“Pride Unleashed” at LGBT Parade 2013; Hundreds of Thousands* Celebrate in the Houston Heat

One of the colorful entries of Pride Parade 2013--the theme this year was "Pride Unleashed."

One of the colorful entries of Pride Parade 2013–the theme this year was “Pride Unleashed.”

Record heat hit Houston on Saturday, but that didn’t deter the largest crowds I’ve seen in almost 30 years of attending this city’s gay pride parade.

Last year, I passed on heading back into the city for a sixth commute of the week, only to fight the heat and the parking.  I just needed to get back this year to be part of the throngs of kindred spirits.

Putting on cool clothes and filling a small backpack with my camera and bottles of water, I set off out into the 107 degree heat.  After picking up a friend on the way, I headed down to the old Montrose neighborhood, where I had spent many of years in Houston, and site of the pride festivities.

I knew that the crowd would be large when I couldn’t find a parking place anywhere near my preferred area.  We finally found a space, got our gear together, and walked further than sensible people should walk in over-100-degree heat.

My perception was that the crowds were about the most diverse that anyone might find any place in Houston.  And while the attendees at the parade 2 years ago seemed about half gay-half straight, the ratio this year appeared much greater in the gay direction.  That might be because of positive decisions that just came out of the Supreme Court only a few days ago.

The parade got going even before the stated 8:15 start time and even finished before 10 but seemed to have as many entries and as much excitement as previous years.

The photos that follow give only a taste of the evening; the Houston Chronicle has a good page up that highlights a lot of days festivities.

*The Houston Chronicle reports that more than 400,000 attended this year’s event.  This is sure to be a Houston Pride Parade record.

The diversity among us--parage attendees applauded entries,, screamed for beads, and celebrated throughout the evening.        They have to be, though, some of the best behaved hundreds of thousands of people around.

The diversity among us–parage attendees applauded entries,, screamed for beads, and celebrated throughout the evening. They have to be, though, some of the best behaved hundreds of thousands of people around.

As the crowds of spectators await, HPD heads down Westheimer, leading of Pride Parade 2013.

As the crowds of spectators await, HPD heads down Westheimer, leading off Pride Parade 2013.

The pride of Houston's LGBT community--Mayor Annise Parker (left) and her partner, Kathy Hubbard.

The pride of Houston’s LGBT community–Mayor Annise Parker (left) and her partner, Kathy Hubbard.

PFLAG--one of the wonderful ally groups that have been supporting for years.

PFLAG–one of the wonderful ally groups that have been supporting for years.

Pride2013 Diana

Rolling down Westheimer.

Rolling down Westheimer.

Houston Fire Department "represents".

Houston Fire Department “represents”.

There was no lack of the rainbow colors.

There was no lack of the rainbow colors.

Just one of the many attractions to be found on parade evening.

Just one of the many attractions to be found on parade evening.

Totally representing the parade's theme of "Pride Unleashed."

Totally representing the parade’s theme of “Pride Unleashed.”

There was no shortage of commercial groups taking part in the parade.

There was no shortage of commercial groups taking part in the parade.

It’ll Be Hot in More Ways than One: Pride Houston 2013

pride-2013-fotoSaturday’s temps are to be near or at 100, but Houston’s Pride Celebration 2013 is sure to be even hotter!  The theme this year is “Pride Unleashed”.

The pride festival, with booths and entertainment, starts at 1 PM very near the corner of Montrose and Westheimer.

Parade goers might get a bit of a respite from the heat as Houston’s unique night time event begins at 8:15, heading down Westheimer from near Dunlavy Street.  With this past Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling knocking down DOMA and getting marriage equality back on track in California, it’s likely that the number of attendees will be even greater than the approximately 325,000 from previous years.

Look for much more about Houston Pride here.

Washington Governor Gregoire Signs Marriage Equality into Law

With Gov. Christine Gregoire's signature, marriage equality becomes law in the state of Washington.

On the eve of Valentine’s Day, February 13, 2012, Governor Christine Gregoire signed marriage equality into law in Washington state.  Both houses of the state legislature had voted in favor of same-sex marriage last week.

