It’s been a tough couple of months for Houston’s LGBT community. What should be a hopeful and inspiring celebration of Pride has once again been mired in drama, thanks to secret meetings and surprise decisions from the Pride Houston Board. Here’s the latest saga, from ABC 13….
HOUSTON (KTRK) —
The date of Houston’s 2015 Pride Parade has changed to June 27 after an uproar from some GLBT activists.
“You do not speak for me — ever,” said one woman at a meeting of about 100 at the Montrose Center Thursday night.
Her comments were directed at Pride Houston’s Board, which, in an about-face, moved the Pride Houston festivities in an effort to avoid conflict with Juneteenth celebrations. At the meeting, the board members admitted they did not fully understand the significance of Juneteenth.
“If they didn’t understand it then, they do now,” said community activist Jolanda Jones.
The same board recently received harsh criticism about moving Houston’s Pride Parade downtown from its home in Montrose. President Frankie Quijano said this date debacle is an innocent oversight and they are now moving forward.
“We decided to change it to June 27 so it wouldn’t conflict and we could respect the African American community,” said Quijano.
Texas Leftist attended the meeting this week, and to say that community frustrations were high is a gross understatement. People were downright angry and tired of being ignored by Pride Houston. The conflict with Juneteenth marks the second time that the board has made a major decision without input from outside organizations or their leaders.
Reasons given for moving the date? The Pride Board claimed that the decision was originally made to attract more visitors to the Houston festivities, and not conflict with other major city pride celebrations that are held in the final weekend of June. They then proceeded to claim total ignorance about the city’s Juneteenth traditions.
As one of Houston’s most prominent festival organizations, it seems nearly impossible for Pride Houston to be totally unaware of Juneteenth. But even if this were the case, why would that be proper justification for them to sever their own traditions of holding Pride on the last weekend of June to commemorate the original Stonewall Riots?
Furthermore, communications sent by Pride Board member Jason Gallegos seemed to suggest little concern or respect for events being held in the African-American community. Here’s an excerpt from a conversation obtained by Texas Leftist where a fellow community member tried to warn Gallegos that this would be a problem…
At the community meeting, Gallegos apologized for his insensitive comments. To their credit, the Pride Board pledged to form a Cultural diversity committee so they could become better informed and integrated within Houston’s diverse community. At this point, all can agree that better integration is needed on all fronts.
But the verbal apologies and quickly-worded promises are not enough. These actions have caused a severe strain among the GLBT and African-American communities… groups that were mostly united in last year’s fight for the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. The burden of proof now rests on Pride Houston’s Board to be a better and more sensitive community member. As Edward Pollard, president of the Houston Black American Democrats said, “We shouldn’t have to go through all of these hurdles just to do what’s right.”
Let’s hope that Pride Houston will learn from this experience. As the leader of another organization stated at the meeting, they can’t afford any more high-profile mistakes.