Recently, Belinda Drake sat down for an interview with the DeJuan Marrero Podcast about her life growing up in Gary, IN, and the challenges she faces as a young, African-American, LGBTQ+ female candidate running for State Representative of IN House District 89.
Listen to the full podcast here:
Below are some excerpts from the interview.
On how Belinda got into politics:
“You take everything you’ve experienced in life. Poverty, lack of healthcare, etc. You take those things and you try to help somebody else with it…I wouldn’t say I ‘got into politics’, I’ve just been a public servant my entire adult life.”
“I believe that my purpose is to serve. What better way to do that than to run for office? To influence those policies that have impacted my immediate community. That have impacted the next generation to come.”
“I’m a millennial, but there’s a new generation after me that’s looking up to me. I have nieces and nephews who are looking to me to pave the way, so they don’t have to experience the same things that I experienced in life. That they have access to equitable education. Access to adequate healthcare. So that they don’t have to be part of a broken criminal justice system.”
“It’s about doing purposeful work. Being out in the community. Hearing all the issues. Hearing all the challenges. And trying to take everything that I’ve learned and influence policy. To create a better space that we can all thrive in.”
“There is no blueprint for people like us. They didn’t teach us how to run for office. They didn’t teach us how to take everything we’ve been through and use it to help somebody else. So I have to try.”
“We created the hashtag #BelieveINBelinda to say that if you believe in me, it’s because I believe in you. Because I believe in the people. I believe in the community. I do believe we are our greatest asset.”
On attending the Trans Visibility March in D.C.:
“I just got back from the Trans Visibility March in Washington, D.C. We went out to Washington, D.C. and we had a march for our trans community. I am honored and thrilled to have been part of history. That was the first visibility march for the trans community, which is part of our LGBT+ community.
With everything that’s going on in the world, all the hate, no matter which community it’s brought upon, it’s just something I cannot sit on. Too often, I continue to hear that someone of the trans community has been killed and we continue to sweep it under the rug. So I said ‘I’m going to go out and support them.’ Just like I stand for every other community that I belong to.
There were thousands of people marching in the streets of D.C. To be transparent, I was scared. I was scared, excited, overwhelmed – but at the same time, honored to be there.
The fact that I’m living in purpose and being an advocate and an activist, and actually putting what I believe in into action on a consistent basis – that’s a blessing. Not everybody gets to do that.
At the end of the day, history was made.”
“I hope that we can continue to be allies – and what that means is that you may not specifically belong to every community that I belong to, but I know that you care about people. We have to continue to win with love, to act kindly and be nice to each other. At the end of the day, we’re all human beings, regardless of how we love.”
On challenges Belinda faces on the campaign trail:
One of the challenges of running for State Representative in the state on Indiana is that I’m an African-American open lesbian. I’m black and I love women. Indiana is still conservative. So I have to question sometimes, ‘Do I wear this?’ ‘Do I say that?’ ‘How do I wear my hair this time?’
Just being my authentic self can be a challenge and getting my own communities to embrace me. Meaning, for my African-American community to love me as I am black, regardless of how I love. To get my non-LGBTQ+ communities to love me as a female, as I am. To get my LGBTQ+ community to love me and embrace me, even though I might dress differently.”
On running for office as an openly LGBTQ+ candidate:
“It’s scary. You have to be brave, living in Indiana. But that’s a part of who I am. That’s not only who I am though. My whole story is who I am.”
On assembling the campaign team:
“When I put together my campaign team, I didn’t take your typical political people. Prior to making the final decision to run for state rep, I started to notice different people in the community. I believe we are our greatest asset.”
“I just took what was already out there, people from the community, and we put together a team of about 6 people. That part is overwhelming sometimes. It’s like ‘How did I come into contact with all these great people who I believe in?’
We can’t do it ourselves. It’s organic.
When we’re walking in purpose, we never know who we’re going to make contact with along this journey that we’re taking in life. Try to be a beacon of light and positive energy wherever you go, and you’ll attract the same type of spirits. Nothing is coincidence.”
On her mother:
“I have nothing but gratitude and respect for my mother. She raised us as a single mom, myself and my younger brother and sister. And she raised us in Gary, IN – not the current Gary, IN that’s coming along. The Gary, IN during the murder capital time.
She was a single, teenage mom when she had me. I’m so glad that she chose me. Being a mom at a young age, you have to face a lot of challenges. So every day I tell her that I love her and that I’m grateful that she chose me.“
Belinda’s advice on succeeding in the face of adversity:
“To anyone in life that’s faced with adversity, stay focused, keep grinding, be consistent, and most importantly, believe in yourself.”
Interested in supporting Belinda’s movement?