This “Conference” was exclusively for Mayors whom just happen to be part of the LGBTQ Community! Yes I am posting this so no one claims it is a secret, I’m Gay & the Mayors that I met with are Gay also! Get Over It!
– Jerry Pierce, mayor of Valley Mills, Texas, in his “Gay Mayors Conference” photo album on Facebook.
A small-town mayor from big ole Texas, Jerry Pierce attended the LGBT Mayors Conference earlier this month that was organized by West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico in connection with Pride month. Pierce was surprised when, upon returning home to Valley Mills, a town of about 1,200, he encountered some backlash for taking part in the event.
“It’s a small faction of my community that’s kind of caused a big stir,” said Pierce, who was elected mayor about a year ago. Pierce says he’s been “completely, totally out” as a gay man in since 2002.
Though his sexual orientation could hardly surprise his constituents, Pierce said that a handful (some five to ten) have tried to discredit him. Several voiced complaints during the public comments period of a city council meeting.
“I got hammered pretty good,” Pierce said. He said that his critics have suggested that Pierce didn’t disclose he was going to an LGBT event and have alleged that Valley Mills tax money funded the trip. Pierce says neither claim is true. He says his opponents have also painted the LGBT mayor event as “shining a bad light on our town” and being tantamount to “a faction of extremists.”
Though backlash against a gay mayor might mesh with negative sentiments some LGBT people hold about Texas, a conservative state dominated by the Republic Party, Pierce says that many local people also expressed support for him in light of the criticism. Most Valley Mills people, he said, don’t want the government involved in their personal lives and aren’t likely to concern themselves with the mayor’s orientation.
Pierce said that he was honored to be invited to the mayor’s conference and that he and his 14-year-old son, Quinnton, had a great time in WeHo.
“I very much enjoyed Pride weekend,” Pierce said.
D’Amico said that the conference, which he hopes to make an annual event, included four mayors who had a conversation about what it means to be a gay mayor in the 21st century. He said he hopes that the participating mayors will tell their constituents about coming to West Hollywood and that it will encourage more people to visit the city.