By Ryan M. Leach
Photo by Dalton DeHart
The seventh annual Houston Victory Fund Brunch will be held on April 23 at the historic Corinthian in downtown Houston. The champagne will be flowing, and the stakes for LGBTQ equality are higher than ever.
Houston, more than any other city in the country, has benefitted from the work of the Victory Fund. The organization, which focuses on electing LGBTQ people into office, gave early support to many of our trailblazing leaders, including former mayor Annise Parker. More recently, the Fund helped bolster the campaign of Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, who defeated her predecessor handily in November.
“The Victory Fund is coming off a fairly successful 2016 election cycle,” says event chair Bryan Hlavinka. “Locally, we saw endorsed candidates Kim Ogg and Judge Steve Kirkland win their races. In state races, we saw the return of our only two openly-LGBT state legislators to Austin, Mary Gonzalez and Celia Israel. The Victory Fund continues to support Houston city council members Mike Laster and Robert Gallegos.”
Houston has a long history of electing LGBTQ leaders to influential offices, supported in large part through the efforts of the Victory Fund. The organization, which is based in Washington DC, lends resources to candidates in order to help them win races at every level of government. Most notably, the Victory Fund supported Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay woman elected to the U.S. Senate. They were also instrumental in electing Kate Brown as governor of Oregon, another historic first in the country.
Part of the Victory Fund’s success is its support of both LGBTQ leaders and community allies. This year, the Victory in Houston Brunch will honor a few of these allies. The third annual Annise Parker Leadership Award will be given to pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus of St. John’s Church in downtown Houston. “They were very vocal and visible in the fight for the [Houston Equal Rights Ordinance]. We wanted to recognize the work of our allies in the fight for LGBT equality locally,” says Hlavinka.
Another ally who will be recognized at the brunch is honorary chair Amber Mostyn. “Amber Mostyn has been an incredible ally to the LGBT community,” says Hlavinka. “The Mostyns are recognized as one of the top fundraisers in the state of Texas, and they have helped our community politically. We believe it is time Amber gets the recognition she deserves for the work she has done.”
The brunch will be returning to the Corinthian, a venue that has played host to the event for most of the seven years it has been held in the city. It provides a beautiful backdrop for this equality-oriented event, and sponsor tables (currently available online at victoryfund.org/Houston) should once again sell out. Individual tickets, if available, may be released closer to the date of the brunch.
The brunch has traditionally featured elected officials from around the country speaking about the important support they received from the Victory Fund, but at press time the names of guest speakers were not available. Past speakers have included U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, Pennsylvania State Representative Brian Sims, and Texas State Representative Mary Gonzalez.
What: The Victory Fund Houston Champagne Brunch
When: April 23, noon
Where: The Corinthian, 202 Fannin St.
Ryan M. Leach is a community activist, lawyer, professor, writer, and humorist. You can email him at [email protected].