Though he is not the first First Gentleman of Seattle, Michael Shiosaki is the first openly gay First Gentleman. He and his husband, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, finally tied the knot on August 10, 2013. That date marks the day they met 22 years ago. The two had been invited by some mutual friends on a camping trip to Mt. Rainier. The friends meant to set up Murray with another invitee on the trip, but as Cupid would have it, Murray and Shiosaki hit it off instead. At the end of the weekend, Murray left the campsite earlier than the others. Later, when Shiosaki went to his car to go home, there was a note on his windshield. It was from Murray, asking if he wanted to go see the film Paris is Burning with him. Shiosaki still has the note.
After their nuptials at St. Mark’s Cathedral, Shiosaki was curious about his position as First Gentleman. He looked up the information and discovered that in 1926, the first female mayor of Seattle, Bertha Knight was married to Henry Landes. This officially makes Shiosaki the second First Gentleman of Seattle. This does not take away from the historical significance of his role as the current First Gentleman. He is married to the first openly gay mayor of Seattle, after all.
His husband was one of those who fought for 18 years to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington as a state senator. The battle was won in 2012. The two also had to fight a lesser battle last winter. Because of Shiosaki’s position with the city, he is the director of planning and development for the Parks and Recreation Department. President of the Hawthorne Hills Community Council, Gail Chiarello, posited that there may be a conflict of interest. She also suggested that a threat may be posed to Christopher Parks, the acting Parks Superintendent. The mayor and First Gentleman conferred with Washington state’s Ethics and Elections Commission and no conflicts were identified.
While Murray and Shiosaki were able to wed in their home state, Houston Mayro Annise Parker was not. In January, she and her partner of 23 years, Kathy Hubbard, elected to say their vows in Palm Springs, California. Though not what they originally intended, Texas has proven to be a more difficult battleground state in which to win same-sex marriage rights. Parker has, however, managed to offer her legally married city employees insurance benefits, sexual orientation not withstanding.
The Murray-Shiosakis and the Parker-Hubbards are both couples who have shown commitment to one another and fortitude in the face of resistance. As leaders of two major US cities, Murray and Parker are poised to blaze a trail for future public servants by setting examples through their work and their personal lives. Shiosaki and Hubbard are there to love and support them through all their endeavors.
Shiosaki has said that now that he is First Gentleman, he sees the city of Seattle with a new perspective. He feels a sense of greater responsibility, from the homeless population to the condition of the streets. He finds himself picking up pieces of trash and noting burned out streetlights. Seattle is his home and he is proud of that.
By Stacy Lamy