Monday, December 14, 2009

A Trans Houstonian Reflects On Annise's Win

TransGriot Note: My latest post for the Bilerico Project;

As many of you Projectors already know, Annise Parker handily won her runoff election race against city attorney Gene Locke Saturday night to become only the second woman elected as mayor of my hometown.

It was a watershed moment in GLBT history and GLBT politics as well as Houston became the largest city in the United States and the first in the Lone Star State to elect an openly gay mayor.

And best of all for me as a proud Houstonian and Texan, we beat Dallas to that distinction.

Hey, the rivalry between Houston and Dallas never dies.

Even though I was a thousand miles away at the time and bummed about it, I was still proud to see someone from our GLBT community rise to the highest office in our city.

In addition to her impressive political resume and compelling story, Annise has been a friend to the Houston trans community and had our back on our issues. She's a straight shooter who talks the talk and walks the walk. The Houston trans community enthusiastically supported her and volunteered in her successful city council runs in 1997 and 1999. Many of those vets were back for this nearly year long campaign.

Annise's election emphatically makes the case for something that I continually point out to people who live in blue states and have the misguided impression that relocation to GLBT meccas is the way to advance our cause.

We shouldn't be abandoning 'red states' to right wingers and never should have in the first place simply because they aren't San Francisco, Los Angeles or New York.. In some cases the advances in TBLG rights, LGBT history, BTLG culture, and GLBT politics have come out of red states.

GLBT people live all over this country, including 'red states'. Many of us grew up in locales like Houston and Texas and have mad love for them. It gives us the impetus and the incentive to want to stay, fight and do the work to make them better, more progressive places to live.

And in many cases, because we 'red staters' have organized Christohaters in our midst that hate all of us GLBT peeps equally, we're better organized politically and as a community than you 'blue staters' to work in an intersectional manner.

We red staters have to have all hands on deck efforts in many cases just to keep our passed civil rights from being rolled back in referenda or restricted in the first place.

We don't have time to engage in the internecine warfare that roils some GLBT communities in blue states, and as we painfully found out in Houston in the early 80's, the only people we hurt when we do engage in it is ourselves.

Annise's election also sends the message that just because you are a GLBT red state resident, it doesn't disqualify you from serving in your city council, your county commission, your city's mayor's chair, your school board or your state house as long as you are open and honest about your life.

It's time for qualified GLBT peeps in red and blue states to dream big and aim higher politically.

Ray Hill, the dean of the Houston GLBT activist community, said this in the Houston Chronicle about Annise's win. “For me, it means 43 years of hard work has finally paid off. “For Houston, it means we have finally reached the point where being gay cannot be used as a wedge issue to divide the community and prevent us from reaching our aspirations. Annise Parker is not our mayor — she is the city's mayor.”

Damned right she is. She represents 2.2 million people, not just Montrose.

But I can't help still seeing at times the person I met at the Houston trans community's Unity Dinner and smiling about it.

It is going to be so cool to see Annise on January 1 standing in the Wortham Center once again standing next to Kathy, holding up her right hand, but this time taking the oath as the 61st mayor of Houston.

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