Happy LGBT Pride 2012, Houston!

Although various gay pride events have been going on most of the month, today, Saturday, June 23rd is the big day.

The Pride Festival takes place from 1-7 PM on Lovett and Waugh.  If those streets are unfamiliar, if you go to Westheimer and Montrose, you can’t miss finding all the booths and other entertainment.

The one-of-a-kind night parade begins at 8:15 PM starting near Woodhead and heads down Westheimer into the heart of Montrose.  The parade is always amazing, but parking can be a nightmare, so go early and beware of no-parking zones, where cars are certain to be towed.

Catch more about Houston Pride 2012 here.

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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.

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

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

Happy Gay Pride, Houston!

Taking in the sights in the heat of the day at Houston's Pride Festival

Taking in the sights in the heat of the day at Houston's Pride Festival

Pride Fesival just beginning near the corner of Waugh and Westheimer

Pride Fesival just beginning near the corner of Waugh and Westheimer

Impact Houston members holding down the fort at the group's booth

Impact Houston members holding down the fort at the group's booth

More of the festival on the Lovett Esplanade

More of the festival on the Lovett Esplanade

Just after noontime, I went down to the Pride Festival . The start time was 11 AM. There were lots of booths of all types, lots of gay organizations for every interest and various vendors. All I can say is “Hot, hot, hot.” And I am talking about the temperature. The car thermometer said 98 when I left home, and out there on the radiating pavement, it had to have been much higher. Some groups were passing out hand fans. Though, I’m not sure what effect they were having. Despite the heat, the number of people increased during my short 20 minutes there. I talked to some great people at the Impact Houston booth, and then as I was leaving a street evangelist tried to make some headway with me. Ha! No luck there. I can’t imagine how people are standing it now in the hottest part of the afternoon. I’m planning to go back for the parade tonight. It starts at 8:45 PM; here’s hoping there will be some relief from the heat by then.

prideFestival_logo 2009The Pride Festival runs until 7 PM in Montrose, just south of Westheimer near Commonwealth. Admission is free for all kinds of entertainment, including music and exhibits.

The unique night parade begins at 8:45 running down Westheimer from Dunlavy to Crocker.

For details about these and other Houston Pride events, check www.pridehouston.org/events/ .

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