media, Political campaigns -- Oregon, Coming out (Sexual orientation)




This qualitative study examines the strategies employed by openly lesbian political candidates in navigating the disclosure of their sexual orientation within campaign media content during the Oregon 2022 election cycle. The project uses Tina Kotek, a candidate for Oregon governor, and Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a candidate for Oregon House District 5, as case studies. The thesis comprises of four main sections, each focusing on a specific aspect of campaign media content: analysis of the biography sections on each candidate's campaign website, examination of two selected social media posts from each candidate, analysis of two television advertisements for each candidate, and a scrutiny of the candidates' appearance and apparel throughout their campaigns.

The study reveals that openly queer candidates face the delicate task of striking a balance between celebrating their identity, while simultaneously avoiding alienation of voters who hold biases against LGBTQ individuals. It is evident that the degree to which candidates choose to emphasize their sexual orientation varies depending on the political climate of their district. Findings indicate that Kotek, appealing to a less conservative electorate, is more comfortable in expressing her sexual orientation openly. Jamie McLeod-Skinner, situated in a more conservative district, must employ more nuanced strategies to navigate the disclosure of her sexual orientation.

This research contributes to the understanding of LGBTQ representation in political campaigns, shedding light on the challenges faced by openly lesbian candidates in shaping their public image while remaining authentic and relatable to a diverse electorate. It provides valuable insights for future campaigns involving LGBTQ candidates, highlighting the complex dynamics between sexual orientation, electoral strategy, and public acceptance.


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