As 2021 comes to a close, 29-year-old Adrian Tam reflects back on a successful year.
Tam, a gay Chinese American, first made headlines when he beat out incumbent Tom Brower in the 2020 Democratic Primary in Hawaii’s 22nd district. After defeating Brower with 51.9% of the vote, Tam faced Nicholas Ochs, the leader of Hawai’i’s chapter of the Proud Boys, in the general election. Despite racist and homophobic tirades, Tam prevailed and won in a landslide, receiving 67.9% of the vote.
Since then, Tam has been committed to bringing his community together.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Blade, he shared, “There wasn’t a community in our district before. It was predominantly condominiums, so most people stayed within their little associations. But we really brought them out, whether it was community policing or community events, like vaccination clinics.”
Two of Tam’s bills, one dealing with real estate investment and the other providing more protections for homeless youth, have passed. These achievements have been a big win for the first-year lawmaker to clear.
Tam is particularly proud of the second one, H.B. 282, which allows unaccompanied homeless minors to be sent to shelters. He explained, “Hawai’i is a right to shelter state, but it fell short in protecting minors.”
Homelessness is not only a problem in Tam’s district, but it is also a problem across the entire state. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Hawai’i had the second-highest rate of homelessness in the country. Many are native Hawaiians and those from the LBGTQ+ community.
Tam wants to address that. During his first year in the statehouse, he noticed that there was no group of lawmakers dedicated to LGBTQ+ issues. He told Blade, “We have a women’s caucus. We have a Filipino caucus. We have a children’s caucus. We have a senior citizens caucus. We have a deaf and blind task force. But no caucus that addresses the needs of the LGBTQ+ community.”
Though he has yet to complete his first term, Tam is committed to being the kind of politician who lives by what they promise.
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