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.

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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.

Houston Gay Pride Parade–Version 2011

Houston Gay Pride Parade 2011 is off and running!Jonathan Lovitz, from LogoTV's "Set Up Squad" was one of this year's honorary grand marshals.

The 2011version of the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration (commonly known as the Houston Gay Pride Parade) was attended by a large crowd.  (I’ll be interested in what the official count will be.) The parade was lead off by the traditional HPD cruiser and contingent, followed directly by Houston’s own gay mayor, Annise Parker, with her partner, Kathy Hubbard at her side.

The crowd gathering before the start of the parade, here in front of Tomo's.

A broad mix of people came to view the Pride Parade. A few of them entertaining themselves before the start.

The unexpected is always expected at the parade.

Jonathat Lovitz, of LogoTV's "Setup Squad", one of the honorary grand marshals.

There was no lack of other politicians riding in the parade, including many of the current city council, and council wannabees, as well as state representatives and congresspeople.  There were a large number of groups representing a wide variety of gay interests, many who have participated year after year.  However, every year there are new participants.

Many things have changed about the parade have changed over the years.  For one there is a lot less police “presence” along the parade route.  Maybe that’s due to having a gay mayor.  There are perhaps more straight people than gay people that attend these days.  Sometimes, I wonder if they are really interested in the groups, or just want to get the beads that are thrown.  I saw more drinking than I have seen before, as illustrated by a 50-something woman, who eased in next to me, and screamed at every float or group.  Her name was Julie.  Yes, that’s what she screamed, “Hey, it’s me Julie.”  I hope she enjoys all her loot.   Yes, the Gay Pride Parade has changed.

The colorful float of Bunnies on the Bayou.

Gay Asians & Friends--this group is uniquely costumed year after year.

The Texas Gay Rodeo Association's entry.

M.D. Anderson Cancer Center's entry illustrates the parade theme "Live, Love, Be."

A perennial favorite, the boys of South Beach.

One of the many colorful contingents in the parade–this one is Jenni’s Noodle House.

See story and photos of 2010 Pride Parade here.

 

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 Gay Pride Parade 2010

Mayor Annise Parker and partner Kathy Hubbard (facing camera) head up the Houston Pride Parade 2010

Give credit to the full moon if you want, but more likely it was not only great planning, but also the fact that Houston in the past year elected one of its own gay citizens as mayor, that made 2010’s Gay Pride Parade one of the most lively and quite well attended by a very diverse group of spectators and participants.  (From my own point of view, this parade was the best one since I began attending in the early 80s.)

Mayor Annise Parker, who was one of the honorary parade marshalls, and her partner Kathy Hubbard rode in one of the lead convertibles, and having a gay mayor seems to have positively affected many aspects of the parade.  There were many more elected officials in the parade than ever before.  And while, yes, it is an election year, I got the feeling that many of them were there because, now with a gay mayor, it’s “OK” to take part in the parade, and they also see the value of gay voters.

Tomo boys selling beer give some pre-parade interest

The parade entries represented a much broader spectrum than I’ve ever seen, from the traditional motorcycle and leather groups to businesses including a funeral home disco bus to a wide range of religious groups including Buddhists and (I think) pagans.

Starting at 8:45 PM, the generally smooth-moving parade ran just at about 2 hours, with very few people leaving early at has been the case in some years when the parade lost momentum because of long breaks between entries.  Many more floats and vehicles had pulsing music blasting out to the onlookers, of gay, straight, young,

Early spectators finding a spot to enjoy the pre-parade atmosphere in front of Bambolino's Pizza

old, sober, drunk and many other types, who were happily moving to the beat and catching tossed beads.  However, unlike last year, the atmosphere this year was one of festivity and communal enjoyment among among parade participants and spectators alike, rather than just a mad scramble to get the “loot’ tossed from the floats, as was my take on last year’s event.

Putting the final barriers in place before the parade

The metal barriers put along the streetsides were a better deterrent for keeping people from running out among the floats and other parade vehicles for dropped trinkets.  The parade volunteers did a good job of tossing misdirected beads out to viewers, and the police seemed to stay on task of keeping everything safe without

I'm not exactly sure what was happening, but I turned around and encountered this scene.

interacting a lot with parade goers.  This year there were no police on horseback out patrolling the street, after last year’s accident in which a woman watching the parade was trampled by a police horse.  Though one of the surprises of the evening was when I turned around and seven or eight of them were lined up behind me  on the corner of California and Westheimer.

