Houston’s mayor Annise Parker

I had no idea that the election of the first openly gay mayor of a major US city happened in Houston, Texas of all places. And this is her second term, having been first elected to that post in 2009 although she has held other elected posts in the city, such as city councilor and city controller, since 1998.

Considering that Houston, the fourth largest city in the US, is in one of the most reactionary and conservative states in the country, it is quite a remarkable thing that so many people were willing to ignore her sexuality and vote for her so that she won quite handily. I have never lived in Texas but have been told by many that Austin is the only enclave of reasonableness in that state but maybe Houston needs to be added to the list.

Stephen Colbert interviewed Parker recently.

(This clip appeared on July 18, 2012. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)


  1. wholething says

    Karl Rove helped George W. Bush get elected governor of Texas by starting a rumor that his opponent, Ann Richards, was a lesbian. Maybe Karl couldn’t keep himself from lying and started a rumor that Annise Parker was a heterosexual.

  2. Francisco Bacopa says

    The gay vote has been a huge factor in Houston politics since the mid 1970’s. I think since 81 or so only one mayor not endorsed by the Houston Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus has ever lost. Social conservatives have at times tried to thwart gay political power in the city, but have had almost no success.

    Inside loop 610, Houston is every bit as liberal as any place you’ll find in Texas. It’s mostly towering spires, the Texas Medical center, gritty Dixie-style inner city, a sprinkling of LA style varrios (and no, I didn’t misspell that), hipster hoods like Montrose and The Heights, and lots of limousine liberal big money.

    If you want to get a good look at the limo liberal culture of Houston, you cant do better than the film Rushmore. Screenwriters Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson grew up in that culture.

    I can’t say the city doesn’t have its problems. Times are still hard here, and those balanced budgets had a price. Plus you know that a city has problems when they can call a place The Heights because even though it is situated between two bayous (and you can tell I have deep roots in this city because I pronounce it “bah-oh”) it is a precious six more feet above sea level than downtown.

    The TV Tropes wiki gets things about right:


    Watch out about that link. TV Tropes will destroy your life.

  3. says

    Yeah, I’m kinda confused as to what major refers to. Over a million residents? Top 25?

    Pretty arbitrary, if you ask me.

  4. Mano Singham says

    It is interesting how people who live in cities tend to be more tolerant of diversity. Is it because people who live in such places encounter more diversity in their daily lives and come to see it as normal or is that people who are more tolerant of diversity are the ones who tend to move to cities?

  5. Mano Singham says

    Yes it is arbitrary. I would think that Portland would count as one, making it earlier than Houston.

    This reminds of how Cleveland claims that Carl Stokes was the first black mayor of a major city although I suspect that there were smaller cities that had black mayors before.

  6. astro says

    I think both. For those who grow up as children in cities, diversity is the default position. Those who grow up in less tolerant places, but have a natural tendency to seek out diversity and novelty, (like myself)move away from the more opressiove environs to the cities.

  7. Mano Singham says

    That is an encouraging response. Given the projections that the percentage of people living in cities is expected to steadily rise, it could mean accelerated levels of tolerance.

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