This morning Odessa residents were exposed to the colors of the Gay Pride rainbow towering over the City landscape as the Odessa Arts Council programmed the Odessa Spire just off East 8th Street and Maple Avenue to display the rainbow colors commonly shown as support for Gay Pride.
Odessa Headlines received a photo of the Spire early this morning from a local resident who was upset with the Odessa Spire being used to promote a controversial political message just hours after the Odessa City Council voted to award $475,000 in taxpayer funds to support the Odessa Arts Council during the upcoming year.
During a telephone interview, Odessa Arts director Randy Ham stated that the Spire was lit in the Gay Pride rainbow colors from midnight last night to 6 am this morning. Ham stated that the Spire, which is owned by the City of Odessa but is leased to and managed by the Odessa Arts Council, is programmed each January for the entire year and it was only coincidental that the display came just hours after the Odessa City Council approved the Odessa Arts funding.
Although approximately 60% of the Odessa Arts budget is provided by the City of Odessa, Ham stated that “…we do not use city funds for the maintenance or programing of the Spire – that money is raised by Odessa Arts.”
Ham further stated that the Pride rainbow lighting was offered as “an olive branch” to Basin Pride after the Odessa Arts Council rejected an arts grant submitted last year by Basin Pride.
Ham concluded by stating that he, not the Odessa Arts Board, is responsible for programming the Spire and that “… the the Spire lighting is programed once a year, and it was programed back in December for the entire year. So you will see it on July 4th, you will see it red, white and blue. On August 31st, you’ll see it in yellow. We light it orange for Hunger Action month on September 15th, I believe, and also breast cancer awareness in October. And then from Thanksgiving through the end of the year, it’s red and green for the holidays.”
Ector County Republican Party Chairwoman Tisha Crow expressed anger and frustration that an installation that is owned by the city would be used to make a controversial political statement: “We’ve seen how radical the LGBTQ ‘Pride’ events have become across our country, with increased sexualization of children and open displays of lewd behavior that should be condemned and not embraced. The use of any taxpayer dollars to support any political agenda is completely unacceptable, much less one that contributes to the degradation of our society and preys upon our children.”