Five uncomfortably funny gay jokes from Commissioner Kevin Beckner's final day
TAMPA — The Hillsborough County Commission met for the last time Wednesday with Commissioner Kevin Beckner, the county’s first openly gay elected official.
The goodbye ceremony was full of emotional statements from each commissioner. Commissioner Sandy Murman, for example, said her and Beckner were “kindred spirits” and added that he brought “diversity to our county that was sorely needed." Beckner, a Democrat, thanked his colleagues for their “respect and civility” during his eight years and movingly gave thanks to his political mentor, former Commissioner Jan Platt, and his husband, Gil.
But there were also a lot of light-hearted jabs and good-natured ribbing during the hour-long ceremony (Beckner gave Commissioner Al Higginbotham, an advocate for native plants and economic development, a book on starting a marijuana business) and that included some pretty funny/awkward jokes on the topic of Beckner’s sexuality (as well as Commissioner Victor Crist’s).
Here’s a smattering of them so they’re forever preserved. As Crist explained to the audience and viewers at home: "Yes, we have a sense of humor."
1. George W. Beckner?
While roasting his colleague from the dais before gifting him a thoughtful painting, Crist remarked that Beckner’s suit choice often eschewed stereotypes, much to Crist’s chagrin.
“I have not met another public servant with such a conservative wardrobe as this man,” Crist said. “This George W. Bush jacket and his stellar Republican tie doesn’t quite do it for you. And I’ve been trying to get him to change his wardrobe. I’ve even ordered things online and had them shipped in, and he says, ‘I would never wear that. Give it to Gil.’”
2. TMI NSFW
Never to be outdone, Crist donned a purple suit Wednesday including what appeared to be a jacket made of velvet.
“When I got dressed today, my four-year-old said, ‘Really, Daddy?’” Crist said. “And I said, ‘Today I was going to wear my favorite color and my favorite jacket in honor of your eight years of outstanding community service.’ ”
Then, he added, to laughter (and maybe moans): “I usually wear it with a pair of leather pants.”
3. If anyone has Crist for Secret Santa, hint hint...
Beckner called each commissioner up one-by-one to give them each a gift.
When it was his turn, Crist wistfully guessed what his gift might be.
“A Brazilian swim suit?”
4. A new government bureaucracy
Beckner’s ascension to office didn’t make everyone happy and his cause wasn’t helped when Crist joined the commission in 2010.
“Commissioner Crist, you also came from Tallahassee and when you got here you looked around the county center and you said, ‘This doesn’t look anything like that royal palace we have in Tallahassee,’” Beckner said. “And so you started looking around and started redecorating county center, rebranding and repainting everything. While you may have thought that was all good, I’m the one who got all the emails and phone calls because guess what, they were blaming the gay guy for redecorating the County Center.”
As it was, Beckner said Crist earned the nickname, “Secretary of Interior Design.” On Wednesday, Beckner motioned for Crist to officially take on the title in Hillsborough County. The motion passed unanimously.
5. Beckner passes the torch
With Beckner’s departure, a constituency that has won new rights and important battles the past eight years no longer has one of its own on the commission.
But they won’t be entirely unrepresented, Beckner said.
Crist, he said, was the “gayest straight commissioner we have sitting on the board.”