Annise Parker Presides Over Her Last Houston Victory Fund Event 

The Former Mayor of Houston Retires from Victory Fund

Editor’s Note: Due to weather-related issues, the Victory Fund’s Sunday Funday event, scheduled for Sunday, May 19, has been moved to The Corinthian Event Space in Downtown Houston, 202 Fannin St, Houston, TX 77002.


Annise Parker will be retiring from her role as President and CEO of the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund and its affiliate organizations after seven years. Parker is, of course, no stranger to leadership. She served on practically every level of local, city of Houston government as a council member, controller and eventually mayor, where she was twice reelected. Sunday, May 19, will be the last Victory Fund event that Parker will preside over as the President and CEO, but she promises that it won’t be the last you’ll see of her supporting Victory Fund-endorsed candidates the way she was supported for nine (winning) races.

“We traditionally have done champagne brunches,” says Parker. They are a little more fun and festive than an evening gala, and they feature a selection of the great political leaders from our community. This year, our Houston Host Committee decided that they wanted even less structure and more party, hence our afternoon Sunday Funday. There will be a DJ, drag emcee and lots of champagne. Phyllis Frye will be honored for her decades of work on trans issues,” she adds.

Annise Parker, President and CEO of the Victory Fund

Parker took the helm of the Victory Fund at a time when the organization was set to face some tough challenges that included the Trump administration as well as COVID. What was initially only intended to be a two-year engagement grew to seven. But Parker leaves the Victory Fund in a better place than she found it.

”I met all the goals: stabilize the organization, help create a new Strategic Plan, increase our reach and impact in the center of the country and the South,” she states. “I also grew the staff by 50% and doubled the revenue, while increasing our capacity to advise campaigns. We have also greatly increased our international work, increased our federal appointments work, and grown our internships, to name a few.”

”I don’t know what I’ll do next, I just know I don’t want to be on the road all the time,” she says. “Maybe politics, but after being mayor, I have no interest in being in a legislative body that so limits the choices. I thought about a statewide race in 2022, and many folks know I considered County Judge in the past. We’ll see what happens.”

The Victory Fund is best known for helping elect LGBTQ+ leaders, but its reach goes far beyond that. It is comprised of other sub-entities, each tasked with a different aspect of outreach and education. Victory Fund is a PAC and endorses candidates. Victory Institute is a 501(c)3 non-profit and provides a range of programming. Victory Action is a 501(c)4 and does engagement activities around our work. Together these entities form a network and support system that can educate, recruit, grow and elect new leaders. As Victory Fund Honoree Phyllis Frye has said many times, having LGBTQ+ leaders at the table helps safeguard the community from being on the menu. 

“Fundraising is always the primary responsibility, so growing the base while retaining traditional donors will be one of the challenges for the next President and CEO,” says Parker. The number of [LGBTQ+] candidates is skyrocketing, and we run a lean organization. We have to triage and prioritize. In 2022 there were about 1,100 LGBTQ candidates we tracked. We screened about 750 and endorsed 504. We had a 71% win rate and we’re proud of that. But we also provide training and support services to non-endorsed candidates and to current elected officials.”

Under Parker’s tenure the Victory Fund focused a lot of their efforts in the South, where LGBTQ+ representation is the leanest and yet most necessary. Anti-LGBTQ+ activists have also recognized the South as an important battleground in retaining their influence and power, particularly when it comes to school board elections. 

“We’ve leaned into School Boards and representation in the South for the last few years,” says Parker, “and also on ensuring that every state legislature has someone from our community serving. Last year we elected Fabian Nelson in Mississippi. Louisiana is the only state left to never have elected an out member of their legislature. Of course it’s hard to be alone. There is only one [LGBTQ+] legislator in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee. But remember Glen Maxey in Texas. He stood alone for a long time, and now there are eight members with Molly Cook joining the state senate.”

Parker attributes her success at the Victory Fund to formerly having been a candidate herself. 

“I know what candidates want,” she says, “but also what they need. I can lean on them when they need to up their game and can be part of the consulting work. However, my political team has a lot of expertise so it’s not critical for me to do it.”

With her departure on the horizon, the question now on everybody’s mind is whether Parker herself will once again become a candidate.

”I don’t know what I’ll do next, I just know I don’t want to be on the road all the time,” she says. “Maybe politics, but after being mayor, I have no interest in being in a legislative body that so limits the choices. I thought about a statewide race in 2022, and many folks know I considered County Judge in the past. We’ll see what happens.”

It is no secret that in recent years anti-LGBTQ+ animus has grown significantly, especially against those who identify as transgender. And with laws that attempt to ban drag performers and performances still gaining momentum, it feels like the clock is turning even farther back than anyone anticipated, even in the era of Trump. But Parker says that there are silver linings and victories still being made, though ultimately how fast we get to where we want to be will depend on people, especially young people, voting. 

“Two steps forward and one step back is still progress,” she states. “I started in the LGBTQ political work in 1975. I know how far we’ve come. That doesn’t mean we can’t have huge losses, but when people under 30 finally start voting that will reverse. We’ve already won the war, knowing the attitudes of those generations on LGBTQ issues, but we lose at the ballot box when they stay home.

“Body autonomy is the thread that connects the gay liberation, abortion and trans rights,” she adds. “Who should make these highly personal decisions? Consensual adult sex between those of the same gender was criminalized until 2003 and Justice Clarence Thomas stated clearly he wants to undo that now that abortion access has been rolled back. The right of even adult trans folks to seek appropriate care is under attack in legislatures. The place to fight is not in the legislative chambers, it is at the ballot box!

“Donald Trump brags about putting in place the Justices who overturned Roe. He instituted a ban on trans service members. We need to understand that a second Trump administration would put a bigger target on our community,” Parker emphasizes.

Whether her name will appear on one of those ballots again soon is yet to be determined. But it is clear that Parker’s leadership and legacy is one that we want helping to lead but also helping us learn how to lead in our own right. Parker has made a career of doing both of those things. You can support that progress at the event on May 19 and thank her yourself. You can also support Victory Fund anytime by following them on social media and donating. For more information, visit the

And for a look at all of the amazing out LGBTQ officials around the country:

For ticket information, go to:


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Ryan Leach

Ryan Leach is a frequent contributor to OutSmart magazine. Follow him on Medium at
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