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West Virginia Republican state legislator comes out as gay

Josh Higginbotham, first elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 2016 when he was 19, said in a video that he had been out privately to some friends and family.

A young West Virginia state lawmaker came out as gay to his constituents in a video posted to his social media accounts Sunday.

Del. Josh Higginbotham, 24, who was first elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 2016, said he had been out privately to some friends and family members before he shared the information publicly this week.

In the two-minute video, Higginbotham said that he originally worried that his family would disown him for his sexuality but that they instead supported him.

"We made a decision as a family to be more open about it and make it public, because there's nothing wrong with it," he said. "I'm not ashamed of it. I'm not embarrassed by it, part of who I am. And I wanted to share this part about me with you."

Higginbotham said he remains a conservative Christian Republican and asked his constituents for their support.

"Nothing has changed other than now you know this about my personal life, whereas you didn't know beforehand," Higginbotham said. "I'm still the same guy you've voted for ... and I'll continue to serve the Kanawha Valley."

When he was first elected to the House, Higginbotham became the youngest member of the West Virginia Legislature, at age 19. He is in his third term and is vice chairman of the chamber's Education Committee.

Higginbotham was the only Republican delegate to vote against a bill that forces transgender students to play on sports teams according to the sex they are assigned at birth, as opposed to their gender identity. The bill passed both chambers and was approved by Gov. Jim Justice in April.