Throngs of Participants Celebrate Marriage Equality at Pride Houston 2015 in City’s Downtown (Hashtag–LoveWins)

Throngs of people await the beginning of Pride Houston's LGBT Parade 2015. Previous years, I would have said

Throngs of people await the beginning of Pride Houston’s LGBT Parade 2015. Previous years, I would have said “lined up,” but there was no lining up for the masses that came to downtown Houston to be part of this event on this historic occasion.

On the heels of the only one-day-old Supreme Court’ announcement of marriage equality for the entire country, Houston was revved up for PrideHouston‘s showcase events, the festival and the parade.  Besides tremendous legal decree, another major change for the Houston LGBT events was the move from the Montrose “gayborhood” to downtown Houston.

i, personally, made some changes.  Although for years, I had lived in Montrose and walked the few blocks to the parade, later I moved a bit further away and had to drive to Montrose, find a parking place, usually many blocks away, and then make the walk to Westheimer Road to view the parade.  Now for last six years, I’ve been 25 miles out in the suburbs and making the effort to go take in all of the parade is an even bigger decision.  I always love the feeling of being amongst “my people,” something that I don’t have out here, but when I think about standing out in the Houston heat and being jostled around by drunk straights, I have doubts about going.

These guys wanted me to take their photo from my perch on the bleachers, and I was happy to comply.  They were just part of the excited, very diverse of parade attendees.

These guys wanted me to take their photo from my perch on the bleachers, and I was happy to comply. They were just part of the excited, very diverse of parade attendees.

Mostly, though, I want to go, and this year, I decided that getting tickets for the Friends of Pride VIP bleacher seating was worth the cost.  In fact, it was.  With an open bar, all kinds of buffet food, incredible music, decent restrooms, and a gift bag to be filled with all kinds of LGBT chucherías.  The bleachers, though further back than the edge-of-sidewalk view that I had always taken in years past was a great vantage point, just across from the main stage, to enjoy all of the parade entries.

In fact, the mood of the event was of tremendous celebration, very much a victory celebration, and obvious harmony among all, even event organizers and law enforcement  I haven’t seen an attendance number estimate but from the throngs of people packing the downtown streets, there must have been many more attendees than last year’s 450,000.  The parade entries were diverse in types, many new ones added to those of previous years, with emotional members that kept giving off their excitement embed by that of all those smushed together along the sides of the streets.  It really was one of the best, perhaps the best, of all the parades I’ve been able to enjoy.

Mayor Annise Parker and wife Kathy Hubbard greet parade attendees. Competition to replace Mayor Parker when she leaves office (due to term limits) appears to be fierce as evidenced by the large number of candidates who appeared in the parade, trying to garner attention and possible votes.

Mayor Annise Parker and wife Kathy Hubbard greet parade attendees. Competition to replace Mayor Parker when she leaves office (due to term limits) appears to be fierce as evidenced by the large number of candidates who appeared in the parade, trying to garner attention and possible votes.

HFD's Ladder Truck 16 carries associated revelers on top as it makes it way down the Pride Houston Parade route.

HFD’s Ladder Truck 16 carries associated revelers on top as it makes it way down the Pride Houston Parade route.

One of the many floats in the parade--I really don't care that from my viewing spot many of my photos weren't very good.  It was a great place to have fun and enjoy the atmosphere of the entrée event.

One of the many floats in the parade with Houston city Hall lit up in rotating rainbow colors in the background–I really don’t care that from my viewing spot many of my photos weren’t very good. It was a great place to have fun and enjoy the atmosphere of the entrée event.

One of the many commercial entries, Kroger brought its bad of groceries to the parade.

One of the many commercial entries, Kroger brought its bad of groceries to the parade.

Celebrate Your Pride By Taking a Look and Listen to Music from a Couple of New Artists from Down South, Like Way Down South (America)

It’s June.  That’s Pride Month.  Not to mention the U.S. Supreme Court is merely days away from making a momentous decision on same-sex marriage.  Here in Houston LGBT Pride activities are in full swing, culminating with the daytime festival and evening (into night) parade this Saturday, June 27th.  For the first time, these two events will be held in downtown Houston instead of the Montrose area, where the first Houston Gay Pride Parade took place in 1979.  (Find all the details about Houston Pride here.)

To celebrate LGBT pride here on the blog, I decided to introduce a couple of talented artists who have no fear of showing their true selves in their videos.  I found out about these two young Latin American performers thanks to remezcla.com and since my first listen to one video each, their tunes have been stuck in my head.  They are from neighboring South American countries.  Namuel, from Chile, has just put out this catchy single “Babycakes,” and the accompanying video can only be described as “cute and sweet.”  The video here from Jaloo, out of Brazil, also with an LGBT theme, goes with his “Bai Bai.”  This is a cover from a very popular song of a couple of years ago.  I’ll keep you guessing and not spoil it so you’ll listen.  I don’t understand much Portuguese, so I can’t say if the lyrics are the same, but the music in what I’d say is brega-style (I’m just learning about this genre of music, but I might compare it in a way to reggaeton. No matter the style, this tune keeps playing in my head much more than the original, which I really like.

