Castro-ville: a 21st century, gay-friendly city

Mayor Julián Castro knew roughly what to expect when he agreed this week to serve as the Grand Marshal of San Antonio's July 4 Gay Pride parade â?? the first San Antonio mayor to do so â?? and in less than 24 hours, conservative talk-radio host Adam McManus had marshalled his self-styled “Adam's Army,” urging them via web and airwaves to bombard the new mayor with pleas to withdraw. McManus applied the same pressure to SA Police Chief William (no relation) McManus when he served in the role in 2007.

`Adam McManus is also urging his listeners to protest the public library's Pride month programming, which includes a screening of Milk. His website, somewhat hysterically, insists on adding “homosexual” in front of any GLBT-related items, as in “San Antonio Homosexual Pride Parade,” and “Stonewall Homosexual Democrats” — in honor of which we're changing this week's cover tag, “San Antonio's Gayest Newspaper,” to “San Antonio's Homosexual Newspaper.”`

“I knew that it would be controversial,” Castro told the Current via phone this morning. He estimates that he has received 80-90 emails opposing his participation, many of them echoing the radio host's recommended talking points. “But to `Adam McManus's` credit ... they have been very polite, very respectful.”

One email urges the Mayor “to reconsider your decision to act as Grand Marshall in the planned July 4th Homosexual Pride Parade ... I have to ask if this truly the environment we want to promote for our city. There is a difference between Christian tolerance and blind endorsement.”

Castro, we're very proud to report, has used the opportunity for a thoughtful exchange on the subject of tolerance, both in the media and in personal correspondence.

“I respect your opinion,” Castro wrote wrote in reply. “However, I am the mayor for all of San Antonio, and I firmly believe we must be an inclusive city.”

The Mayor's overriding theme has been that we're a cosmopolitan community, up there with the New Yorks and San Franciscos in our variety and philosophy. And, we might add, it's about time someone just went ahead and contradicted the long out-of-date perception that SA is Texas's “conservative, military” town.

“San Antonio is America's seventh-largest city,” said Castro. “We're a city that includes folks, that values our diversity â?? that doesn't just tolerate diversity.”

And he isn't shying away from the gist of the anti-Pride opposition, either: “To equate lesbians and gays with something immoral is just wrong,” he said.

SA's online GLBT publication issued its own call to support the Mayor's participation in the Pride parade yesterday, which elicited heartfelt responses, some of which were copied to local media.

“Dear Mayor Castro, This email is to thank you for your words on KTSA this morning with Trey Ware,” wrote Linda Smith-Nell, a member of the Texas Gay Rodeo Association, who will be riding in the parade as part of the color guard. “I was encouraged and felt recognized a â??real person' when you defended your decision to be Grand Marshall when `longtime Council gadfly` Jack Finger called gays despicable and morally corrupt (or words to that effect).”

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