Sunday June 12th 2016 the single largest terrorist attack since September 11, 2001 occurred in an Orlando nightclub, Pulse, enacted by a single hate-mongering gunman killing 49 and injuring 53 more, a specific attack on the LGBTQ community in Florida as well as the rest of the world. I will ask that readers unaware of this massacre inform and educate themselves elsewhere as I will not speak [type] the gunman’s name, engage in political argument about guns or LGBTQ people. A message was attempted by this heinous act and I, like so many in Orlando and all over the world will not and do not receive it: LOVE and light as so many cities all around, including Houston gear up– physically, mentally, emotionally– to host and celebrate uniqueness, individuality, sexuality, queerness and expression during the month of PRIDE.
Houston City Hall Photo Courtesy of Houston Culture Map

June is Pride Month recognizing those who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) and honoring those lost to the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan, New York City signifying the beginning of America’s LGBT Civil Rights movement.

The city of Houston has a very special connection to this time of year as former Mayor Annise Parker was the only openly lesbian politician to serve in the role for a major metropolitan city in the United States. This is the 38th annual Houston PRIDE festival.

 

“City Hall in Downtown was where the event that is widely know as Houston’s own ‘Stonewall’ occurred in 1977, as thousands protested against Anita Bryant.”

 

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The last year has been very rough on our local LGBTQ neighbors and friends as HERO was struck down, “bathroom laws” contiune to be an unecessary topic of discussion (people just need to pee!), PRIDE Houston was moved out of the LGBTQ neighborhood of Montrose into Downtown Houston’s City Hall and Tranquility and Herman Park last year and still drawing hotly contested, on-going criticism from the public (myself included) and now the tragedy in Orlando, signifying a bigger problem(s) with our entire country. Nonetheless, there is still plenty of LIFE to celebrate the rest of the month and the week of June 19th – 25th when the bulk of the events, including the parade will take place. Resilience and strength is what the LGBTQ community is built upon.

This year’s Grand Marshalls were voted:

Female Grand Marshall: Fran Watson
Male Grand Marshall: Brad Odom
Aly Marshall: Dena Gray

Official Performers of 2016 PRIDE Houston include, RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7 finalist Pearl, Dallas favorite Ishi, one of my favorite Houston bands Wrestlers, and “friend of the Hive” the stunning and talented Lyric Michelle!

The parade Starts at 8:30 PM and ends at 11:00 PM. This is a free event, open to the public, no age limit. The parade begins at Lamar Street and goes up/north on Smith Street until Walker Street where it will make a Right until Milam Street then make a left and continue until Jefferson Street.

The huge hit that is PRIDE Superstar Finale will take place at Meteor, the official PRIDE after party is hosted at South Beach and Hot Tea will bring back an old, notorious Houston favorite in Rich’s nightclub.

For a full listing of all official and sponsored events, including maps, FAQs, street closures and more visit Houston Pride’s Facebook pages or Pride Houston.

Please be aware since Orlando, threats for attacks on PRIDE events all over America, including Houston, have occurred.

Houston Police Department is taking active precautions in the wake of the events and investigating the online social media accounts accused of posting threats as well as running drills with swat and militia Downtown before the week ahead.

Here are my go-to tips for attending the Pride festival and parade– or any festival, parade, event for that matter:

1. If you plan on attending the parade, please respect the regulations of what to bring and leave at home– especially since this is the first year for the change of location for the festivities, check the website’s FAQ’s before you attend.
2. It will be scorching hot— so stay hydrated!
3. Bring a light bag to collect all the free swag and beads thrown to bordering crowds.
4. Wear comfortable shoes– who knows how far from the festivities you may need to park.
5. Leave your cards at home and bring cash for food, drinks and dranks– it’s just easier. ATMs are available on the festival grounds.
6. Wear your loudest, brightest colors! I promise you won’t be alone– you’re bound to see some crazy and creative costumes and outfits. Be aware of public decency/ nudity laws for Downtown.
7. Familiarize yourself with open container laws for the area.
8. Don’t forget tissues and hand sanitizer for later in the day/night when port-a-potties are lacking the essentials.
9. Most importantly PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL OF ALL ATTENDEES! This is ultimately a peaceful celebration of fellow Houstonians and more who deserve to exist freely! NO JUDGEMENTS ALLOWED!
10. Talk to people, here issues and opinions, be civil and respectful; just LISTEN.

“Y’all” means ALL.

 

For information about Houston Pride Week and the official Pride celebration parade visit https://www.pridehouston.org/

All images courtesy of PRIDE Houston