Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sue Carlton: Mayors, politics and Pride: A tale of two cities

Next week, a city's mayor will smile and wave to the crowds in a big parade.

And this is news why?

Because we're talking about a city's mayor and not the city's mayor. And because we're talking Pride.

This year, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn will be riding in a convertible at the St. Pete Pride Carnivale parade, the signature St. Petersburg event celebrating the gay and lesbian community and attended by thousands.

Did I mention it's in St. Petersburg?

Do not, however, expect to see St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster in the St. Petersburg parade. (More on that in a minute — and it may surprise you.)

The Tampa mayor's willingness to cross the bridge for this is no big surprise. Buckhorn after all enthusiastically supported Tampa's adoption of a domestic partner registry for unmarried couples and recently encouraged the Hillsborough County Commission to reverse its embarrassing ban on county government even acknowledging the existence of gay pride.

No, what makes Buckhorn's planned presence in the Pride parade particularly notable — beyond the chance that he might show up in those preppy plaid pants of his that are so loud they surely violate his own city's noise ordinance — is that no St. Pete mayor has done the same.

Mayor Foster has been much better than his predecessor in acknowledging the significant contributions of his city's gay residents. Foster, a conservative Christian, supported a domestic registry and extended same-sex partner benefits to all city employees.

And while the previous mayor acted as if all those people gathered for one of St. Pete's biggest events pretty much didn't exist, Foster has been infinitely more welcoming. While he has not ridden in the parade or signed Pride proclamations in the past, he has written a letter of support, seen the parade, and attended a pre-Pride event on occasion.

And this year, Foster has signed the proclamation.

Maybe to some that's just his name scrawled on a ceremonial piece of paper. To a lot of others, though, it's a gesture of goodwill and a sign of progress. "A big step," says Pride's executive director Eric Skains. "It means a lot to the community. It was a great move on behalf of the mayor this year."

So does this mean we might see Foster himself waving atop a convertible — a different color one than Buckhorn's, of course — in a historic mayoral act that could even eclipse the prospect of plaid pants?

"As far as the parade, that is the day I'm moving my baby boy to the University of Florida," Foster told me. It is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, he said, "when you take your kid to college."

And do I hear something that sounds like Foster might just ride next year? He feints and dodges. "Let me get re-elected," he demurs — a side-step, but maybe also a step forward.

Tampa and St. Pete have this simmering sibling rivalry all about whose city is coolest — funny, since they are so different they could be separated by multiple states instead of just a bridge. Tampa is bigger and brassier, St. Pete hipper and artier. The rivalry can get as big as the fate of the Rays, as small as getting Wi-Fi for your downtown parks. (Tampa's ahead on that one.)

So maybe it's okay for our cities to move at different paces. As long as they're both moving forward.

Sue Carlton: Mayors, politics and Pride: A tale of two cities 06/20/13 [Last modified: Thursday, June 20, 2013 9:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Astros rout Yankees to force Game 7 of AL Championship Series

    Ml

    HOUSTON — Justin Verlander pitched seven shutout innings to outduel Luis Severino for the second time, and the Astros bats came alive in their return home as Houston routed the Yankees 7-1 Friday night and forced a decisive Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

    The Astros’ Brian McCann, who has struggled during the ALCS, breaks a scoreless tie with an RBI double during the fifth inning off Yankees starter Luis Severino.
  2. Review: Faith Hill and Tim McGraw shower love, star power on Tampa's Amalie Arena

    Blogs

    Near the end of their potent new duet Break First, Tim McGraw stopped singing, and let Faith Hill's powerhouse voice take over.

    Faith Hill and Tim McGraw performed at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Oct. 20, 2017.
  3. Senate to take up AUMF debate as Trump defends reaction to Niger attack

    World

    WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is taking up a long-awaited debate about authorizing military force against the Islamic State as President Trump comes under unprecedented public scrutiny for his treatment of dead soldiers' families, following an ambush on troops helping to fight Islamic …

  4. In fear and vigilance, a Tampa neighborhood holds its breath

    K12

    TAMPA — There was a time, not long ago, when Wayne Capaz would go for a stroll at night and Christina Rodriguez would shop whenever she wanted. Michael Fuller would go to his night job as a line cook, not too worried about his wife at home.

    More than 50 people gathered and walked in the Southeast Seminole Heights community Friday to pay respects to the victims of three shootings. The crowd took a moment of silence at the corner of 11th Street and East New Orleans where Monica Hoffa was found dead. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  5. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.