Check out more great work from Namuel and Jaloo on YouTube and SoundCloud, where you’ll find a lot more by these terrific artists.

Happy Pride, y’all!

Rainy Days Make For an Opportunity To Binge-watch a Couple of Gay-Themed Telenovelas

Having a 3-day weekend (Spring Break Day–yeah, one day) allowed me to get the usual weekend chores taken care of early, and with it being a dreary, rainy Saturday, I split time between watching NCAA March Madness basketball and binge-watching a couple of Portuguese telenovelas on YouTube. Thanks to YouTuber Safe Light, the two soaps, Os Nossos Dias Our Time) and O Beijo do Escorpião (Scorpion’s Kiss), have been edited down to just the gay story lines, which are part of both, and added English subtitles. The gay story in Os Nossos Dias is that of David and Xavier, played by Duarte Gomes and Sisley Dias, a couple of guys and their developing relationship.  While Xavier is more open about his sexuality, David has a live-in girl friend, who also works at the same cafe as he does, and is struggling to come to terms with himself and his feelings.  Os Nossos Dias came on air in 2013, and the story is ongoing.  So far, Safe Light has added 33 YouTube segments of David & Xavier. The gay story of O Beijo do Escorpião also features Gomes, this time as Miguel, a pilot for a business jet company.  Gomes is paired up with Pedro Carvalho, who plays Paulo, his best friend and co-pilot.  Though the story begins with  Paulo in a hidden relationship, Miguel seems to be a typical playboy during his non-flying hours.  Their story, of course, has the many twists and turns of any soap, and one must take it as such, it also has moments worth reaching for the Kleenex.

Ryan Dolan’s Got a New Tune and Video: “Fall to the Floor”–You Might Shoulda Oughta Listen

OK, so I’m in a rebellious grammar sorta mood tonight (when you’re supposed to be correct all day, you get that way). Anyway, my Irish twitter pal has a new song, and the video highlights a story that we don’t see all that often. I think you’re going to like it.

Another Year and More Reflection–But Anyway, Happy Pride 2014, Houston!

 

OK, so even out here in the suburbs, we can show our pride.

OK, so even out here in the suburbs, we can show our pride.

It’s that time of year again–LGBT pride month.  Really, it’s all about the parade, which is going to happen today in Houston–8:15 down on what we used to call lower Westheimer (well, maybe lower Westheimer is really beyond Montrose Avenue).  The festival is today also and starts at 11:00 AM.  Get any info about these events and all other Houston Pride activities here.)

I seem to always get reflective this time of year.  It’s hard not to.  It’s the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City, which in a way was the start of the concept of “Gay Pride” and the point (at least in the U.S.) in time when some gay people decided to “stop taking shit” from the cops and others for just being who they were.

I only know about this from reading about it a number of years later.  At the time, I had just finished my sophomore year at Fort Hays State University out in western Kansas and had a summer job working for the Union Pacific Railroad (other posts about that here).  I might have heard something about Stonewall on the TV news, but if I did it just got mixed together with all the anti-Vietnam War protests that were happening in other places in the country, and were a rarity (I do remember at least a couple that happened near campus) in rural areas.  In fact, for me, at that time, isolated as I was, I had no idea about me, or anyone else, being gay; it was a totally unknown concept. (But all of that has to be left for another post.)

I attended my first gay pride after I had returned to college.  Some friends and I from Kansas State University drove to Kansas City and marched in the parade there.  I say “marched” but groups were not all that organized, so it was more like we “snaked” through the downtown streets of KCMO.  The year was either 1979 or 1980, but my memory leans toward the earlier year.

I’m pretty sure that the first pride parade that I attended in Houston was in 1984.  I’ve missed some–but not very many along the way.  After moving out to the suburbs, it’s always a decision whether it’s worth the drive back into the city and the struggle to find a parking place.  However, that decision has already been made.  And like last year, I’m picking up a friend and we’ll go down to Montrose to enjoy the pre-parade people-watching and then the actual event itself.

There is something new though this year: lawn chairs.  It’s time.  It is just too much to go early to find a not-too-far-in-the-boondocks parking place, walk to find a good spot on the parade route, and stand waiting and then stand watching.  So into the car trunk the folding chairs will go.

So Take a Listen to Ryan Dolan–You Might Find Yourself Hooked on This Irish Singer

I’m not really sure how I ran into Ryan Dolan, but soon after I saw his youtube video for Ireland’s entry in Eurovision 2013 with his song Only Love Survives, I was hooked. And for sure, I was pretty happy when I got a tweet back from him  (@RyanDolanMusic) for something I had mentioned about him.  Turns out he’s a really good guy.

