Reasons for Pride: 12 Picks From Gay Mayors to Reality Stars

By: Daniel Reynolds

Gay mayors from across the country were invited to L.A. Pride at Pump Lounge in West Hollywood last week by Frontiers magazine. The event, which brought together luminaries from both politics and entertainment, could perhaps best be summed up by the venue's owner (and Bravo reality star) Lisa Vanderpump, who said, "We’re making progress. Whether it’s one state at a time, whether it’s one mayor at a time, it’s about people being able to come out, be who they are, and be able to make a difference."

In the spirit of the occasion, asked mayors John D'Amico (West Hollywood),  Ron Strouse (Doylestown, Pa.), and Jerry Pierce (Valley Mills, Texas), for their reasons for pride. With reasons ranging from marriage to religious acceptance to public hand holding, celebs like Jai Rodriguez, Emerson Collins, and Blake McIver also reflected on achievements of their own and accomplishments by LGBT people in general that make them feel proud.

Images courtesy of Connie Kurtew.

Reason No. 1: Marriage!
John D'Amico (mayor of West Hollywood)
"I think what our city has done most this year is celebrate marriage," D'Amico says. "We understood how important domestic partnerships were in 1984 when we were one of the first cities in the country to promote domestic partnerships. We were behind marriage 100 percent then and now. And we understand how that’s not just about two people spending their lives together in love but about all the benefits and all the ways that LGBT people can take care of themselves."

Reason No. 2: Southern Baptist Sissies!
Emerson Collins (Above left: Southern Baptist Sissies, Bravo's The People's Couch)
"I produced and starred in a film called Southern Baptist Sissies by Del Shores, and we put it in 15 independent theaters in 15 different cities this year," Collins says. "So it’s been a really exciting journey to share the experience of the struggle of so many LGBT members of the community who grew up in the church. And to have the interaction in so many different cities was really rewarding for our little independent film. So I’m very proud of that."

Reason No. 3: The Time Manipulator!
Blake McIver (Above right: ABC's Full House, Bravo's The People's Couch)
"I released my first studio album, The Time Manipulator, and there’s a lot of messages in the record about acceptance and about pride, and about loving who you are and being different and standing out," McIver adds.

Reason No. 4: Groundbreaking Television!
Jai Rodriguez (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy)
"Being a part of the first all-gay cast in network television for Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," Rodriguez says. "But beyond that, being in Rent, playing Angel when I was 18, never even meeting a gay person [at that time], that was pretty interesting, having these crazy things that have happened professionally. But I think the small things they did for society are a bigger accomplishment that I didn’t have much to do with, but I was a part of it."

Reason No. 5: Men Are Holding Hands!
Sean Hemeon (Husbands)
"I really enjoy how [being gay] is becoming a very commonplace, everyday thing," Hemeon says. "I’ve noticed more men holding hands everywhere. More couples are being more and more brave in holding hands … and not just in West Hollywood!"