Houston Gay Pride Parade Follow-up: The Police and “Hello Kitty”

HPD officer enjoying himself big time with the "Hello Kitty" Brigade

HPD officer enjoying himself big time with the "Hello Kitty" Brigade

After all of the discussion about the Houston Chronicle story about the woman being trampled by a police officer’s horse at the Pride Parade and all the seeming interest in the “Hello Kitty” entry of the Gay Asians and Friends entry in the parade, I thought I needed to add another post. From the pictures, it’s very evident that at least one member of HPD was having the time of his life. Also, the “Hello Kitty” group was one of the most unique of the whole parade. (Thanks to Asians and Friends Houston for a couple of the photos.) Check out more of the parade and other Houston Pride events here.

Resting Kitties before the parade

Resting Kitties before the parade

Getting ready to start the parade

Getting ready to start the parade

Finally, going down Westheimer

Finally, going down Westheimer

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Sad Note on Houston’s Gay Pride Parade When Woman Hurt by Police Horse

Houston Police Department leads the parade, members definitely in a festive mood with sirens going and bullhorns asking for noise from the crowd. Totally positive attitude from HPD, definitely different from years ago--shows how far everyone has come.

Houston Police Department leads the parade, members definitely in a festive mood with sirens going and bullhorns asking for noise from the crowd. Totally positive attitude from HPD, definitely different from years ago--shows how far everyone has come.

Apparently, there was a woman trampled by a police officer’s horse down near Stanford Street during the parade last night. The comments to the Chronicle article are saying all kinds of things, but I was quite a few blocks from there, so I can say nothing about what happened in that incident.

However, nothing I saw done by the police last night was negative; most everything was positive and then some. They had a great contingent leading off the parade. The head car, in fact, was one they use for recruitment and several of the officers walking alongside were gay (based on my “gaydar”). The police cars had sirens going and the lead car driver was trying to liven up the crowd, shouting things like, “Let’s make some noise” over his bullhorn.

These HPD officers very cordial with everyone as they patrolled the parade.

These HPD officers acted very cordially with everyone as they patrolled the parade.

The couple of street patrol officers who were in the area where I was standing often let people cross the street between floats in nice, easy-going way. They kept people off the street, but most of the time while they were near me, they were chatting about “nothing”, not saying anything about the parade or the onlookers. One of them seemed bored, and was engrossed in text-messaging for a good, long while.

I was paying attention to all that because I can’t say I always have had a “love” for the police, and sometimes at past parades, I had seen them be somewhat aggressive in their crowd control.

But I thought the involvement of the police, the firefighters, and even a group of city employees says a lot about how far everyone has come since the early years of the gay pride parades.

The problem is that almost every entry in the parade throws out beads or some other kind of small, cheap favor and half of the people scramble out into the street to pick up dropped ones or even go up to the float riders begging for more. On top of that, many of these same people have no sense about their own safety, because they are so intent upon getting these trinkets, and for quite a few, the alcohol factor can be added in.

I thought to myself as I watched last night that I had never seen so many adults acting like children when they were going after these little bits of cheap nothings, and the meaning of the parade itself was only secondary in their frenzy to grab anything that might be tossed toward the side of the street.

Read more about Houston’s Pride Parade here.

Gay Pride Houston 2009

At dusk, before the start of the parade--surrey tram bikes carrying parade-goers around.

At dusk, before the start of the parade--surrey tram bikes carrying parade-goers around.

View before the parade--Bambolino's Pizza--the big crowds are always further down--near the intersection of Montrose and Westheimer

View before the parade--Bambolino's Pizza--the big crowds are always further down--near the intersection of Montrose and Westheimer

Houston’s Pride Parade took place last night ( Saturday, June 27, 2009).  (Check out the 2010 parade here.) Not having gone last year, I decided to endure the heat and parking difficulties to go take it in. I’ve missed a few since my first parade in 1983, but not many. They changed through the years, but not so much. Houston’s Pride Parade is a typical parade of floats, marching groups, dignitaries, and commercial entries. Thousands of people attend, but the large majority watch from curbside rather than throng into the street as they do in some other cities.

Mayor Bill White gives me a wave.

Mayor Bill White gives me a wave.

Some differences from years gone by: fewer drag queens, fewer floats with muscle guys, fewer bar-sponsored floats. However, there are more marching groups of all kinds, more exuberant participation by public officials, police and firefighters, and many more business and corporate entries.

Likewise, the atmosphere has changed. What used to be a more raucous, festive parade with heavy-beat dance music pumped from the floats (there’s still a little of that) has become a sporadic frenzy of bead-grabbing, as almost every entry has colored chains and other chucherias to toss into the crowds alongside.

Part of the police contigent

Part of the police contingent

These crowds are definitely different from years gone by when it was mostly gays and lesbians and others of the “artsy” kind. Now it’s definitely a mixed crowd, and not exactly easy to always identify who is gay and who is straight or even “whatever”.

In my opinion, though, this Mardi Gras-like bead-tossing, while definitely bringing in a wider variety of people takes something away from the parade’s significance. So many people are jostling and running for the favors thrown out that they really could care less about the significance of the organization or people throwing them the “goodies”. Maybe this attraction helps make the many non-gays in the crowds more gay accepting. I think only the future knows if this is so. Anyway, the parade is a chance for everyone to have a good time and and enjoy the culture. Yes, it’s a culture, not a lifestyle, and a pretty fun culture if you get to know it.

(Check here for information about Houston Pride 2010.)

