Give credit to the full moon if you want, but more likely it was not only great planning, but also the fact that Houston in the past year elected one of its own gay citizens as mayor, that made 2010′s Gay Pride Parade one of the most lively and quite well attended by a very diverse group of spectators and participants. (From my own point of view, this parade was the best one since I began attending in the early 80s.)
Mayor Annise Parker, who was one of the honorary parade marshalls, and her partner Kathy Hubbard rode in one of the lead convertibles, and having a gay mayor seems to have positively affected many aspects of the parade. There were many more elected officials in the parade than ever before. And while, yes, it is an election year, I got the feeling that many of them were there because, now with a gay mayor, it’s “OK” to take part in the parade, and they also see the value of gay voters.
The parade entries represented a much broader spectrum than I’ve ever seen, from the traditional motorcycle and leather groups to businesses including a funeral home disco bus to a wide range of religious groups including Buddhists and (I think) pagans.
Starting at 8:45 PM, the generally smooth-moving parade ran just at about 2 hours, with very few people leaving early at has been the case in some years when the parade lost momentum because of long breaks between entries. Many more floats and vehicles had pulsing music blasting out to the onlookers, of gay, straight, young,
old, sober, drunk and many other types, who were happily moving to the beat and catching tossed beads. However, unlike last year, the atmosphere this year was one of festivity and communal enjoyment among among parade participants and spectators alike, rather than just a mad scramble to get the “loot’ tossed from the floats, as was my take on last year’s event.
The metal barriers put along the streetsides were a better deterrent for keeping people from running out among the floats and other parade vehicles for dropped trinkets. The parade volunteers did a good job of tossing misdirected beads out to viewers, and the police seemed to stay on task of keeping everything safe without
interacting a lot with parade goers. This year there were no police on horseback out patrolling the street, after last year’s accident in which a woman watching the parade was trampled by a police horse. Though one of the surprises of the evening was when I turned around and seven or eight of them were lined up behind me on the corner of California and Westheimer.
One of the great things about the parade this year was seeing the broad mix of people both viewing and participating in the parade. This diversity, somewhat due to the popularity of Mayor Parker, shows that more and more Houstonians see gay people and gay events as part of the entire Houston community, not “apart from” as has been the case in the past.
(Though I have to admit, the photos I’m posting may not be as diverse as the event itself. My blog–I’ll post what I like. I’ll upload more later. Come back.)
The parade has changed and gotten larger, but one of the charms is that the floats and placards are, for the most part, created by the organizations themselves, not commercially made. This “realness” adds even more connection between parade participants and spectators and makes for an even more festive atmosphere. (“Festive”–that’s a gay word, ya know.)
Link for post and photos of Houston Pride Festival (daytime)
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