Taquerias Arandas' mascot gettin' down to the beats from the Fuse float

One of the great things about the parade this year was seeing the broad mix of people both viewing and participating in the parade.  This diversity, somewhat due to the popularity of Mayor Parker, shows that more and more Houstonians see gay people and gay events as part of the entire Houston community, not “apart from” as has been the case in the past.

Houston Fire Department ladder truck, topped with reveling firefighters

(Though I have to admit, the photos I’m posting may not be as diverse as the event itself.  My blog–I’ll post what I like. I’ll upload more later.  Come back.)

The parade has changed and gotten larger, but one of the charms is that the floats and placards are, for the most part, created by the organizations themselves, not commercially made.  This “realness” adds even more connection between parade participants and spectators and makes for an even more festive atmosphere.  (“Festive”–that’s a gay word, ya know.)

KRBE and other stations brought the beat to the street

Link for post and photos of Houston Pride Festival (daytime)

Budweiser Beer Boys

Bead Vendor and Queer & Asian Houston (What more do I need to say?)

Bicycle Patrolman and Gay Asians and Friends (Houston--the city big enough for Gay Asians and Queer Asians (Now how much more diversity could one want?) But guys, you're really going to have to work hard to beat the Hello Kitties from last year.

Previous mayor of Houston and now gubernatorial candidate, Bill White, strides down the parade route, as he had done when he was Houston's highest official.

Always a place in the parade for some Pacific Street muscle--some of the crew from the Charles Armstrong Enterprises float (JR's, Montrose Mining Co, Meteor. and South Beach)

Stonewall Democrats prefer ass to elephant--(gotta love that)

Some "cueros" carrying the banner for Crystal Night Club

Out Houston City Council member, Sue Lovell

One of the best dancin' groups of the night--Gay Buddhists--I think, but not sure--my bad.

Where else but Montrose? Where else but the Gay Pride Parade?

Bubbling up with Bunnies on the Bayou and M2M Fashions

Part of the large Continental Airlines contingent

The full moon presides as the parade proceeds down Westheimer

   See story and photos of 2011 Pride Parade here.

Houston (Gay) Pride Festival 2010

Houston Gay Men's Chorus performing at the (Gay) Pride Festival 2010

Trekked into town around 1 PM to check out Houston (Gay–the word they don’t seem to want to put in the name) Pride Festival 2010.  I was surprised at how many people were already setting up lawn chairs and sun shades along Westheimer, apparently claimstaking their spots for the parade, which is to start at 8 PM this evening.

Pride Festival in the heart of Montrose

The number of booths appeared somewhat larger than last year, but the heat radiating from the asphalt from the burning Houston sun bore down just as fiercely as last year. It’s good to take a gander at the organizational booths, other community exhibits, and vendors, but under the noontime

Crowd venturing inside out of the sun to see the History and Art Exhibit

sun, about a half an hour is all that I’ll stand; this year proved a bit different because the entertainment on the stage was quite good.  One way to beat the heat was to get inside at the History and Art Exhibit.  In addition, special thanks definitely have to go out to Walgreen’s, who had people stationed around the festival handing out green bags with an icy bottle of water inside, not to mention a 15% coupon.  This is just my comment and not any kind of advertisement, but Walgreen’s and “Disco” Kroger have long been part of what makes Montrose unique.

Houston Pride Idol Winner Brittni Jackson

The Houston Gay Men’s Chorus did a couple of highly entertaining numbers, followed by contestants from Pride’s Gay Idol, the winner of which, Brittni Jackson, has a voice which could compete with most on TV’s American Idol.

The festival goers seemed in a celebratory mood, but when I looked

Radio host, Special K, (probably most well-known out Houstonian, second only to Mayor Parker) MCing part of the state events

Attendees groovin' to the stage entertainment

around at the people there in the heart of Montrose, a wave of nostalgia came over me of the long-since gone Westheimer Street Festival.

Today’s Houston Chronicle says the predictions for this evening’s parade might go as high as 250,000 attendees, partly owing to Houston having  Annise Parker, the recently elected, openly gay mayor.  Thinking about how early I might have to go back into town to find parking and the thunder booming outside,  I’ll have to make a decision, but the few times that I haven’t gone, I felt like I was missing something.

But hell, I bought a new shirt to wear.  Yep, I’m still gay.

(Check out post about Houston Gay Pride Parade here.)