Frank Billingsley is used to answering tough questions. He predicts the weather for a living. The longtime weatherman for KPRC channel 2 is one of the most capable and well liked meteorologists in the city. But when he came out as openly gay and even married his partner in a ceremony in New York City recently where same-sex marriage is legal, it ruffled some feathers. Still, Billingsley doesn't really consider himself an advocate.
"Whenever any public figure speaks out on any topic, they put a face on the subject," he told Hair Balls via e-mail. "So for those who don't know anyone seeking marriage equality, then perhaps my face is as good as any -- but more and more people are realizing that someone in their life is gay. I think that's why there's been such a positive shift of support so quickly."
Monday evening, Billingsley will be the featured speaker at an event on the steps of City Hall in support of marriage equality -- quite a distance from reporting the weather, particularly in Texas. But, as Billingsley explains, Houston is rather unique.
"Houston is a city with such diversity that as a group we mostly just all want to get along," he said, "and the public appreciates authenticity in people -- they respect honesty."
The event is in recognition of the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court will consider two upcoming cases relating specifically to marriage equality -- Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act -- cases that bring to bear considerable pressure on both sides of the argument over whether or not gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry.
Billingsley was asked to speak a few words at the Houston rally about his recent marriage, agreed to do so and doesn't think it is a particularly big deal. However, this is normally not the sort of thing media outlets prefer to see from staffers. Advocating for a cause, particularly a controversial one, isn't necessarily good for business, but Billingsley says KPRC has been supportive.
"My management and colleagues alike have all sent their warmest wishes and congratulations," Billingsley told Hair Balls, "just like they would for anyone."
Given his long tenure as a meteorologist, we wondered about something a little closer to Billingsley's wheelhouse: the weather for the event.
"Sweater weather for Monday evening!!" he said.
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