Washington becomes the seventh U.S. state to legalize gay marriage.  The others are New York, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.  Same-sex couples can also marry in the District of Columbia.  Legislatures in Maryland and New Jersey are also considering measures that would equalize the marriage playing field for same-sex couples.

Happy Gay (LGBT . . . and Q, if you must) Pride 2011! Houston, Today Is the Big Day

I just got finished doing the lawn.  After the almost 2 inches of rain this past week, the grass finally grew enough that I could mow it, only about the third time this year, because of all the dry weather.

Now I’m about to jump into the shower (pretty scummy and drenched after being out there puttering) and then head into town to check out the Pride Festival.  If you looking to go, it takes place near the corner of Westheimer and Montrose, starting at 1 PM and going ’til 7.

Everyone should be in a good mood, and I expect even more people will be out this year because of the big marriage equality victory in New York state last night.

The parade begins this evening at 8:15 PM, near the corner of Dunlavy and Westheimer and heads down Westheimer.  Parking is along the side streets, but expect to walk further, the later you arrive.

More information about all the events can be found here.

Incremental Equality, But More Than Just Being Legal; And–Rachel Maddow Interviews “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Victims

Some events are so staggering that they leave an indelible image in our minds of where we were and what we were doing when we first heard the news. I remember Kennedy’s death, the Challenger disaster, and 9/11 that way. It seems that it’s the disastrous events that stay embedded in our brains more than those more glorious.

I don’t remember how or where I was when I heard that the Supreme Court had ruled in the Lawrence v. Texas case in 2003.  I do remember, though, the elation I felt after the highest court in the land’s ruling–for once feeling that I, as a person, wasn’t somehow “against the law” for just being who I was.  I do remember the thud-to-my-gut sensation watching the election returns in 2005 when Texas–like so many Bush-Rove politicked states–voted to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage.  Legal? Yes.  Equal? No.

Therefore, it was with guarded optimism that I watched C-Span this past Saturday, knowing that it was perhaps one of those pivotal moments, with the U.S. Senate voting on the repeal of DADT.  When a cloture vote of 63-33 stopped McCain and his makeup-wearing, Republican cronies from any chance of filibustering, I became more hopeful. 

(Yes, makeup.  I’d be interested in knowing how many of these old southern geezers go to the beauty shop to get their makeup and hair done together so that they can dish with the stylists dolling them up for the cameras.  Are these the same people worrying about the military becoming feminized?)

Before I take too far of a turn here and screech my wheels, Rachel Maddow had a wonderful show with a full live audience yesterday reviewing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” in which she had a panel of former and current gay military members:  Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, Maj. Michael Almy, Cadet Katie Miller, and Capt. Jonathan Hopkins, who have played a big part in getting the effects of DADT made known, which ultimately helped to get this discriminatory policy overturned.

It’s compelling, so you might want to keep a Kleenex handy just in case.

On the Road Home: Aladin and Gays Cause the End of Humanity

I really know better than to go to the super market on Sunday afternoon.

If you’re intrigued by the title of this post, I’ve succeeded.  Not long ago, I decided to start a new series of posts called “On the Road Home.”  I had been having trouble writing posts, so I wanted to put down some of the thoughts of the days, especially during my evening commute.

I know today is Sunday; actually, I’m on vacation; therefore, maybe I’m stretching to make this work, but Sunday as it was, I had some errands to run and so I’m gathering here some of the pieces of the day.

I like eating at home (now that I have my own house), but I’ve decided I need to try some places in my new part of town.  A couple of months ago, a new place opened about a mile or so up the road.  It’s called Aladin, and the sign said, Mediterranean and Indo/Pak Buffet and Grill.  Today I had had no breakfast, so by noontime, I was ready for almost anything.  As I drove up the road, I decided to try the place out.  Just a couple of cars were in the parking lot, and when I got inside, I found that I was the only customer.

However, the place smelled good, and everything at the buffet tables looked appetizing.  Some of the Arabic foods, I knew, but I assume quite a few of the hot dishes are of the Indo/Pak cuisine.  I tried a bit of many things.  The salads, the hummus, and some kind of eggy squares were especially good.  The best, though, was the gyro, filled with tender, tasty meat, which they made and brought out, after I had already filled my plate.  If you’re in the Houston area out near 529 and Highway 6, try this place.  The food and the service are very good.

