Pride Houston 365 Reveals Plans for Its Upcoming Celebration
Co-presidents Thasia Madison and Kendra Walker preview the 2022 festival and parade.
“There are so many amazing Pride Houston memories,” says Pride Houston 365 co-president Thasia Madison, “but if I can only name one, it would be the 2022 Rockets Pride Night when we unveiled our new logo. In the spirit of the butterfly, we transformed our brand in front of a diverse group of fans. When the crowd went wild, it truly made me feel so lucky to live in Houston and celebrate with our volunteers, supporters, and sponsors.”
Recently rebranded as Pride Houston 365, the 44-year-old organization responsible for Houston’s annual Pride parade and festival has expanded their mission to include community-outreach events and social activism 365 days a year.
Several administrative changes have also been implemented this year. “We have internal controls and an Advisory Committee now,” says Madison. “The Advisory Committee not only advises, but it audits our messaging and brand, sponsors, etc. Essentially, the Advisory Committee is the community’s watchdog to ensure the Board of Directors is acting in the best interests of the community we serve.”
Another change is that the organization now has co-presidents—the top board positions currently held by Madison and Kendra Walker. “This is to provide checks and balances, as well as split the tasks needed to restore Pride Houston back to financial solvency and stable operations,” Walker explains. “We have a new board structure and members, new staff, and a long slate of new community partners that we work with. We are a more transparent board, internally and externally. We have switched to [new online] platforms that allow every board member [to have] access to all data, including financial, sponsors, and contracts.”
This rebranding and restructuring effort has been in the works since October 2020. Although the pandemic delayed many initiatives, the group decided that now was the time to implement the changes in time for this month’s downtown festival and parade.
This year’s pre-parade festival, which features dozens of vendors and performers, takes place beginning at 1 p.m. on June 25 in front of Houston City Hall. The parade starts at 6:30 p.m. that evening, and will be led by Pride Houston 365’s 2022 grand marshals—Isabel Longoria, Travis Torrence, Juliann Losey, Brandon Wolf, and Hatch Jr.—a diverse group of local LGBTQ and ally leaders being spotlighted for their advocacy efforts. Because the pandemic canceled the 2020 and ’21 Pride parades, grand marshals for those two years will join the 2022 grand marshals.
So, what can you expect from this year’s parade? “We’ve all been through so much during the last two years,” says Madison. “Historically, the LGBTQ+ community has always been under attack by someone, or by certain organizations. However, that will never stop us. ‘Houston, the Beat Goes On’ is our theme this year [that speaks to how our community has] resilience and will continue to persevere. The beat goes on!”
“It is also a nod to our history—the trailblazers in LGBTQ+ rights that have been the catalyst for landmark decisions,” Walker adds. “For example, the Supreme Court’s ruling in [the Houston-based] Lawrence v. Texas case paved the way for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the legalization of same-sex marriage. Houston is also a city with a rich musical history that all too often gets overlooked. Blues music recordings started during the 1940s in Houston [with the] Gold Star Recording Studio. Then fast-forward to icons like ZZ Top, Beyoncé, and Lizzo. Houston has always been ‘The Southern Capital of Cool,’ and the rest of the world is taking notice. Our theme expresses that. It doesn’t matter if it’s memorable historical moments or a celebration of the evolution of music. For Houston, ‘the beat goes on.’”
Pride Houston 365 organizers are expecting a larger turnout than usual for this year’s Pride Month events. “People are traveling from all over the world to participate in our June 25 parade and festival,” Madison says. “We have more events, and this year we are offering licenses to groups who want to have an official Pride Houston 365 [event]. No one has ever provided that opportunity before. Folks need to check our new website at pridehouston365.org for more information. We are growing and expanding our reach. Remember, if it isn’t on our website, it’s not official, and therefore money is going into the pockets of the event producers and not to the community. If they license through us, they are required to give a percentage of [proceeds] back to a nonprofit organization of their choice.”
“Our [local television] media partner KHOU, along with several radio stations, will be broadcasting live,” Walker notes. “The registration has been overwhelming. We expect an even bigger turnout than pre-pandemic. DJ Rocabye will be the official parade DJ, and Steven Tilotta, winner of the Montrose Idol competition, will perform as well. And don’t forget the festival before the parade that will feature top-tier entertainment.”
As for the best way to see the parade, organizers recommend purchasing a Grandstand VIP package at pridehouston.org/tickets for access to a special entrance, grandstand seating, an open bar, catered food at the festival, and much more.
Of course, there are always the free viewing options throughout downtown Houston. “Bring a lawn chair and a grab spot on the parade route,” suggests Walker. The parade will travel west on Milam, from McKinney to Leeland. “Or host a watch party at home, where you can view the parade on KHOU-11 in real time.”
What: The Houston Pride LGBT+ Pride Celebration
When: June 25 (festival begins at 1 p.m., parade begins at 6:30 p.m.)
Where: Afternoon festival in front of Houston City Hall, 901 Bagby St.; evening parade on Milam St. between McKinney and Leeland.