First Openly Bisexual (and once Homeless) Member of Congress Sworn In

Sunday, January 06, 2013
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema

Her sexual orientation has made her a historic figure already, but there’s much more to Kyrsten Sinema than just being the first openly bisexual member of Congress.


Elected to the 9th congressional seat from Arizona, the Democrat didn’t even know if she won her race until almost a week after Election Day. In the end, she beat her Republican and Tea Party opponent, Vernon Parker, by 10,000 votes or 4%.


Sinema, 36, served in the state legislature before running for Congress. Before that, she served as a social worker and a lawyer.


The financial struggles she endured as a child motivated her to overachieve. After growing up in a Mormon family, she experienced homelessness in the 1980s following her mother’s divorce, which forced her family to live in an abandoned gas station for two years.


She graduated from college at 18, and just recently earned doctorate.


“Sinema is a bracingly unfiltered talker, a precocious achiever, a high-energy persuader, an adjunct professor, a lawyer, a marathon runner, a lover of designer clothes,” Manuel Roig-Franzia wrote about her in The Washington Post. “She is a holder of many, many degrees—this she’s happy to tell you in a humble-braggy sort of way. And she can be a lot of fun to hang out with, a rambling, kind of kooky monologist who can pivot from whimsical and wacky to substantive and earnest without a pause.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Kyrsten Sinema: A Success Story Like Nobody Else’s (by Manuel Roig-Franzia, Washington Post)

Sinema, First Openly Bisexual Member of Congress, Represents 'Changing Arizona' (by Peter O’Dowd, NPR)

Congress Gains First Gay Father (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


Leave a comment