After I had eaten I decided to pick up some groceries.  I know if I go on a Sunday, I’m just a glutton for punishment.  The HEB I went to on Barker-Cypress was jam-packed.

Getting used to shopping out in the suburbs hasn’t been easy.  Everybody out here seems to have kids, and they have to bring them along when they go to the super market, which only adds to the traffic congestion in the store aisles.

One of the arguments that some of those against gay marriage is that if gay marriage is legalized, it will be the end of humanity.  They surely have to hold their own noses to their own “stinkin’ lyin'” when they say that.  As if gay people getting married would stop opposite-sex couples from having kids.

Gay marriage is already legal in a number of U.S. states, several European countries, South Africa, and now Argentina.  All I can say is that so far it hasn’t had any effect on all those people with kids at the HEB that I went to today.

Usually, when I’m waiting to check out, there is a family in front of me with at least one kid screaming, “I want this,” while pulling at the innumerable candy bars and other baubles on either side of the checkout aisle.

The little girl in front today had a bit more game.  Picking up a plastic package with a glittery brush inside, she looked at her mother, and coyly asked, “Would this work on my hair?’  Her mother barely shook her head without even looking at her.

Then the girl pointed at another item hanging from the many hooks, “Would this work to sharpen pencils?”  Her mother shook her head again.  At that moment, the girl looked back at me, and we both knew that she needed to try some new tactics, because obviously, Mom had already heard “Would this work?’ too many times, and that line definitely wasn’t going to work.

After crossing the scorching parking lot and packing away my groceries, I was glad to be inside the quiet of my car even if I did have to wait for the AC to start blasting out some cool air.

Argentina Does It! Now Marriage Equality at Both Ends of the Hemisphere as U.S. Held Hostage by Social Stick-in-the-Muds

I’m happy for what happened in Argentina in the wee hours this morning, when that country’s senate by a vote of 33-27 voted for gay marriage, and based on earlier passage by the house and the strong support by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the Senate vote was the final hurdle to be passed.

Wow! Argentina, you as a country have my respect.  It’s almost unreal, that now we have gained rights at both the southern end of the hemisphere (Argentina) and the northern end (Canada).

I’m sad too for my own country.  I used to think of the U.S. as the country of progress–in both the areas of invention and technology as well as culture and civil liberties.

But here we sit, a nation whose industrial and technological might brought an end to World Wars and put a man on the moon–here we sit, stagnant and controlled by our unfettered need for oil and all of the problems it has brought along with it, yes, and here we sit, stagnant and controlled by religious and political conservatives, who in reality want to take us back beyond the Disco 80s, the Love-in 60s, maybe even further back than the Eisenhower 50s.

These Tea Partiers, these Glenm Becks, these bible holders (yes, they really only want to hold them, for some sense of tactile security it brings them) spit out the word progress like its something dirty.  They don’t want a country that’s moving ahead in any way.  Whatever happened to being a country of forward thinkers?  The country that does it first?  The country that others want to emulate?  I really don’t believe that most Americans want to go backwards, but for whatever reason, too many in federal and local governments have given an ear to these stick-in-the-muds, who, if they had their “druthers”, would  take us back to the 1920s, when many in the country gave the same attention to another group: the Ku Klux Klan.  (Do your history homework.  The KKK didn’t just go after Blacks.  They were against unions, Jews, Catholics, and anybody else that didn’t think like they did.)

So, hurray! Argentina!  I have hope that one day soon, this country will put on its hip boots and wade through this languid river, kicking the muddy carp to the side, and follow you to the other side, then keep marching forward, only to glance back at the muck that kept trying to hold this great country back, in this world that does not stand still.

(Take a look at the celebration in the streets of Buenos Aires when the announcement of the vote was made.  Progress–it’s a good thing.)

