Howard J. Bayless III is an American healthcare professional and politician from Birmingham, Alabama. On October 9, 2007, he was elected to the Birmingham Board of Education, making him the first openly gay man elected to public office in the state of Alabama.
A product of Birmingham City Schools, he graduated from L. Frazier Banks High School in 1983. He went on the University of Montevallo and, years later, to Saint Francis University. Since 1989, he has worked at Bradford Health Services, a healthcare organization that provides substance abuse services to patients across Alabama and the southeastern United States.
A Crestwood resident since 1994, he ran in 2007 to replace Mike Higginbotham on the Birmingham School Board, representing District 3. Facing Earnest J. Lumpkin III, he won handily: gathering 4,059 votes (77.9%) to his opponent's 1,154 (22.1%). In so doing, he became the first openly gay man and only the second openly LGBT person elected to public office in Alabama (Patricia Todd had been the first, elected to the state House of Representatives in 2006).
He has held leadership positions in Equality Alabama, the Equality Fund of Alabama and the Equality Federation, as well as volunteering with many other organizations. His 2007 campaign won the support of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.