Although it may have surprised the three anti-gay protestors outside the Wortham Theater, Mayor Annise Parker's inaugural speech concentrated less on her historic election as the first openly-gay big city mayor and more on her goals to improve coordination among law enforcement agencies, expand public transportation, and improve school drop-out rates. In fact, the gay stuff didn't come out until halfway through her speech.
"Houstonians weren't very surprised that they elected the first gay mayor of a major American city," Parker told the packed theater. Standing on a stage with former mayors and newly elected city council members, as well as Councilwoman Jolanda Jones's ginormous hat, Parker said, "We have a tradition of electing mayors not for who they are, but for what they believe we can do as a city. But I do want to speak briefly to those from my community -- to those who are gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender: I understand how this day means to you. I can feel your excitement and your joy, but I can also feel 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. And when the time comes, I will gladly pass the torch to the next in waiting, and I will cheer for them as you do for me."
She continued: "Your bravery in the face of threat, your grace in the face of insult, sustains me. We will support each other. Do not fear to dream big dreams. Bring your whole self to everything you do. Face the world with dignity and integrity. I promise you, the pain is worth the reward."
Curiously, while Parker introduced her mother, children and extended family in the beginning of her speech, she did not single out her partner, Kathy Hubbard.
Perhaps Hubbard had slipped away to avoid the imminent destruction prophesied by Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of hatemongering Kansas minister Fred Phelps. Phelps-Roper was standing on a bench holding a sign featuring the catchy and inspiring "God Hates Fags," vastly outnumbered by counter-demonstrators holding "Gods Hates Cheeseburgers" and "God Hates Urinals" signs. She was joined by two of her eleven-strong brood, daughters Rebekah and Gracie, who held signs indicating that God not only hated homosexuals, but Jews as well. (They killed Jesus.)
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"We're here because we need to tell this nation, and Houston in particular, that your destruction is imminent," Phelps-Roper said. She said this destruction would spread to even those who didn't vote for Parker. In fact, the only people who will be spared, she said, are those who obey and serve the Lord.
Wanting to be absolutely clear about who will and won't be destroyed, Hair Balls asked if this applied to both tops and bottoms. That's when she began to look suspicious. Finally, we just asked "What if you're a fag who doesn't practice faggery?"
To which she replied, "Then you're not a fag, dummy."
Although there were only three protestors, Hair Balls couldn't help but note (like our colleague Bradley Olson over at the Houston Chronicle) that there were no security checkpoints inside the theater. Parker's staff gave the media covering the event generic, no-name, one-size-fits-all passes. We wish we could've gotten some for Phelps-Roper and her offspring...