She’s a long shot for Congress — but is trying to make history, anyway
It was the kind of summer afternoon every D.C. resident is familiar with: lazy in the sense that the air isn’t inclined to move, even under the whirring fan of a neighborhood bar; sweat pools at the backs of your knees if you sit down long enough.
But you wouldn’t know that by looking at Odessa Kelly.
When Kelly recently stepped into As You Are, a queer bar in Southeast D.C., she cut a cool, confident and very tall figure, wearing a white polka-dot blazer over a white T-shirt, skinny blue jeans and white loafers. And crowning her long locs was a massive pair of black headphones, from which she’d been playing Kendrick Lamar and Pusha T.
Since declaring her candidacy for Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District, the former college basketball player, public servant, activist and mother of two has been thinking a lot about how to best present herself.
“As an openly gay Black woman, 6-foot-tall, you know, masculine-leaning, I want to make sure I show up well,” said Kelly, 40.
If elected in November, Kelly would make history on multiple fronts: She would be the first Black woman to represent Tennessee and the first openly gay Black woman to be elected to Congress, ever. (This could be true of three other candidates this year: Aisha Mills and Queen Johnson in New York and Kimberly Walker in Florida, according to the LGBTQ political advocacy group Victory Fund.)