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.

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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.

Houston’s 2011 Gay Pride Festival and Parade in Just Two Weeks; Other Events Taking Place Throughout June

From the increased number of clicks onto my previous posts about Houston Gay Pride 2009 and 2010, people are once again trying to get information about this year’s events.  Living for such a long time right in the middle of Montrose, there were some years that I just skipped it all.  Now that I’ve moved out to the “burbs,” going “into town” for the festival and parade helps me feel part of the whole Montrose scene, something I don’t miss on a daily basis.  Just two weeks from today, I’ll be there with my camera, ready to be part and take part!

This year’s theme is “Live. Love. Be.”  A few of the “pre” events have already taken place; others are ongoing.  The major draws for the entire month are the festival and the parade, both of which will be held in just two weeks, on Saturday, June 25th.  The festival begins at noon in the heart of Montrose, near the corner of Montrose and Westheimer.  The parade, one of the very few such nighttime events, starts at 8:15 PM.  The parade goes down Westheimer, beginning near Woodhead.

For all the details on the Houston Gay Pride events, hit this link: http://pridehouston.org/celebration/pages/theday

Gay Pride Houston 2010

(Update: check out posts and photos of the 2010 parade here and the festival here.)

It’s that time of year again, and I can tell by clicks on posts I made about Houston Gay Pride 2009 that people are trying to find information about the 2010 events.  I don’t know why “gay” isn’t in the URL, but to find out about all that’s connected with Houston Gay Pride 2010, go to www.pridehouston.org/index.php/events.

Now that it’s June, many events are starting to happen, but the biggie will be Houston’s Gay Pride Parade on Saturday, June 26th.  The nighttime event starts at 8 PM, going down Westheimer, starting at Dunlavy and ending at Crocker, which is just a couple blocks beyond Montrose.  The theme this year is “Pride Not Prejudice”.   The Pride Festival is the same day, starting at 1 PM, right in the heart of Montrose.

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

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