By Marene Gustin
Come out! Outside, that is, and get ready for one of the biggest parties of the year, Rainbow on the Green at downtown’s Discovery Green park.
It’s the official prequel to Pride Week here in Houston (June 16 through 26), and it’s not to be missed. This is the sixth annual park party and citywide LGBT celebration, this year sponsored by Land Rover Houston Central and presented by Legacy Community Health. Big-name acts will be country’s darling gay singer and last month’s OutSmart coverboy Billy Gilman (“One Voice” and the recent “Red to Blue”) and dance-party queen and same-sex-marriage proponent Taylor Dayne (“Dreaming”) as well as Texas’ own Vancie Vega appearing as Dolly Parton.
“Performing as Dolly these last 25 years has brought many special gifts,” Vega says. “Gifts I’m able to share through works in my community and with anyone who needs them—or me, for that matter. I’m honored to be billed along with legendary songbird (I may have fanned out!) Taylor Dayne and our very own LGBTQ country-music star Billy Gilman. This year will be one amazing show!”
And it will.
“Rainbow on the Green is our annual salute to Pride,” says Discovery Green president and park director Barry Mandel. “Each year it continues to grow, and this year, especially, we think we have something for everyone. There is no place quite like Discovery Green to celebrate Pride with great entertainment under the stars and Houston’s skyline as a backdrop.”
The verdant oasis in the midst of downtown concrete is an almost-12-acre man-made park created on the site of a former parking lot. With its lake, fountains, dog runs, kids’ areas, public art, and two eateries—including The Grove, with its rooftop patio overlooking the treescapes—it is a perfect spot for outdoor events. The event is free (sorry, no V.I.P. tickets available this year) and open to the public, so come on down—but do bring some folding money to get snacks at the Lake House, which has a huge patio along Kinder Lake. Grab a big ol’ bacon cheeseburger, hot dog, or tacos and find a shady spot to nosh and enjoy the music from the stages.
Organizers are expecting around 4,000 people to show up to celebrate Houston’s LGBT community and the kickoff to Pride Week here in H-town, so come early—the event starts at 7 p.m. You can bring lawn chairs or blankets to hunker down on the grass, but no pets or glass containers, please.
Houston Gaymers—the largest “gay gamer” community in Texas—will be on hand again this year, offering you the opportunity to play Super Smash Bros., Wii U, and Mario Kart.
You can drive downtown to the event—there is garage and street parking available—but your best bet is to take a bike, bus, or the downtown jitney service.
Rainbow on the Green is the larger, flashier sister of the winter Rainbow on Ice event, when the LGBT community grabs ice skates and hits up the iced-over lake for a party.
What: Rainbow on the Green (OutSmart is an official media sponsor)
When: June 11, 7 p.m.
Where: Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney St.
Marene Gustin is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.