Why Houstonians shouldn’t be waiting for the pop star’s approval.
By Bradley Donalson
There has been a lot of talk about the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) in the past year and a half since it was initially approved. Now, thanks to the Texas Supreme Court’s decision to ignore rampant forgery and the petitioners’ inability to follow the law, that talk is centered on the fact that HERO will be on the ballot this November—and, oddly enough, Beyoncé.
After Texas’ highest court’s decision, Carlos Maza of the Huffington Post penned an article asking the diva and former Houstonian to speak up about the ordinance in her hometown. Maza explained the influence the singer can have on social media by citing the number of followers on her Instagram as well as Beyoncé’s previous forays into political movements such as Black Lives Matter and her rainbow-themed post celebrating #LoveWins.
And he isn’t wrong about any of that. Beyoncé is a force in today’s culture that should not be taken lightly. Just attaching her name to the movement has caused people to pay more attention to the topic. Even NPR had a segment on their radio show The Texas Standard about celebrities in politics because of the attempt to get Beyoncé to speak out.
But here is the problem: Beyoncé has become the topic of conversation. The NPR segment was about Beyoncé, not HERO. People are begging Beyoncé to show up so they can declare victory. That isn’t how we win. Even this editorial has had to be about Beyoncé so far. HERO is what we need to be talking about. We need to be talking about how Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States, yet the last major city that doesn’t have a nondiscrimination ordinance. Houston has the best mayor in the United States, who happens to be a lesbian, yet LGBT Houstonians have to worry about possibly getting fired from their jobs if their boss learns that they aren’t straight and cis-binary. NASA is talking about sending astronauts to Mars, but queer Houstonians have to worry about housing discrimination. But will all of that become secondary to what one pop star may or may not decide to say?
Yes, Bey’s endorsement would reach millions of people and potentially influence their thoughts on HERO, but getting that endorsement isn’t how HERO will win at the polls. Registering to vote is how that will happen. Getting to the polls in November and voting yes for HERO is how that will happen. Talking to friends and family about how important it is that discrimination become something Houston doesn’t approve of, and getting them to the polls, is how that will happen. Countering the lies and propaganda that is going to be coming from the people who want to discriminate against the LGBT community is how that will happen.
Houston needs a HERO, but it isn’t Beyoncé. Houston needs its citizens to stand up against oppressors and bullies. Basically, in cliché format: Houston needs YOU to be a HERO!