By James Thompson
HOUSTON – In this city which the mainstream media has painted as ultra-conservative, we celebrated the inauguration of a new, progressive mayor. Many Houstonians are proud of their new, openly gay, mayor. This represents a major advance for the interests of the LGBT community both in Houston and across the country. Houston is the largest metropolitan area to elect an openly gay mayor in the United States.
Joel Osteen, who is the pastor of Houston’s Lakewood church, gave thanks for Parker’s inauguration and stated “We honor her today and other elected officials.” Lakewood and Osteen are nationally known. His books are frequently on the best seller list.
A handful of right-wing protesters spewed anti-gay slurs in a shameful display outside the ceremonies. Their antics were largely ignored by all.
The ceremony was graced by music provided by an Inaugural Orchestra made up of members of the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and the Houston Symphony Orchestra, as well as singers from four local choirs.
Parker gave an inspiring 23 minute speech which acknowledged her upbringing in Spring Branch, a working class neighborhood, where her mother and father worked multiple jobs to support their family.
Her speech also referenced her campaign experience where she “kept meeting folks who reminded me of my own mother and father. Fathers worried about finding work, or struggling while working two jobs. Mothers worried about crime, about their children finishing school. Families worried about taxes. Homeowners who just want to protect the neighborhood they love.”
She went on to say, “The city of Houston is on your side. I firmly believe that our city’s future will be shaped by our citizens – not our politicians. I welcome your suggestions.”
Parker declared that she wants to address important community issues such as the city’s aging infrastructure, pension shortfalls and redistricting.
She spoke directly to the LGBT community and said, “I understand how much this day means. I feel your excitement and your joy, your apprehension and your longing for acceptance. I will gladly carry you forward. But today is simply one step toward a tomorrow of greater justice…”
Imagine that, in a city that George W. Bush’s father claims as his home town!