By Christina Canales Gorczynski
In 2014, I had the great honor of serving as Female Grand Marshal for Houston’s LGBT Pride Celebration. And on that hot summer night in June, my friends, comrades, and I joyfully made our way down the now-historic Houston Pride Parade route. Fresh from our victory on May 28, I was joined by over 40 activists who wrote emails, called council members, and testified in favor of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. We’d won, and now we were celebrating.
While making our way down Westheimer, the crowd surged and swelled, pushing each other against the fences to get closer to the action. That night—in a moment of precise clarity—I made a striking observation: our LGBT community is as rich and diverse as the beloved Houston we call home.
In Montrose that night, I saw every color of the rainbow—and I am not talking the ROY G. BIV that makes up our flag. I’m talking black, brown, Asian, white, parents, allies, young people, couples who have been together for 40 years with signs that said so, gender nonconforming and transgender friends, Muslim, Sikh, people wearing crosses and people wearing stars of David, families with children, and Houstonians from across the socioeconomic spectrum. And then it hit me—the crowd looked like Houston. My Houston, Our Houston. The city with no limits.
From the Grand Marshal float, I saw the gorgeous diversity within our very own lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community and the beautiful diversity of our Houston. The Houston in which all people deserve to be treated fairly and equally. The Houston to which my immigrant grandparents came from Mexico, experienced freedom, and started small businesses to have the opportunity to provide for my mom and Uncle Al. The Houston that my dad settled in after he graduated from Rice University because this city—our city—embraced newcomers and encouraged the civic engagement of young people. And yes, the city of my queen, Beyoncé Knowles.
Through the noise of the crowd and sprinkles of glitter, I smiled, waved, and withdrew deep in my own head. During this magical moment with Beyoncé blaring from the speakers, I wondered to myself: What kind of laws and representation would we have if all these people showed up to vote like they show up for Pride? Earlier this week, everything came together with a blog I read by my friend Carlos.
Soon after the blog post, a student from the lower Rio Grande Valley who was following our fight here in Houston started the hashtag #BeyBeAHERO. Right after that, my wife, Ali, got on Twitter and started organizing young people from across the state of Texas. One of her students created an iconic image of Beyoncé with a #HERO logo. And then something remarkable happened: Mainstream media noticed.
What we hope now is that Beyoncé will notice. I sure hope so, because she might be the only one who can encourage all of you who show up at Pride to show up at the polls to vote this November. Maybe Beyoncé will Tweet us or post an Instagram pic. Maybe she’ll write a Facebook status or blog on her Tumblr. Or maybe, just maybe, you will all just go vote because you know your rights are on the line.
The fact that in 2015 we are even voting on the basic human rights of veterans, African-Americans, Latinos, pregnant women, and yes, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people is shocking and appalling to most Houstonians. It hurts everyone that the dignity of our neighbors, friends, coworkers, and fellow congregants are up for debate. I get that. But here’s what I know as a lifelong Houstonian.
As a city, we are not perfect, honey. But, Houston, we are ***Flawless. We don’t always live up to our promise of being a city of freedom and opportunity for all people, but our strength is in our ability to grow and change gracefully and for the better. We might not even need Bey to be our hero. Maybe we can save ourselves.
In fact, I challenge you: This time, let’s be each other’s heroes and show up to vote in November to save our HERO.
Christina Canales Gorczynski is a native Houstonian, statewide director of Texas Wins, and passionate Beyoncé fan.