By Gilbert Garcia
A big revelation for me at the Democratic National Convention was Linda Ketner, the Democratic nominee for the House of Representatives from South Carolina's 1st Congressional District -- who just happens to be an out-of-the-closet lesbian.
Only three open members of the LGBT community have ever made it to Capitol Hill and Ketner's campaign seems particularly remarkable given South Carolina's long-standing social conservatism.
"We don't have a Southern Strategy," Ketner jokingly told the LGBT Caucus last week. "I am the Southern Strategy!"
Ketner is an appealing mix of 21st-century progressive activism (forming a cooperative venture to help low-income families with their substandard housing) and Old-South charm. In discussing her tough race against Republican incumbent Henry Brown, she told the crowd, "Hang on to your bloomers. In the latest poll, we're four points ahead."
As an heir to the Food Lion chain, Ketner has financial advantages that many politically active gays and lesbians don't have, but the fact that she's making a strong bid for a congressional seat in South Carolina is a strong indication that this region no longer fits the old stereotypes.