Tag Archives: Jolanda Jones

Pride Houston Board Vs… Juneteenth??

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….

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  The Pride Board claimed that the decision was originally made to attract more visitors to the Houston festivities, and not conflict with other major city pride celebrations that are held in the final weekend of June.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…

Jason Gallegos

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.

Kubosh Holds Town Hall on NDO

As Houston City Council prepares to vote on a comprehensive Non- Discrimination Ordinance, the focus of the political debate has turned swiftly to Council Members themselves, as everyone postulates to determine how they plan to vote.  But some Council Members are taking this time as an opportunity to hear directly from Houstonians on the issue.

In something of a surprising move, Michael Kubosh whom represents the entire city of Houston as an At-Large Council Member, held a Town Hall to specifically to discuss the ordinance.  The meeting was organized by political activist and business owner Jenifer Rene Pool.  As some will recall, Pool ran against Kubosh in 2013 for his current council seat, At-Large Position 3, but since the election, the two have spoken numerous times about the non-discrimination issue.  Pool served as the moderator for the event.

One of those speakers was Monica Roberts, award-winning transgender activist and author of the Transgriot blog.  She shared her personal story of being fired from her former employer because she is transgender.  She also made an important point about how the lack of these protections could be lessening Houston’s competitive edge…

“Of the 10 largest cities in the United States, this city is one of two that does not have an ordinance to protect all of its citizens.  Those others are cities that Houston competes with to get corporations and high-profile business deals.”  said Roberts.

Mike Craig, the operations and planning director for  Out and Equal Houston, made some related points in his comments…

“The city of Houston is in direct competition with cities all across the country for people to come here and work.  The next generation of young workers… they expect that there is not going to be workplace discrimination.  I want those people to know that they are welcome in Houston.”

Some also took the opportunity to question the Council Member about his past statements on equality.  When he was running for office, Kubosh indicated on several questionnaires that he would not support a “San- Antonio style ordinance” that extended equality protections to citizens regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.  His reply to the questions was direct, saying that since the campaign, he has gotten to know more people affected by these issues and has a better understanding of them from personal level.

Former Council Member Jolanda “Jo” Jones also attended, and shared her insight on why the ordinance should be passed…

“It is important for the city to get on the right side of the Human Rights fight.  To me, this is not a GLBT issue, it is a Human Rights issue.”

Throughout the Town Hall, citizens shared their stories, and worked hard to combat some of the “myths” that have overtaken the right-wing discussions in the equality debate.  I did not ask the Council Member’s thoughts directly following the meeting, but the fact that it was even held is an indication of progress.  Kubosh listened very intently to his constituents, and showed concern for their issues.

The next setting for this debate takes place on Wednesday, April 30th at City Hall, for a Quality of Life Committee meeting.  It’s expected to have a large crowd, so if you plan to attend, get there early.

JRP Kubosh