From Our Readers: Pride Fallout

Community members voice their opinions about moving the location and date of Houston Pride.


Thanks for your story [“Whither, Pride?” January] about the possible changes coming to our community’s GLBT Pride parade and festival.

AssistHers has been and will always be a strong supporter of Pride. While some of the changes sound like they could be advantageous for our community, too much change all at once is not always the answer.

Traditions are very heartwarming to me; they remind us of those special and unique times of our lives that we cannot relive. Traditions help maintain those times’ significance in our hearts and minds.

Also, nonprofit organizations have to count their pennies. We need to look at the true cost of making large changes to Pride festivities, and make sure participation is inexpensive for all nonprofits.

Sol Lara

Editor’s note: Lara is vice president of public relations for AssistHers. The lesbian in-home care group won a Judge’s Choice award for its contingent in the 2006 Pride Parade.

I realize that change and evolution is inevitable, necessary, and, for the most part, in the best interest of any organization.

I understand having the parade downtown is easier because of noise ordinances, etc. I understand it is hot in June and vendors would make more money on the move. Limiting the number of entries and combining similar types of organizations who do not have the financial leverage to create an eye-appealing display is prudent business.

Ask most young members of our community what Pride means to them, and they will tell you it is the best party in Houston. I would tend to agree with that. It is a great party. I wonder, is that your goal?

If it is, then move the event to September, move the location to downtown, and, most definitely, limit those parade entries that lack the aesthetic value that partygoers find so eye-appealing.

But I ask Pride Houston before it makes its final decision regarding these hotly debated topics: Are you being true to your mission statement?

Does Pride Houston bring “the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community together to celebrate individual pride, commemorate our community’s history, and educate society for the liberation of all people”?

Trust me when I say I am all about a great party. In the same breath I say that I am all about Pride, our history, what it really took for us to get here, and the incredible odds we overcame.

I was out in 1977, in high school. I lived in the days when the police would raid the clubs, and I fought the straight rednecks with baseball bats in parking lots because my male friend was feminine. I lived through the press and police department logging the license plates of “known homosexuals” and then arresting people for an outstanding parking ticket. I was there when AIDS was nothing but the “gay cancer,” God’s way of eliminating the homosexuals.

In those days, we rallied, and we rallied together. Lesbians, gay men, drag queens, dykes, the leather community, and bar owners banned together and fought back. This fight resulted in churches for gays and lesbians to worship in a safe place and a myriad of fundraising organizations devoted to raising money for persons affected by AIDS.

That is what I celebrate. I celebrate the obstacles we overcame, I celebrate the people who have passed that were integral in stabilizing the gay and lesbian foundation that allowed younger persons to build a new layer with each passing year.

So, as I stated before, if your goal is to have a bigger and better party, then proceed with your changes, and I wish you Godspeed.

However, if your goal is in line with your mission statement, then educate our youth about our history, keep the parade in June, and leave the location in the heart of Montrose.

Don’t forget our roots.

Melissa Flories

Editor’s note: Flories is a past president of Fort Worth’s Tarrant County Pride and a former grand marshal of its Pride parade.

I think it’s risky to move the parade and festival from Montrose, the neighborhood that’s been defined as the gay community, which is losing its identity on a daily basis with every $400,000 condo sale.

On the business side, of course, it is going to be bad, but we’re still going to do our numbers one way or the other. But is gay pride about partying or is it about remembering how GLBT people were able to get some rights and be treated like human beings?

As far as changing the date goes, we’re risking stripping our identity and going commercial on Stonewall–a very, very important date in history for people who are gay.

If it weren’t for Stonewall, everybody would still be in hiding. This is a major event in gay history, and people who are gay should know that, even if they don’t go to work wearing rainbow shirts.

But at least know what helped set you free. This is your f–king heritage.

Nick Vastakis

Editor’s note: Vastakis is the owner of the Chances nightclub complex.

The photographs of HIV/AIDS caregivers in our December issue (“The Helpers”) were taken at Bering & James art gallery.

We are updating the community resource guide section for our website. Please send information about your nonprofit, fundraising, or social organization to [email protected]. Provide a current contact name and information (include mailing address, e-mail address, and telephone number) along with a brief description of your group. The revised community resource guide will appear soon at www.outsmartmagazine.com.


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