by Megan Smith
The Houston LGBT Pride Celebration will be moved to downtown in 2015, Pride Houston, Inc. president and CEO Frankie Quijano announced Wednesday at City Hall.
The celebration has been held along Westheimer near the Montrose neighborhood—an area regarded as the heart of Houston’s LGBT community—for the past 36 years.
Over the past decade, however, Pride has seen exponential growth, with attendance numbers reaching over 425,000. This growth brings new challenges in regards to expansion, safety, and attendee satisfaction, Quijano said.
“A downtown location is better suited to the safety needs of the growing Pride parade and festival,” Quijano said. “The experience of the attendees and volunteers will be improved by less crowded sidewalks, roads, and parking opportunities.”
Pride Houston formed a special Community Task Force comprised of volunteers from consulting firms to help the organization make a decision regarding the location change. After reviewing the volunteers’ analysis, the Pride Houston board of directors passed the motion to move the celebration downtown with a 7–1 vote at their September meeting.
The move will also allow for an additional cultural stage at the celebration’s festival and a larger family zone, Quijano said. “The cultural stage will provide visibility for numerous organizations that may have had trouble gaining visibility in the past,” he said. “The larger, more accessible family area will allow for additional interactive activities to better engage families who want to be involved in the Pride experience.
“The Pride movement is about its people, not its location,” Quijano added. “This is a move that will ensure that we can better fit the needs of those in attendance. The original purpose of Pride in the 1960s was to break down barriers and show the broader community that the LGBT people refuse to be ignored. The move downtown will help break additional barriers of inclusion and integration. This move will allow us to better showcase the evolution of the LGBT community to all of Houston.”
Pride Houston, Inc. will host a community forum for all press and local community members to ask questions about the organization’s decision to move the celebration on Saturday, October 4 at 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. at The Montrose Center (401 Branard St.).
The 37th annual Houston LGBT Pride Celebration will be held Saturday, June 20, 2015.