As Americans are still learning about the tragedy that befell an Orlando, Florida nightclub, LGBT communities across the nation are organizing to mourn the victims, and call for action.
From the Inbox, here’s a notification from Pride Houston…
Tonight we stand in solidarity against hate in any form. Tonight we stand together in strength to show that fear will not win. Tonight we stand in silence as we mourn the lives lost in the senseless act of terrorism in Orlando.
We stand with our allies, friends, families and loved ones.
Join us for a candlelight vigil to grieve those LGBT people and allies lost in the attack.
We Stand In Love
Tonight, June 13, 2016 – 6:00pm
The Montrose Center
401 Branard St, Houston, Texas 77006
The Montrose Center
Legacy Community Health
So if you’re in Houston, here’s an opportunity to stand with the community in Orlando. But even beyond the shows of support, it’s high time that we call for actions that can prevent and abate the ‘easy access’ to such weapons of slaughter. Why do people that have been placed on the FBI terror watch list even have such access to purchase guns? It’s a question worth asking, and an action worth taking so these types of tragedies don’t continue.
Sometimes a series of unlikely events converge to yield what is ultimately the best of all possible conclusions. For months prior to the week of Houston’s official Pride celebrations, the continued success of those festivities was somewhat in question. Pride Houston, the organization charged with planning producing and executing the massive festival and parade each year, had some early difficulties when it first announced last October that the signature events would be relocated to downtown… away from their traditional home in the Montrose neighborhood. The move came as a total surprise to the many organizations that plan and participate in Pride, as well as local businesses who often cited the parade’s convenient location to be of great benefit.
Barely one month later, Pride Houston once again frustrated community leaders by announcing plans to change the date of Pride from the expected last weekend of June (June 27th) to one week earlier (June 20th). Had this move occurred the city’s LGBT celebration would have been in direct conflict with observances of the Sesquicentennial Anniversary of Juneteenth… an event which prior to a contentious meeting with community leaders was unknown to local Pride leaders.
Even despite this arduous journey, in the case of Pride Houston all is well that truly ends well. Leaders rightfully moved the Parade to downtown in part because they hoped to eventually grow the size and scope of the festival. But because Pride planners also listened to community leaders and decided to hold the festivities on the June 27th date, Houston received the special bonus of being the first Pride celebration in Texas after the Supreme Court’s historic decision to legalize marriage equality across the United States. What resulted was by all accounts, the largest Pride celebration in city history, in a venue well designed to accommodate the roaring crowds.
On June 26th one day before the planned Pride festivities, city leaders gathered for a joyful and spontaneous rally following the day’s court decision. Mayor Annise Parker, and now formally recognized First Lady of Houston Kathy Hubbard were all smiles at the event. With the ruling, their marriage too was now official in the state of Texas.
Mayor Annise Parker speaking just hours after the Supreme Court struck down Texas’ same-sex marriage ban, and brought marriage equality to all 50 states.
Houston’s First Lady Kathy Hubbard beams while linking arms with wife, Mayor Annise Parker.
Prominent allies like State Senator Sylvia Garcia (above) and State Legislator Garnet Coleman also made time to speak at the impromptu event, and show support on the historic day.
On Saturday June 27th, many Houstonians experienced a new way to get to Pride. Now that it is being held in downtown, celebrants can park their cars, and arrive at the event via MetroRail. Patrons parked all along the lines, including sites like Fannin South station, Northline Mall and the University of Houston main campus.
The iconic canyon skyscrapers lining Smith street became the new backdrop for Houston’s Pride Parade.
Record crowds attended the Pride Festival and parade.
Houston Social Media Director Melissa Ragsdale Darragh, Mayor Annise Parker and First Lady Kathy Hubbard smile before the parade. Melissa also placed 3rd in the 2015 Pride SuperStar singing competition, and is an avid LGBT ally. (Photo credit: Mayor’s facebook page)
No official numbers have been released yet, but many believe that this year’s Pride parade had well over 700,00 attendees, shattering previous records for the city of Houston. Kudos to all of the incredible volunteers, and to Pride Houston leadership for producing a monumental celebration. It’s safe to say that many Houstonians and out-of-town visitors will be looking forward to our version of Pride next year.
The Current introduces us to “Mansplainer: The Statue”.
RG Ratcliffe reminds us that the Lege is hoarding $18 billion of our money.
June is the official start of LGBT Pride Month, with celebrations kicking off across the state of Texas this weekend. The official Pride Houston celebration will be held the weekend of June 27th and June 28th.
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.
Much to the surprise of Houston LGBT community leaders, next year’s annual Pride Festival and Parade will have a new location. Pride organizers announced the news yesterday at a press conference in Downtown. Here’s the scoop from Joey Guerra of the Houston Chronicle…
The Houston LGBT Pride Celebration, after more than 30 years in Montrose, is moving downtown.
“Pride Houston has outgrown the space required to produce quality activities associated with the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration,” Pride Houston president Frankie Quijano said. “Downtown is already host to many successful annual festivals and parades. The downtown location also ensures greater access to parking, public transportation, hotels, emergency personnel and other facilities within walking distance of the celebration.”
At the press conference, Quijano also said that the changed was already approved by the Board of Pride Houston by a 7 to 1 vote. Community leaders were shocked to find out about the changes, as it seems that no one was informed of this in advance of the Board vote. Here’s more on that response, via News92FM…
Pride Houston said the decision to move the 2015 parade came because the event has gotten so big. On its website, Pride said downtown can accommodate more people, and has better parking.
But Jack Valinski, founder and former committee member of Pride Houston, said the move came as a surprise.
“I am not necessarily against the move, I am against the idea that they moved it without really talking to the community,” Valinksi said.
The website said committee members met with the Mayor Annise Parker’s office, with the Houston Police and fire department.
But Valinski said the committee did not meet with the LGBT community.
“This is where our heart is and this is where the center of our universe is, Montrose and Westheimer,” Valinksi said, “and the fact that they’re leaving that are without consideration of even talking to people is a real slap in the face to the community.”
Several aspects surrounding the announcement seem suspect as well. Pride Houston chooses this week to break the news knowing that Mayor Parker is on a trade mission in Asia, and therefore unavailable to share her insight on the community’s concerns.
If Pride Houston has indeed outgrown the neighborhood, it stands to reason that organizers want to institute a sound plan for its future. Houstonians are incredibly supportive of the LGBT community, and want the Pride celebrations to continue to grow. But having a vote with little public notice, followed by a stealth and sudden announcement was not the way to make those changes happen. Many Montrose businesses count on Pride festivities, not just for increased sales during that one week, but as critical promotion and advertising so that customers will come back throughout the year. As a longtime partner in the area, Pride Houston had an obligation to work with community leaders and business professionals affected by the move, and should have done so before this decision came up for a vote.
Even with those huge missteps, this will hopefully be a good move for the City of Houston. No one can deny the special role that Montrose has played, and continues to play in national LGBT history, as well as the movement for equality. Today GCAM, the Gulf Coast Archive and Museum of LGBT History, is actively working to establish a permanent museum site for these treasured stories. Growing pains are being felt all over the Houston region, and Pride festivities are no exception to that swell.
Though the decision has already been made (and Pride Houston makes that very clear on their website), there will be a forum this Saturday to discuss the move and its various implications. If you have comments, this is the place to share them with others, and have all community perspectives be heard. Let’s hope that Pride Houston learns from their mistakes on this one.