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.
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"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.