Now he’s got a new single out, Start Again.  It’s quite different from his Eurovision song, and the video that’s been made for it is something that everyone should judge for himself.  I don’t think very many on this side of the Atlantic have heard his music.  Take a look at the videos; they are worth a listen.  I’m hoping some station here in the U.S. will start playing him.

 

There are a number of videos for Only Love Survives, but I like this one from Irish television.

 

 

With “All-American Boy” Going Viral, Steve Grand Makes Appearance on “Good Morning America”

One week ago I posted a video by out artist Steve Grand.  Now his “All-American Boy” has become viral, nearing, at this writing, 700,000 hits on youtube.  Based on all this online play time, Grand appeared today on ABC’s “Good Morning America”.  Though short, his interview gives some insight into Grand’s coming out and his impetus for creating the song and video.

While this may be Grand’s breakthrough video, with a quick search on youtube, others by Grand can be found, some in conjunction with other performers and some under the name Steve Starchild.

If you’re interested in a longer read on Grand, check this out at Buzzfeed Music.

Celebrate the Fourth of July with Red, White, and Boy, Erm–Blue; Catch Steve Grand’s New Single and Video

I enjoy gay shorts–gay short films, that is.  They have been a staple of gay film festivals for years, and many classics as well as recent productions are available with just a brief search of youtube or dailymotion.

“All-American Boy” by out, country singer Steve Grand could stand as a short film on its own, but add the lyrics and music and this video becomes something special.  Not to mention Steve is one pretty fine firecracker.  

Download the song and read more at http://stevegrand.bandcamp.com

Get more of Steve on Twitter @stevegrandmusic and http://www.facebook.com/SteveGrandArtist

Tegan and Sara Just Might Be the New Best Thing

This duo caught my ear on the work commute a few months back on Sirius Radio’s 108 (OutQ).  I don’t know all that much about Tegan and Sara except they’re twin lesbians originally from Canada (more here).  The single that really gave a yank to my ear is “I’m Not Your Hero” (check out the Eo3 remix below).  It’s a piece of ear candy that I want to listen to over and over again.

However, after trying out a number of of their other songs on youtube, I found most of them just kind of unpolished, though that sound may be a draw for some of their fans.  This past Monday night Tegan and Sarah were one of the groups performing on Logo‘s NewNowNext award show.  That live performance, too, left me wanting something.  The energy they give off is akin to that of a graduate student in a professional writing program.

That last analogy hits you as over-harsh, but should this pair keep on with the sound, on what I take is their latest single, “I Was a Fool,” Tegan and Sara may just be the new best thing.  This new one is clean and the lyrics pull you in.  Hope you take a listen.

Trip to the Outhouse–Blogging, Four Years and Counting . . . and It All Started with Hurricane Ike and Matthew Mitcham

Matthew Mitcham, having fun, before the start of the 2012 London Olympics (photo @matthew_mitcham)

It’s hard to believe that four years have gone by since I first started this blog.  It’s doubtful that I would have put in this much continued effort were it not for two big topics that I blogged about back in 2008, the devastating Hurricane Ike, which passed through southeast Texas, and gay Australian diver, Matthew Mitcham, who was a gold medal in the Beijing Olympics.

There’s not that much evidence of the extensive damage that Hurricane Ike caused, even when you head down to hard-hit Galveston and the Bolivar Peninsula.  Galveston, though still trying to recover population numbers, is once again bustling with out-of-state tourists and day-trippers from nearby Houston, who are attracted by the warm water, great restaurants, and new entertainment venues.  If you take the ferry and cross to Bolivar Peninsula, you pass by new sub-divisions of beachhouses, most of which rise high off the ground to protect them from rising water.

When it comes to the second topic, Matthew Mitcham is back, once again competing in olympic diving, this time in London.   After winning his gold medal in the 10 meter platform dive, Mitcham, at age 20, became one of the most–if not the most–well-known out gay athletes in the world.  For some so young, being such a worldwide celebrity might have been a heavy load to carry.  However, Mitcham, as athlete, activist, and product spokesperson, has worn all of his hats well, and once again is back competing in the London 2012 Olympics.

While this blog attracted many readers because of my telling of the events happening to me personally and that of Houston during Hurrican Ike and the days after, thank goodness there has not been another hurricane that has headed our way in these past four years. 

On the other hand, my blogs about Mitcham’s victory in the Beijing 2012 Olympics still bring readers to this site, showing that he’s still–if not even more–popular.   I still admire Matthew Mitcham, not only because he’s such an amazing athlete and role model, but also that in spite of his célébrité, he has been able to keep a good sense of himself and just be a normal early-20s guy.

Check the early posts (2008) for more about Hurricane Ike and Matthew Mitcham on this blog.  Also a good way to keep up with Matthew Mitcham is through Twitter (https://twitter.com/matthew_mitcham), where he posts lots of photos.