Politics and Pride
How many U.S. cities have a mayor with such a sense of humor that she would allow herself to be made up like a 1950s housewife for the cover of the Kansas City Gay Pride Guide? You know the answer. But we’re glad that Mayor Kay Barnes isn’t afraid to step outside of the bounds of conventional photo shoots.
When we wrote to Mayor Barnes to ask her to do this, we figured she’d probably be evaluating this decision with her colleagues and advisors to see if there might be any fear of negative repercussions. But maybe not. Perhaps Mayor Barnes has been around our LGBT community long enough in her tenure, not just as mayor but also as a private citizen, to know that this was going to be great fun and a real celebration of Gay Pride.
Mayor Barnes showed up at our office after a long day of work, smartly dressed in a nice pantsuit, hair coifed, totally ready for a photo shoot just the way she was. Little did she know! Our photographer and stylist, Dusty Cunningham and Andrew Chambers had a full selection of ‘50s dresses and aprons, a wig, jewelry and an entire makeup satchel just waiting for their model. Mayor Barnes was a good sport. We deeply thank her for being the first mayor of Kansas City on the cover of the Gay Pride Guide.
A cynic might say that this was an easy decision for Mayor Barnes. After all, she’s in her second and final term as Mayor of Kansas City, so what did she have to lose? We think the real truth is that Mayor Barnes knows that Gay Pride brings in much revenue for her city, and it represents a festival for her LGBT citizens. We’re no more important than other community groups—but, and this is what matters, no less important either.
The Pride weekend will feature several politicians speaking to all of us at the Festival. Why wouldn’t they be at Pride? They know the Festival draws well over 10,000 voters. And isn’t that the point? Could there be any better reason to register and vote? Our numbers can swing an election in a candidate’s favor. And they know that well.
The August 8 elections in Kansas City will feature Jolie Justus, an attorney, community activist, and openly lesbian woman, running for the Missouri 10th District seat now held by former Kansas City mayor Charlie Wheeler. Jolie Justus needs your support (see story on page 5). We hope her opponents take the high road and stick to the issues and do not resort to attacks on her sexual orientation. But we’ve seen that happen before in other cities and states with openly gay political candidates where candidates run on platforms of “family values” that are not inclusive of the LGBT community.
Although it’s early to talk about the 2008 Presidential election, the candidates that are evaluating running for office know fully well that it’s going to be a bitter battle to see if the Republicans stay in power or the Democrats take charge. The 2007 Gay Pride Festival will no doubt be even more politicized as we draw closer to some very important national, state, and local elections.
So for this Gay Pride: Have fun. Celebrate all that Gay Pride means to you and your gay and straight friends and families. Enjoy the feeling of being surrounded by thousands of queers for at least one weekend, and know that when the weekend is over, one thing remains. You’re a number, perhaps 5% or 10% of the population, but together we hold a lot of influence at the polling place.