Orlando Gen Z progressive Maxwell Frost snags Teen Vogue cover

The local activist-politician is the first member of Gen Z and first Afro-Cuban elected to Congress.

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click to enlarge Orlando Gen Z progressive Maxwell Frost snags Teen Vogue cover
Maxwell Frost/Instagram

As House Republicans grapple with a house speaker contest that's now dragged on for the longest it has since the U.S. Civil War, local Gen Z Congressman-elect Maxwell Alejandro Frost is showing up (in print) for a national audience of young readers as the subject of Teen Vogue's latest cover story.

Stylishly clad in a Communications Workers of America union jacket, the 25-year-old progressive Democrat is "fighting from the heart," the cover reads, as the first member of Gen Z and first Afro-Cuban elected to Congress. Frost snagged 34% of the vote in a crowded primary last summer, then handily defeated Republican Calvin Wimbish, a retired Army Green Beret, in the November general election for the 10th Congressional District seat, formerly held by two-term representative Val Demings.

Stylishly clad in a Communications Workers of America (CWA) union jacket, the 25-year-old progressive Democrat is "fighting from the heart," per Teen Vogue

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"This whole thing feels really surreal," Frost told Teen Vogue in the wings of the Abbey downtown on election night, just before giving his victory speech. "It's crazy to think that the same streets I was arrested on two years ago [during the George Floyd protests], I'm about to represent in Congress.”

Frost, a progressive who raked in a slew of endorsements over the course of his campaign, ran the kind of bold, ambitious platform rarely seen in Florida these days, touting support for initiatives such as Medicare for All, a Green New Deal and ending gun violence. He gave the national magazine with an audience of millions an intimate inside look into his life, his ambitions, inspirations and what he aims to accomplish in Congress.

Frost on the cover - via Teen Vogue
via Teen Vogue
Frost on the cover
“We have a typical caricature of what a candidate for Congress looks like,” Frost told Teen Vogue. “Maybe it's, like, a lawyer, maybe you've been in office for a while. But I think we need more regular, working-class people running for office.”

Frost, who says he drove Uber during the campaign to help pay the bills, has been clear about his aims to stir things up in a way that serves the country's working class and disrupts the scourge of corporate influence and dark money padding the campaign pockets of Democrats and Republicans alike.

Although not a member of the informal "Squad" of left-leaning Democrats in Congress, it's safe to call Frost an ideological sibling to the likes of Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Cori Bush of Misssouri, a Black Lives Matter activist who became the state's first Black woman elected to Congress in 2020.

Frost has said he has "plenty of love and admiration" for the Squad, but shared last month that he isn't in a rush to join forces just yet. He's got his eyes set on national issues like housing. While the affordable housing shortage certainly affects some parts of the country more deeply than others, it has uniquely pummeled Florida — the Orlando area particularly — in a way that's devastated Florida's working families.

Frost himself has been open about his own struggles finding a place to live in D.C.

"Just applied to an apartment in DC where I told the guy that my credit was really bad. He said I’d be fine. Got denied, lost the apartment, and the application fee," Frost shared in a tweet last month. "This ain’t meant for people who don’t already have money."

A proponent of the labor movement, Frost has shown up on the campaign trail for others, including organizing Starbucks workers in the Orlando area, who are similarly shaking things up in a state frequently characterized as blazing red, a grim organizing landscape for labor, and disappearing into the sunset of the national Democratic apparatus's hopes and dreams.

Already, as House Republicans brawl over the House speakership, Frost — like many other Democrats with their heads in their hands — is telling it like it is. “While the House GOP stands around pointing fingers at each other, members haven’t even been sworn in yet, which means that we can’t set up our offices and we legally can’t help our constituents with their casework," said Frost in a press release. "Florida’s working families and people who need assistance with social security claims, veterans issues, small business grants and much more are all going without the help they deserve because of this."

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About The Author

McKenna Schueler

News reporter for Orlando Weekly, covering general news, local government, labor, housing, and other social and economic justice issues. Previously worked as a news anchor for WMNF in Tampa and a freelance journalist with works published in In These Times, Strikewave, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, and Facing South...
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