by Barrett White
Celebrating Pride this year is the city of Beaumont, Texas, for the very first time. “Everyone involved is excited that this is finally going to happen,” Shawn Hare, Beaumont’s Pride committee co-chair, says.
In a long-awaited social victory, Beaumont holds its first Pride parade beginning at 11 a.m. on June 21, starting at the corner of Broadway and MLK, walking the downtown streets and ending at Orleans and Forsythe streets. The 600 block of Orleans hosts a family-friendly Pride festival, while several smaller Pride events are hosted at other venues. All Beaumont Pride events are free to the public.
The Beaumont Pride Festival also features a full line-up of bands at Orleans Pavilion, including Beaumont’s own The Ron Jeremies three-piece band, plus Mad Maude & the Hatters.
“As soon as word got out that we were planning Pride, musicians, entertainers, and organizations contacted us to volunteer their time and talents,” Hare says. “At the same time, local business owners jumped to offer their facilities and services for free.”
The committee is also working with Suga’s Deep South Cuisine and Jazz Bar, The Gig, The Art Studio, The Market on Orleans, Orleans Pub and Patio, and others to fill the day with entertainment. “It has been a thrilling experience to see southeast Texas coming together to support this community effort,” Hare says.
The idea for Pride was initially raised at the first meeting of the Southeast Texas CommunityCoalition, a group of individuals and nonprofits working for the development of the local LGBT community.
“The coalition recognized that Pride is necessary in order to build this community from within,” Hare says. “Everyone enjoys events like Pride; this will highlight the relationships that already exist in the community and possibly help us to forge new ones. We’ve accomplished a lot so far, but there is still work to be done.”