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Groovy to the Max(ey)

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Gay political pioneer earned front-row seat to historic filing period.

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By Susan Bankston

Ihave a new item to add to my list of talents and special skills: I know how to make an old gay guy happier than a tick on a fat dog. That’s a talent I’m fixing to share with you.

In 1987, Glen Maxey became the first executive director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas (now Equality Texas). Four years later, Maxey was the first openly gay person to be elected to the Texas Legislature, where he served six terms.

Maxey’s time in the Legislature was well spent. He earned more awards than a Miss Texas pageant participant equipped with baton-twirling skills and a pickup truck loaded with sequins and tits. He also passed more legislation than any other member of the House, mainly because, as he says, “there’s so damn much to fix in Texas.”

Maxey says he wasn’t the only queer in the Legislature, noting that some of his straight colleagues were really queer—in the heterosexual sense of the word. And according to him, he was never the only gay one. In fact, during his 12 years in Austin, he says he served with five closet cases, two of whom were Republicans (oh my!). But again, none of those other gays were out‚ and that’s what counts in baseball and LGBTQ rights.

After leaving the Legislature, Maxey became a lobbyist for the causes he cares most about, which includes electing Democrats and LGBTQ candidates to public office. He currently serves as the legislative-affairs director for the Texas Democratic Party.

Last month, “Moses” Maxey felt like he had led his people into the Promised Land when a record number of openly LGBTQ Democratic candidates filed to run for office in Texas in 2018. He gleefully approved their applications for the party while thoroughly enjoying his front-row seat to LGBTQ history.

Christmas morning will be a letdown after this.

Maxey doesn’t know exactly how many Texas LGBTQ Democrats filed to run in 2018 because candidates for local races apply to their county’s parties across the state. (OutSmart puts the figure at 31.) “There may be a candidate in Brewster County running for tax assessor who is gay,” Maxey explains, “and we don’t know about it yet because being ‘the gay candidate’ isn’t a thing anymore.”

We have candidates that have every one of those LGBTQ initials covered, and I have even heard that some LGBTQ candidates are running on the Republican ticket. I have no idea why that would be. I mean, most of them cast a reflection in the mirror, and that’s about as welcome as an outhouse breeze in today’s Republican Party.

It did not happen overnight, but Maxey’s lifetime of tireless work recruiting and training LGBTQ candidates to become part of the political system in Texas is taking hold. It could not have happened at a better time, because Maxey is past retirement age and starting to get a tad wilted around the edges. Honey, it’s common knowledge among the clergy that he’s been bitten by rattlesnakes, beaten with a horse whip, viciously attacked by grackles, burned by one of Willie Nelson’s cigarettes, and is the only person in Texas able to brag about registering voters at a nudist swimming hole.

Okay, so I’m not sure Maxey has certificates of participation for all those things, but he says he does. And then there’s the clergy thing, so I’m putting it in print. The good news is that he has trained a gang of candidates so plentiful that a picture of them would weigh 20 pounds.

As I write this, Maxey is in Mexico at Isla Mujeres (yeah, he gets the irony) celebrating the fact that Texas Democrats have more candidates than at any time in the past 30 years, and a record number of LGBTQ candidates.

One of Maxey’s friends who enjoys running for office called him before the filing deadline because she wanted to run for Congress against The Cuckoo of Corpus Christi, U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold (who has since announced his retirement over allegations of sexual harassment). Maxey let her know that an LGBTQ candidate, Eric Holguin, had already filed to run for that seat as a Democrat. “Yes,” Vanessa Edwards Foster replied, matter-of-factly, “but no transgender women have filed.” Well damn, doesn’t that attitude just warm your heart?

Every now and then, you live to see the fat chickens come home to roost. This makes me insanely happy.

God bless ya, Glen.

This article appears in the January 2018 edition of OutSmart magazine.

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Susan Bankston

Susan Bankston lives in Richmond, Texas, where she writes about her hairdresser at The World’s Most Dangerous Beauty Salon, Inc., at juanitajean.com.
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