Despite the sun having gone down behind the tree line, releasing us of it’s piercing burn, sweat still poured down everyone’s backs. We stood with thousands of people lining the main drag of Houston’s “gayborhood”, Montrose, trying not to rub shoulders for fear of melting into one another. The sun had softened the asphalt under our feet, and the blaring techno music mustered strength from the sun and alcohol soaked crowds and got them dancing in the streets. This, in all it’s hot and humid glory, is Houston’s Gay Pride Festival and Parade.
For those that have never been, Gay Pride is a massive, public celebration. Once a year, depending on where you live, you can gather on the last weekend of June and be a part of a city-wide party celebrating the thing that most likely separates you from society for the rest of the year. It’s the one time a year that we can step out and be a part of the majority, and that feeling alone is worth suffering through the heat.
Our very own mayor, Annise Parker, who just so happens to be gay herself, was the grand marshal at this year’s Pride Parade, and led the way for hundreds of floats all showing their support for us. We’ve been to several Pride Festivals, in several states, and while the Drag King and Queens and music may be different, there is one common undercurrent to all Prides, and that is community support. While this is most definitely a place to come and be proud of you and all your fabulousness, what strikes me the most is not the gay community, but the (for lack of a better term) hetero community. Just about every other booth at the Houston Pride Festival was a church organization reaching out to passers by, telling them they are welcome and valued at their place of worship. That is touching, considering all of the anti-gay discrimination hurled at the LGBT community in the name of religion, but it’s always PFLAG that brings a tear to my eye. PFLAG, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbian and Gays, always get the loudest cheers. Always. Moms, Dads, Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, siblings, all marching through the streets with posters declaring love and support for their gay family member or friend. It’s really very touching, considering those are the people who got us to where we are today. We know that not everyone is as lucky as we are to have such a supportive family, which makes us appreciate them all the more.
This once-a-year shindig is not just a time to come out and celebrate who you are, but more importantly (at least for us) it’s a time to come out and be celebrated by your neighbors, politicians, grocers, friends, churches, etc. etc. And, despite the horrific heat, we left feeling loved and supported by Houston, and for that we are grateful.
Houston City Hall: