December 14 2009 6:55 PM ET
“IS THIS THE IMAGE HOUSTON WANTS TO PORTRAY?”
The question, printed in all-caps hysteria for a November antigay political mailer, accompanied a photograph of Houston city controller Annise Parker taking the oath of office with her partner, Kathy Hubbard, at her side. It was a last-ditch attempt by opponents to deflate Parker’s historic mayoral candidacy in the nation’s fourth-largest city — one that has opposed past gay rights ordinances.
But for Houstonians who elected Parker over the weekend, the answer is, “You’re damn right it is.”
“Tonight the voters of Houston have opened the door to history,” Parker said in a Saturday night speech after defeating former Houston city attorney Gene Locke (her partner was again by her side, as were the couple’s two children). “I acknowledge that. I embrace that. I know what this win means to many of us who never thought we could achieve high office.”
In a post-election interview with Advocate.com, Mayor-elect Parker discusses gay activism, dirty campaign tricks, and her responsibility to the LGBT community — both in Houston and on the national stage.
Advocate.com: Congratulations on your hard-won victory.
Annise Parker: Thank you very much. I certainly haven’t had a lot of sleep.
You’ve asserted that while you are now seen as a national LGBT role model, you’ve also been a local gay rights role model for 30 years.
Yes, I was a founding member of [an LGBT] student support group in 1979 at Rice University. I’ve been a state cochair of the LGBT Democrats, and I’ve worked with the Houston GLBT Political Caucus. In the 80s I was arguably one of the most visible gay activists in Houston.