Houston Mayor Annise Parker: ‘Being Gay Isn’t Tough – It’s Who I Am’


Annise Parker, the first openly gay mayor of a U.S. city with over one million people, opened up to journalist Diane Brady to open up about what it's like to be an out and proud public servant in Houston.

Here's a sample of what Parker, whose sexual orientation once caused a scandal, had to say:

People assume the toughest decision in my life was coming out. But being gay isn't tough—it's who I am. What's been tough is learning how to be social, and how to adapt to public life.

I don't get death threats anymore, but I still have to work at being comfortable with the public part of the job. There are so many more images of gay and lesbian people today, and so many ways to be gay. I'm a middle-aged soccer mom and I appear in public with my spouse of 20 years and my kids. It's hard to make me scary. When the job is over for the evening, I go home and pull up the drawbridge. It's a relief when the scrutiny isn't there. But being honest about my personal life pays off every day. 

That line, "It's hard to make me scary," should be put on a gay rights t-shirt.


  1. JEFFREY in the Bronx says

    Anise Parker PROVES that what comes out of TEXAS is NOT best for the United States. What planet does this fool live on? She’s like a lesbian George Bush, all ego and nothing else.

    Given the rash of gay suicides that have been covered in the media; and the more unfortunate reality of LGBTQ suicide rates; I think what she said is really heartless. Great, Anise!; Glad to know you’re tougher than nails and find being a leasbian EASY-BREEZY (fuck you!).

    Given the rash of high-profile national stories of gay youth suicides–her comments are HEARTLESS and CRUEL!

    The truth is, Anise, for many LGBTQ persons–it’s SOOOOOO impossibly tough to be gay/lesbian/queer, especially in HOUSTON, (no less) so much so that, many of us will kill ourselves before our 18th birthday, or slowly kill ourselves with alcohol, drug abuse, sexual addictions, willingly acquire HIV or god-knows what else.

    So glad, she presents herself as a certifiable, Tevlar-laced made of nothing but steel, alpha-dyke. She should be so proud to be the braggert who boasts herself as better than the rest of us. May she deserve the nails she gets hammered into her coffin and learn a thing or two about humility in the process.

    it would have been better had she brag less about her invincibility and talked MORE about the vulnerability of so many LGBT children who are thrown away like trash in Texas, a person like myself who survived a very hard Texas childhood.

    Tough my ass, FUCK YOU, anise.

  2. JEFFREY in the Bronx says

    correction: I meant ‘Kevlar’ not “Tevlar”. I got caught up in emotion, but mean everything my angry fingers typed, except that typo. Fuck you, again, Anise. But this time with no exclamation.

  3. Tim says

    So your solution to all of these suicides, Jeffrey, is to get rid of every happy, confident gay person in the world? Should we all cave to the pressure of this life we were given and just give up?

    Kids need strong, successful role models to look up to in order to establish a healthy sense of self. Your personal train wreck of hatred and self-loathing is not needed.

  4. JEFFREY in the Bronx says

    Dear Tim;

    If you are a gay man:

    Have you ever lost/been fired (from) a job/promotion for being gay, been harassed?, have never been sexually abused?, physically abused?, emotionally abused?, disowned by your family? chased out of your community? Had your home/car/pets violated?, become infected with HIV?, survived suicide attempts?, drug addictions?

    No, well then, good for you, Tim. Good for you–but most of us have experience in at least one of the above or know a dear friend(s) in at least one of those categories–all because of who we are, G-A-Y.

    My criticism is valid. Unpleasant to read? Yes.

    I’m not a “personal train wreck of hatred and self-loathing” for expressing my anger–IT’S VALID.

    I strongly disagree with her opinion and given her newly found high-profile status find her flippancy extremely dangerous.

    My issue is about the quote of ‘being gay is not tough.’ I’m glad you apparently had a wonderful childhood and adulthood as gay person (presumption), I’m so glad you didn’t have to survive AIDS in the 1980’s, 90’s or–sadly 2000’s for that matter, but many of us did, and as LGBTQ teen suicide rates become more available, and rising HIV infection rates (especially among minorities) of Gay men rise; I think I have a basis in saying what I did.


    If you have such a blessed life, Tim, count your blessings and don’t offer such hateful words to brother who has been through so much. And if you think you’re so much better than me, than help me, show me the light with words than can lift me up, not bring me down.

    Be well, Tim.

  5. Joe says

    @Jeffrey, I’m from Houston and I agree with you. Growing up, unless you were flaming and pretty obviously gay, it was hard to come out as gay. Those kids never got fun of to their face in my high school (though they certainly got talked about) but they were thought of as less then “men” a stigma I never wanted to attach to me. It is something that I struggled with.

    But, with Parker as our mayor I have to imagine that it is a lot better for kids to have that gay role model (I never really had anyone I felt I could look up to other than television/movie characters). While her opinion may not be one that is widely felt, it is her opinion, and in a way it says “its okay to come out as gay.”

    What does bother me though is that she says it has been tough learning how to be social and adapt to public life – which for me just drives home the point that while she may be out and proud, she can only rarely mention it and its an important part of her image that she never pushes it in people’s face (something I think many Houstonians are willing to overlook even if they are uncomfortable with it). Unlike a lot of other politicians she doesn’t talk about her partner too much.

    But overall, she makes me proud to say that I’m from Houston when I tell people I’m from Texas and they start to make assumptions. It may not have been a tough decision (something I suspect she is underselling), but saying “it’s a part of who I am” is important – since young kids will see its okay to be gay and successful.

  6. GraphicJack says


    I’m sorry you’ve had a rough time.. I did too and most of us have in the past. However, what you are getting from Anise’s comments is not how I am reading it, but everyone’s entitled to their own spin on it.

    What I think she means to say, and this is only my opinion, is that being gay in of itself is not tough, it’s the attitudes of others towards us that makes it tough. She mentions that she not getting death threats “anymore” which implies she’s gone through some rocky stuff in the past. She’s just not playing victim and she’s saying that when you come out, it’s easier to have self-respect and dignity.

    I agree with Tim when he says it’s a good thing when we have smart, successful role models who are out, proud and are not playing the victim card. She’s not saying being gay in this world isn’t tough (and it’s important to report the flip side when others get beaten, murdered or bullied to the point of suicide, too), she’s just saying coming out to herself and being gay in of itself isn’t tough… at least not anymore. That’s how I took it… does that make sense?

  7. DougChgo says

    Thanks, GraphicJack, for your response to this story. How many times have we heard people say that coming out was the best thing they’ve done, that coming made them feel free? Mayor Parker’s response is just her way of saying that.

    As far as her finding the public part of her life to be the tough part, I have seen that time and time again with people in the public eye: they do their job in public, but they need time in private to regroup and recharge — they can’t be “on” all the time.

    I didn’t get anything negative or disrespectful out of her comments at all.

  8. steven says

    RE: JEFFREY in the Bronx … and the other whiny “life is so hard” weenies… Can I point you in the direction of the GW bridge?

    POSTED BY: ROYY | OCT 1, 2010 10:21:44 AM


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