Elaine Noble is one of the earliest — and least well-known — LGBTQ trailblazers in American history. Noble became the first openly gay person to be elected to statewide office in America when she was elected to represent Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood in the Massachusetts General Assembly in 1974. She served from 1975 to 1979.
When she was asked on election night 1974 what the victory meant to her, she replied, “It means I have a job.”
“When I ran for political office, it was really important to me to be open about my gayness even though I felt a lot of pressure from people telling me to either downplay it or not say anything about it at all, and it was important to me because it was part of who I am personally, and it’s part of my politics, and I really didn't think I needed to play that game in order to win,” Noble said.
In an era when many people remained closeted, Noble said her ability to help others was something made possible for her by coming out: “You start with your own roots, then you’re able to extend yourself and help other people.”
Today, Noble lives a private life in Florida with her partner. In recent years, she helped fundraise for Palm Beach’s Compass LGBTQ community center.