Voters in Houston failed to approve a proposed equal rights ordinance Nov. 3 that would have marked an LGBT victory in the state of Texas.
The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) would have prohibited discrimination based on a number of characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender identity. However, the bill failed to pass after 62 percent of the public voted against it.
Opponents of gay marriage used fear tactics to rally opposition to the bill, claiming it would allow sexual predators to roam freely in women’s bathrooms. They used the slogan “Protect women’s privacy. Prevent danger” in an anti-HERO campaign.
Many people spoke out against the ordinance, but a number of prominent figures and celebrities expressed support for the measure, including Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Notably silent, though, was Houston native Beyoncé.
In a Nov. 4 post titled “Beyoncé Ignored the LGBT Community in Houston,” on the Huffington Post’s Gay Voices Blog, Carlos Maza, LGBT program director at Media Matters Carlos Maza details his months-long effort to influence Beyoncé to speak out in support of HERO since it was announced in August that it would go up for a public repeal vote.
Maza explains that Beyoncé is the most famous person to come out of Houston, with her own page on the “Visit Houston” tourist website in which she claims, “[Houston] will always be home to me!”
Beyoncé’s influence over the Houston community—and the rest of the world—is undeniable. Ranking as the third-most followed person on Instagram with more than 47 million followers, Beyoncé could have inspired millions to rally in support of the ordinance with a simple Instagram post, as Maza points out.
Maza began his crusade to obtain Beyoncé’s public support in August by writing a blog post asking her to make a single Instagram post supporting HERO. His campaign soon gained national attention, sparking the popular hashtag #BeyBeAHERO and being reported by major media outlets including NBC, Buzzfeed and the Houston Chronicle and major LGBT organizations like GLAAD, the Courage Campaign and the National LGBTQ Task Force.
However, Beyoncé’s Instagram account continued to feature mundane photos of her meals, vacation pics and—on the same night Houston voted against the ordinance—a silent video of the star posing glamorously in front of the American flag, but nothing regarding Houston’s HERO vote.
Beyoncé has previously expressed support for the LGBT community, but only at times when it was safe to do so. After the June 26 Supreme Court ruling making same-sex marriage a national right, Beyoncé shared an LGBT-themed remix of her “7/11” music video celebrating the decision.
However, the singer’s silence regarding LGBT rights opposition in her own hometown suggests she is not fully invested in the issue.
Beyoncé is largely recognized as an icon among the LGBT community, and LGBT-identifying fans comprise a large portion of the people buying tickets to her shows, requesting her music from radio DJs and streaming her songs and videos. The least she could have done is make a simple Instagram post encouraging people to vote in support of LGBT rights.