Portugal Becomes 6th European Country To Approve Same-sex Marriage

Kissing in celebration in front of the Portuguese Parliament Building

Pope Benedict will probably have to go out and buy another pair of Prada shoes to console himself because today one more of the old Catholic strongholds, Portugal, gave the approval to same-sex marriage.

According to Lisbon’s Diario de Noticias and Madrid’s abc.es (I needed the back-up of Spanish to translate), the Portuguese Parliament voted to give the go ahead for legalizing gay marriage.  Portugal now joins its Iberian neighbor Spain,  where same-sex weddings have been legal since 2005.  Four other European countries allow gay marriage: Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

Said Prime Minister José Sócrates, “This is an historic moment for the Assembly of the Republic, and I am happy to have participated in it.”

It’s interesting to note that both Portugal and Spain were both governed by right-wing dictators well into the 1970s and a mere 30 some years later both have come this far in working to eliminate discrimination.

It’s 2:15 AM, But You Should Read This Book

Boswell book(Yes, it’s 2:15 AM, and luckily, tomorrow starts my vacation, and I will only have to wake up to take Annie out to do her business, and then I can crash again if I want. But someone posted a comment to one of my old posts, and responding to took enough time and effort that I decided to add a bit and use it as its own post.)

Beliefs. When it comes to beliefs, we have to make some distinctions.

If I put a pan of water on the stove, add some salt, turn on the burner, and wait until the water starts to boil at 212 degrees fahrenheit, I believe that if I dump the linguini into the water, it will be cooked a little more than al dente in about 8 minutes. On the other hand, maybe I’m cutting the grass, and I spy a four-leaf clover at the edge of the sidewalk, and say to myself, “Hey, I believe I’m in for a bit of good luck. Then, if some positive happens, I can attribute it to finding the four-leaf clover; however, if nothing significant takes place, I can just forget about it, and say, “Oh, well,” and wait until another “sign” like another four-leaf clover comes along.

That’s my take on beliefs, and if I haven’t drawn a clear enough picture for you, you’re not ready for Philosophy 101.

So that’s what applies in my comment below. (If my transition is weak, now it’s 2:30 AM.)

I always get tickled when religious people want to come back and say to me, “You’re angry.” Obviously, you haven’t read much else here on the blog.

You say you’ve made sacrifices. Most people in their lives have made sacrifices, but there is a difference between rights as a citizen of this country and whatever personal sacrifices people make to have the life they want. Just because some people have certain personal religious beliefs should not mean that others in this country should be prevented from having the same rights as everyone else. You as a married person have a whole slew of rights granted to you by the government besides the most obvious–marriage itself, but also the many spousal benefits that go along with it, not to mention being able to be open about who you are in the military, or even more simply to give blood.

When you start to add god into the picture, I say, “Whose god?” There are many denominations that have no problem accepting gay marriage and full equality across the board. We don’t have a theocratic government system in the U.S. Countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran have governmental laws based on Islam, and whatever side of the political fence you sit on in this country, I have heard few people advocating they would like a government like that in this country.

You say: “I don’t think gay people are less than others, I never said that, so I don’t know where you got that. I think that gay people choose to believe that God is okay with their choice and I believe that they are mistaken.”

I “get that” because you chose to comment to my post and indicate that you are against gay marriage. What is inherent in what you say is that you think your beliefs are the correct beliefs and based on those beliefs, gay people shouldn’t be allowed to get married in this country. You say “they are mistaken” and that indicates that they cannot have what you have–marriage–which indicates you do think gay people are less.

This is really no different than in theocratic countries where women are treated as “less”. Based on those laws, the wife has to walk behind the husband, cover her head and most of her body, and in some countries not be able to drive a car. Oh, but sure, he doesn’t think she’s “less” than he is, does he?

One thing that always gets me and every other gay person I know is that when people tell them being gay is a choice. I just don’t buy that you have any gay people whom you are really close to; otherwise, you just would not say or even think that.

Did you make a choice NOT to be gay? Chew on that a moment, and you have to realize that gay people don’t make a choice NOT to be straight. Are you left-handed or right-handed? Did you make a choice about that? Back in the good ol’ days, especially in parochial schools, left-handed kids got their hands whacked with a ruler or even had their left hands tied behind their backs to force them to use their right hands because being left-handed was thought to be wrong by some people. I guess in your way of thinking being left-handed wasn’t in god’s plan.