Some of the South Beach guys having a good time

Some of the South Beach guys having a good time

One of the more unique entries

One of the more unique entries

Gay Asians and Friends and "Hello Kitty"

Gay Asians and Friends and "Hello Kitty"

PFLAGHouston always gets a huge response from the crowds

PFLAGHouston always gets a huge response from the crowds

Guys from the Club Crystal float

Guys from the Club Cristal float

The Bunnies on the Bayou entry

The Bunnies on the Bayou entry

One of the many business and corporate parade participants

One of the many business and corporate parade participants

Impact Houston--one of the large number of activists groups participating

Impact Houston--one of the large number of activists groups participating

Happy Gay Pride, Houston!

Taking in the sights in the heat of the day at Houston's Pride Festival

Taking in the sights in the heat of the day at Houston's Pride Festival

Pride Fesival just beginning near the corner of Waugh and Westheimer

Pride Fesival just beginning near the corner of Waugh and Westheimer

Impact Houston members holding down the fort at the group's booth

Impact Houston members holding down the fort at the group's booth

More of the festival on the Lovett Esplanade

More of the festival on the Lovett Esplanade

Just after noontime, I went down to the Pride Festival . The start time was 11 AM. There were lots of booths of all types, lots of gay organizations for every interest and various vendors. All I can say is “Hot, hot, hot.” And I am talking about the temperature. The car thermometer said 98 when I left home, and out there on the radiating pavement, it had to have been much higher. Some groups were passing out hand fans. Though, I’m not sure what effect they were having. Despite the heat, the number of people increased during my short 20 minutes there. I talked to some great people at the Impact Houston booth, and then as I was leaving a street evangelist tried to make some headway with me. Ha! No luck there. I can’t imagine how people are standing it now in the hottest part of the afternoon. I’m planning to go back for the parade tonight. It starts at 8:45 PM; here’s hoping there will be some relief from the heat by then.

prideFestival_logo 2009The Pride Festival runs until 7 PM in Montrose, just south of Westheimer near Commonwealth. Admission is free for all kinds of entertainment, including music and exhibits.

The unique night parade begins at 8:45 running down Westheimer from Dunlavy to Crocker.

For details about these and other Houston Pride events, check www.pridehouston.org/events/ .

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And So It Goes–Another “Moral” Republican, Presidential-Hopeful “Goes Down” . . . So To Speak . . . All the Way to Argentina

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, another of the "A-List" Republicans

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, another one of the "A-List" Republicans

“Lost” Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina has come back to the States from Argentina, and upon his return admitted to having an affair with an Argentinian woman whom he had met some eight years ago.  This is the same Republican governor who made such a big fuss over the stimulus package and didn’t want to take money for his state, which in the end the state legislature accepted.

We probably should start making some tick marks on the calendar to see how many weeks in a row, these Republican big-wigs are going to “come out” admitting to breaking some biblical rule.  It was just last week that U.S. Senator John Ensign admitted to having had an affair with an employee, who was also the wife of one of his top aides.

These types are the same ones who rail against gay marriage and espouse the “sanctity of marriage”.

Just once I’d like to hear from any of the bible-beaters and have them show where that book says there is anything wrong with love, either gay or straight.  What I don’t understand is where they get all so quiet and seem like the shyest little girl in the corner, when one of these conservative Republicans breaks one of the 10 commandants from their own holy book.  I mean, one of the 10 commandments; that should be like really a big deal, but they’d rather go on harping, campaigning, and spending money trying to tear down gay people based on a few debatable verses.

Well, Good For North Carolina!

state-flag-north-carolinaAccording to the Greensboro News-Record, today, the House of Representatives of North Carolina passed an anti-bullying law, which includes race, religion, physical appearance, sexual orientation, and gender identity.  The Governor of North Carolina, Beverly Perdue, says that she will probably sign the bill, which narrowly passed by a 58-57 vote.

North Carolina will join 11 other states that have anti-bullying statutes that protect gay students.

More Damaging Fallout for Republicans from the Ensign Affair; More of their “Moral” Values Lead to Even More Hypocrisy

John Ensign, Republican Senator

John Ensign, Republican Senator

The situation surrounding the admitted affair of Nevada Republican Senator John Ensign is getting even more damaging for Republicans.

Doug Hampton, the husband of the woman who was involved with Ensign, says he wrote a letter to that favorite network of the right, Fox News, informing them of the affair and asking for their help. Both Hampton and his wife Darlene had worked for Hampton, and their 19-year-old son had also been given a job during the affair.

In the letter, Hampton also said that Hampton’s roommate, Republican Senator from Oklahoma, Tom Coburn, knew about the affair. (Please tell me–why do U.S. Senators need roommates?)

Fox News claims that they didn’t get a letter from Hampton, but strangely enough, it was not soon thereafter that Ensign publicly admitted to the affair.

Ensign’s Republican colleagues are saying nothing more than it’s a private situation and they feel so sorry for his family.

What short memories they have! How much time and taxpayers’ money did the Republicans in Congress spend trying to force President Clinton out of office after the Lewinsky revelations? For months on end, basically all other congressional work stopped so that they could force every little detail out. But now with Ensign, they want only to say, “It’s a personal situation.” What hypocrites!

One of those giving support to Ensign is beleaguered Governor of Nevada, Jim Gibbons, who is in the process of divorcing his wife. The Las Vegas Sun says this about Gibbons’ response to Ensign’s admission:

Ensign’s admission comes on top of a string of disclosures and allegations about Gibbons. Since his election in 2006, Gibbons has been accused of sexual assault, sending love notes on a state phone and improperly firing a state employee. In recent court documents related to divorce proceedings, his wife, Dawn, accused him of a history of infidelity.

This is the same Gibbons who recently vetoed a domestic partners bill in Nevada. Fortunately, the Nevada Senate was able to override Gibbons’ veto.

Aren’t these two Nevada Republican politicians the true posterboys for the sanctity of marriage? How many more closet doors will be cracked open before people realize the true hypocrisy in the actions and words of these leaders of the so-called “moral” Grand Old Party.