The University Democrats welcomed a Texas politician who overcame public misconceptions surrounding the gay community to campus Wednesday night.
Former state representative Glen Maxey spoke about his life and experiences before and after he was elected in a candid discussion at the University Democrats general meeting. Maxey was the first openly gay man to serve in the Texas Legislature and fought aggressively to establish health care and education facilities for Texans with HIV. He also played a key role in passing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Maxey began his discussion with many anecdotes about his early years in Texas politics and the different people he met when he registered voters. Maxey said he once helped register a 98-year-old African-American woman who was told she could not vote.
“After about 45 minutes, she had voted and I asked her what it felt like to vote,” Maxey said. “She looked at me and a tear was running down her eye and said ‘My, my, mister, it feels mighty fine.’”
To this day, Maxey said he personally registered more than 10,000 voters and holds the U.S. record for registering more naked individuals than any other politician by standing outside bars from dusk until dawn.
Holly Heinrich, public relations chair for the University Democrats, said Maxey was a very important person to the organization because he is a big supporter of the group and spends a lot of time speaking to students.
“In politics, so much knowledge is passed down in stories,” Heinrich said. “There is so much about politics that you can only learn from the people who have lived it. He has insights you’ll never find in a government textbook.”
Heinrich said students would enjoy hearing from Maxey because the initiatives he worked on in office still benefit people across the state today.
Government junior Robert Nunez said it was very exciting to see Maxey, who he had formerly learned of and met through the University Democrats.
“It’s always exciting to have people who spend time in politics come with the younger politicos,” Nunez said. “For the first openly gay man in the legislature to come speak to us [speaks] to the promise and opportunity everyone has.”
Maxey ended the discussion with the reading from his upcoming memoir and encouraged people to enter politics for the right reasons and not to step on other people.
“The most important thing you can ever do is make one person’s life a little better,” Maxey said. “And that’s what I hope you all can do in your political careers.”