There’s no fork in the road of life where people choose to be left-handed or right-handed. Likewise, there’s no fork in the road where people choose to be gay, straight, or even something in the middle. Like being left-handed or right-handed, it just how we are wired.

The problem is that some religions and some people want to attach some kind of moral significance to that wiring.

Where there is a choice, however, is in what people choose to believe. As part of their beliefs, the Aztecs sacrificed other human beings; the people of Salem believed that some of the local women were witches and burned them to death; some people from Latin countries believe that if a pregnant woman looks at a full moon, the baby will have a mark on its face; some Hindus believe that cows are sacred; and the Pope of the medieval church believed that the earth was flat, and, thus, Galileo was a heretic and driven out of the church.

Through the ages, beliefs have changed. People learn, people grow, people use logic and knowledge. (Others, however, keep on with the same ol’ superstitions and fairy tales.)

But just what is it with christians and homosexuality anyway? The bible really doesn’t say that much about it, and the lines there are come from way back in the part where there are all sorts of weird old Jewish rules, like not letting dwarfs or invalids anywhere near the altar and not touching the skin of a pig. There’s a bunch of stuff like that back in Leviticus, but nobody, even those people who say they take every word of the bible literally adhere to any of that, but somehow they pull out homosexuality as being just about the worst thing anybody could be.

Never mind that it’s not on the top ten list of biblical no-no’s. I mean shouldn’t adultery be written into U.S. law? I’m pretty sure it’s there on that big ol’ tablet that Moses came down the mountain with. But I didn’t see any christians advocating for any laws against adultery when Governor Sanford was/is having his fling with his Argentine “soul mate” or after Senator Vitter got caught cheating on his wife with prostitutes. Why aren’t all the christians up in arms about that? (Remember that ol’ song “Things That Make You Go Hmmm”?)

Why did the Aztecs believe they should sacrifice other humans? Why did the people of Salem believe some of the local women were witches and burn them to death? Why did people believe the world was flat?

(But based on your thinking, not those sacrificed by the Aztecs, the women put to death in Salem, nor even Galileo were “less”, because, of course, the Aztecs, the people of Salem, and the medieval church were all just following the laws based on their beliefs.)

And I think this should be a question for you. WHY do you believe what you believe. (I heard that ol’ Sunday School song “Cuz the Bible Tells Me So” many times, but that just doesn’t cook the linguini any more than the four-leaf clover cooks it.)

In the end, you can believe whatever you believe. If you want to believe a rock is a hairbrush, you can believe that, especially if some church elder has convinced you that a rock is a hairbrush. And would you dare question that with a “Why?”.

In the same way that some parents’ religious beliefs should not prevent their child with cancer from being treated, your own and others’ religious beliefs should not prevent gay people from marrying the person whom they love.

Finally, you need to read this book: “Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality” by John Boswell.

And What Will the Conservative Republicans Say Now about Sancti-MOAN-ious Sanford’s Revelations and the Sanctity of Marriage? Come’on Now, We’re All Waiting with Bated Breath

Mr. A-List (that’s A for Adultery), Republican Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina was forthcoming with even more revelations about his relationship with Maria Belen Chapur, the Argentinian woman with whom he has been having an affair. It seems, though, that his current mistress is not the only woman he has been involved with during his marriage to his wife, Jenny. “Oh, what a tangled web . . .” If you’re into the details the South Carolinian newspaper, The State has the most.

Actually, I’m not that interested in what Sanford or other straight people do in bed; it’s just that when so many of them give out this “holier than thou” attitude, laying it on thick about the sanctity of marriage and how gay marriage and homosexuality are just about the worst thing that anyone could be part of, you want to sit there and say, “Hey, Sluggo, maybe you might want to re-think your position on love and who can love whom, and maybe your love isn’t really any different than anybody else’s love.” (Wow, that was a long sentence; I got to take a breath myself.)

Anyway, ya gotta dig these cartoons:

First Church of GOPDevout Christian