The Houston 'It-Getters'

Posted on 14 Dec 2009 at 2:19pm
Annise Parker with daughters Marquitta and Daniela
Annise Parker with partner Kathy Hubbard (left, in glasses) and  daughters Marquitta and Daniela (right)

On Saturday night, I was in Houston covering the Houston mayor’s race. The room was packed with supporters who believed their candidate was the most qualified.

During the campaign, Parker was open and honest about who she is, but stuck to the issues.

If a reporter asked, “Will these anti-gay attacks have any effect on your campaign?”

The answer from Parker or her campaign staff would be, “Houstonians don’t like these kind of personal attacks but we are focused on keeping our neighborhoods safe by putting more police on the streets.” Answer but then get back to the issues.

Three moments during the evening were my favorites. At a small press conference in the “War Room” after her acceptance speech and TV interviews, a big, burly police officer who had been part of her security detail through the campaign said, “Can I give my new boss a big hug?”

Earlier, there were two times while Parker was speaking that I was amazed.

During her speech, she said, “Tonight is important to every gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender person.”

The crowd of about 1,000 went wild. But it wasn’t her LGBT supporters who were cheering. They were in tears and unable to cheer. Three quarters of the supporters in the room were straight. They were the ones going wild. A room full of straight people yelling wildly about a night that was important to gay people. They got it. The whole room got it. I was in a big hall full of “it-getters.”

They were delighted for all of the gays and lesbians they had worked with and come to know on this campaign. They loved what her election meant to Houston. After events like Rainbow Lounge earlier this year, they embraced this image of Texas being beamed around the world. A week after the New York Senate went against the wishes of a majority of New Yorkers and turned their backs on gays and lesbians, Houston voted one in.

The crowd was wild. Straight people were cheering when told that this was a symbol that was important to gays and lesbians and bisexuals and transgenders.

The second longest cheer was for her family. First, Parker introduced her partner. Then she introduced her son Jovon, whom they have fostered since he was a teen, and Marquitta and Daniela, their adopted daughters. And finally her beaming mom.

This largely straight crowd was cheering for this beautiful, obviously loving, blended family. This no excuses, here-we-are, take-us-or-leave-us family. This our-family-is-as-good-as-yours family headed by two women. And the adoring crowd was wild. Because this family really was just an all-American, church-going political family that had just won a decisive election victory.

Too bad the gays and lesbians and bisexuals and transgenders in the room couldn’t join in the cheering. The sound in the room would have deafening if the rest of the room hadn’t been too choked up to holler.

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