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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“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.

Houston Pride Festival 2011 Attracts Large Crowd Despite the Heat

Gay flag is waving under the hot Houston sun at the Westheimer entrance to the festival.

Sunscreen applied, I drove in to Houston’s Montrose area around 1:30 PM.  I felt the sun blasting down on me as I dashed from one shaded spot to another one the few blocks to the main festival area, just off of Montrose and Westheimer.

The number of vendors and organizational booths increases every year.

It’s getting to be a better festival each year.  There definitely was more of everything this year that last: more people, more booths, and, especially more heat.  It was so hot out on the pavement that it was difficult just to stand anywhere for a short while.  Thankfully, there were vendors and other booths passing out glasses of ice and other refreshments.

Pride Festival attendees take refuge from the heat under live oak trees along Lovett Boulevard.

The crowd appeared quite a bit larger than last year, maybe because it started one hour later.  I realize upon looking at the photos that I took that they don’t represent the large crowd that was in attendance.  After taking a good look at everything and listening a bit to a local Houston rock band (Osirus), the heat took its toll on me and I was ready for the AC of the car.

Local rock band Osirus performs on the festival's main stage.

 Check out 2011 Pride Parade post and pics here.

A LGBT Pride Month Story: And A Couple of T-Shirts That Were Saved from the Dumpster

This T-shirt from 1979 came from one of the dances put on by Gay Services of Kansas, at the University of Kansas.

Another hot Sunday is already upon us, and later on, when the driveway gets a bit shaded, I’ll tend to one of the planned weekend chores–washing the car.

The last time I was ready to do the same task, I pulled out a basket of car-cleaning supplies, which I had dumped under the work shelves in the garage when I was moving into my house, a year and a half ago.  In the basket, I discovered three old T-shirts, which I had saved for many

T-shirt from The Hide & Seek Complex in Colorado Springs, Colorado--a souvenir from New Year's Eve 1979.

years for sentimental reasons in the bottom of a chest of drawers.  But like many items whose value changes when a person is making a move, these once nostalgia-filled keepsakes were turned into rags.

The funny thing is that afternoon, I did wash the car with them, even the grimy wheels.  But as I finished my task, and the car was looking all slick again, I decided that these shirts still meant something to me; I wasn’t ready to toss them all wet into the trash dumpster.

One of them–a bright red one–is a souvenir from a trip in 2000 to Chile.  It’s from the Capel Pisco Distillery in the Elquí Valley.  You haven’t lived if you’ve never had a Pisco Sour!

The other two–one black, the other, now a dingy white–are much older.  Unfortunately, the sleeves are cut off and long slits run down the sides, which was part of the look in the early 80s to go with the two pairs of parachute pants that I had.  With a red pair and a black pair teamed up with the slitted shirts, I had four different options to choose from to go out clubbing!

Actually, I had gotten the T-shirts when I still lived in Kansas, so it was probably about three years before I dismembered the sleeves here in Houston.

I got both of the shirts when I was a grad student at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.  (Read more about that here.)  One of them is from one of the dances that the KU gay group used to have in the Student Union.  A bunch of us from K-State would pack ourselves into cars and make the 90-minute drive (more if there were pit stops) from Manhattan to Lawrence.  Though there was a lot of KU-K-State rivalry on the football field and basketball court, the boys and girls didn’t have any time for that on the dance floor!  This shirt came from the 1st Annual Summer Fling, put on by the KU group, Gay Services of Kansas, in 1979.  The KU-Lawrence LGBT community has done a good job of chronicling its history, part of which can be found here, where I verified that my shirt was from 1979.

The other T-shirt is a memento from a road trip I took with a K-State friend to Colorado Springs over the holidays of that same year.  We spent New Year’s Eve at a place called The Hide & Seek Complex, which was the biggest club I had been to up to then.  I don’t remember so much about the physical features of the disco, but I do remember the fantastic pyrotechnic show that shimmered down from the top of Pikes Peak, which we viewed from the patio of the club.  (The Hide & Seek Complex lasted for many years.  From what I can see, it must have closed about eight years ago.)

I also remember meeting many military guys from Fort Carson and a couple from the Air Force Academy itself that New Year’s Eve at that club in Colorado Springs.  Even though it was just a few short years since I had been in the Air Force myself,  I remember thinking, “Oh, if I only knew then, what I know now.” 

Actually, I had a much better situation for coming out, surrounded by college friends, who were basically doing the same thing.  We could, for the most part, enjoy the process with a lot of support from each other, not a situation I could have had in the military.

I guess that’s why I can’t use these T-shirts for car washing; the significance that they have is just too much.  And rather than shove them back in a drawer, I have a room with a lot of my keepsakes on the walls.  Put in frames, they’d go perfect there.