Saturday, October 31, 2015

VICE: "How Houston is Being Duped by Bigots and Zealots"

Nails it right to a cross.

The first half of the article resets the history, the middle portion reveals -- as if we did not know this already, too -- what and who we are dealing with.  And Annise Parker's cogent analysis identifies the root of the problem: ignorance and fear.

"Most Houstonians, like most Americans, have gay and lesbian friends, family, and coworkers. Yet most people don't personally know a transgender person—at least that they know of," Mayor Parker told VICE via email in an attempt to explain the oppositions' effectiveness. "That lack of familiarity means that it can be easy for people to have questions, or concerns, or made to be afraid. People often respond that way to something they haven't experienced before. The fact that they are facing this attack affirms the need for this ordinance."

If you somehow missed it, there's been a national campaign to teach HERO's tolerance that went viral on social media the past month.

Chris Valdez is the co-founder of Primer Grey, a Houston-based design and marketing company that has joined the fight in support of HERO. Along with photographer Lauren Marek, Valdez is tapping social media with a powerful, image-heavy project called we are HERO. The project's goal is to shine a light on a diverse array of Houstonians who would be protected under HERO. They've seen much success since the website's October 1 launch. "Facebook has spread this project further than we could have ever imagined," Valdez says from his Houston office.

"... The main reason was that we had a stance as a company on this, and we knew that as communicators—and often times visual communicators—we had the tools in our toolbox to correct the story. We wanted to talk about the 15 different categories of people that are protected by HERO and what was at stake for them," he says. "We wanted to put faces to those stories and have them look people in the eye and tell them who and what was in jeopardy. It's a lot harder to tell people to their face that you're not interested in protecting them from discrimination. More specifically, we wanted to point out that the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance is a civil rights conversation; not about one group."

That last point is an important one, and something the mayor recognizes as well: "I don't believe the public is aware that half of the complaints filed during the time HERO was in effect were for racial discrimination," she told us.


"We'll win this," says Valdez. "It's a shame that we're putting equal rights on the ballot, but I know that Houston will come out on the right side of this, because that's the kind of city this is.

Support Houston Unites in any way that you can so that becomes a reality.  If all you can do is make a few phone calls to those who have not voted yet this weekend, while the rains keep us indoors, then that's enough.

(I would rather have fought on the "H-Town: Good for Bidness" turf, but we'll get to fight this battle again if the forces of hate win out.  It WON'T be over after next Tuesday, no matter the outcome.)

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