Meet Liliana Bakhtiari, Atlanta City Council’s First Openly Queer, Muslim Candidate

Photo: Michael A. Schwarz. Liliana Bakhtiari, at 29, is focused on implementing positive change for Atlanta’s queer community.

Atlanta is one of America’s most diverse, forward-thinking Southern cities. Of course, it still has its problems.

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“Kids would ask me how many goats I was going to be traded for on my wedding day.” Liliana Bakhtiari told Teen Vogue about her schooling in the highly-white Gwinnett County area near Atlanta. As one of only a few non-white students in her class, Bakhtiari knew from a young age what it was to feel like an outsider.

That’s why she’s choosing to run for a District 5 Atlanta City Council seat. As the child of second-generation and first-generation Iranian-American parents, Bakhtiari has seen firsthand how poverty, racism, and huge gaps in class representation can come to define a city. She’s also, at 29, already been around the world.

“I’ve done work with everyone from genocide victims to torture victims . . . to sex-trafficking victims,” she told Teen Vogue. “I worked with children who have been trafficked, as well as young women. And I did a lot of infrastructure work. I did a lot of building houses and composting toilets, and also did work around food accessibility and water scarcity, and a lot of environmental justice work.”

Bakhtiari also has already done her share of work with underprivileged communities in Atlanta, serving on the board of a nonprofit organization that seeks to aid LGBTQ+ homeless youth. If elected, she’ll take the work she’s already been doing and try to implement it on a city-wide scale. She’s been vocal about how Trump stands against “everything she is” and wants to fight against his destructive national policies by strengthening her own local government.

“If you don’t have a strong local government, if you don’t have a strong local community, then you can’t deflect a lot of the damage that’s about to come down nationally,” she was quoted as saying. “Democracy is only effective when you have every branch of government working to the level that they are supposed to perform.”

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