Loud, Proud, and Drawing a Crowd: Pride 2009
Houston’s annual Gay Pride parade is “Out 4 Justice” and livelier than ever before
It is so much more than just an example of our pride, it is a chance to educate the rest of the city on all aspects of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender community. Pride gives the viewer a chance to see their friends, neighbors, relatives, and co-workers, and realize just how many GLBT folks there are in each of our lives.—PBS personality, Ernie Manouse
Who can resist a parade? With junk food, floats, and celebrations, what’s not to love? Drawing masses of cross-dressers, Cher-wannabes, and pink boas, Houston’s Gay Pride Parade is one of the summer’s biggest parties. Martinis and mayhem aside, Pride is a time to celebrate our city’s gay community, commemorate the history of the national Gay Rights Movement, and educate fellow citizens. From the High Heel Drag Race in Washington DC to the Dyke March in San Francisco, one thing is for sure: no matter their strife or struggle, the gay community knows how to party.
On June 27, Montrose will be an impassioned blend of antics á la Mardi Gras and effusive drag queens. The day starts with an afternoon festival featuring musical performers and booths sponsored by local businesses. The actual parade—the country’s only nighttime gay pride parade—kicks-off at sunset. Universities, nonprofit organizations, and local businesses sponsor extravagantly decorated floats. Watching pride-filled mamas and papas on the PFLAG float (parents, families, and friends of lesbians and gays) glide by is always a proud moment. A seemingly endless flood of humanity, the parade draws a crowd of nearly 200,000 and ends with all-night celebrations at local clubs and bars.
The head honcho on parade day is the Grand Marshall. Short-listed by nominations and evaluated by Pride committee members and past honorees, the Grand Marshall is ultimately selected by the community. It’s a huge honor to be chosen. This year’s male winner is James Knapp, the Artistic and Managing Director of the Bayou City Performing Arts, the oldest gay men’s chorus in the nation. His passionate involvement embodies the mission of Houston’s GLBT community. Fiona Dawson, the female honoree, is an award-winning activist with the Human Rights Campaign and Bering Omega, an organization that offers physical, emotional and spiritual support to AIDS patients and their families.
The gay community is known for their tendency to party like rock stars. For the first year ever, Pride is not selling alcohol and has reserved a drinking-free family retreat on the parade route. Organizers want fellow citizens to view the day as an opportunity for the whole city to see friends, neighbors, and coworkers celebrate their identity.
Every year people struggling with their sexual orientation come to Pride in search of answers. For the first time in their life, they are surrounded by thousands of people who support, care, and respect them just as they are. President Odom advises newbies to, “Come with an open mind. Watch the parade go by and you’ll notice, ‘that person’s not like me, that person’s not like me, that person is like me.’ You don’t see how big the community really is every day. When we all come together at Pride, you do.”
Ladies in leather and men in mascara, straight, gay, and transgendered—Pride is an experience like no other. Whether it’s to gape at revelers, support your loved ones, or just have fun, Pride is a time when everyone is safe, welcome, and most importantly, respected.
I dream of a day when everyone goes out and there is no such thing as gay bars or straight bars, there’s just bars.—Pride President, Brad Odom
Fast Facts on the Gay Community:
- Texas has the third most same-sex couple households in the country.
- The Montrose neighborhood has the tenth highest concentration of same-sex households in the country.
- Houston hosts the largest Pride festivities in the Southwestern United States.
- There are 17 LGBT nightclubs within walking distance in the Montrose area.
- Houston ranks fourth among U.S. cities with same-sex couples raising children.Source: www.visithoustontexas.com
- Countries that Recognize Gay Marriage:
Canada, Belgium, Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain
- U.S. States that Recognize Gay Marriage:
District of Columbia
- Nations that Allow Civil Unions:
Brazil, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom
- States that Allow Civil Unions:
Connecticut, New Hampshire, Oregon, Washington*With the passing of Proposition 8, California’s rights are currently being debated in the Supreme Court.