Discovery Green plans increased security for ‘Show Your Pride Night.’
By Don Maines
Faith, not fear, is what openly gay country star Ty Herndon says will matter most when he headlines this week’s free Thursday Night Concert presented by Green Mountain Energy at Discovery Green.
The downtown Houston park has an open-air layout with similarities to the site of Sunday’s outdoor country music festival in Las Vegas, where a gunman, from his room on the 23rd floor of a hotel, shot and killed at least 59 defenseless concertgoers on the ground.
“My grandmother taught me, ‘We have to live every day in faith, not in fear,’” says Herndon. “The first year after I came out, I was getting death threats, but I kept walking out onstage, and letting my light shine.”
Discovery Green is across the street from the George R. Brown Convention Center. High-rise office buildings, hotels and condominiums tower over the park, which hosts free concerts on Thursday nights in the fall and spring.
“This Thursday, concertgoers will see an increased security presence,” says Barry Mandel, Discovery Green’s president and park supervisor.
“We are constantly having to evaluate security measures,” Mandel adds, noting that the park hosted huge crowds in the last few years at events associated with Super Bowl LI and the NCAA Men’s Final Four.
Opening the concert will be recently wed lesbian couple Ashley Hennessy and Heather Miller of Houston’s The Band Hennessy. Concert co-sponsors Cactus Music, KPFT 90.1, KPRC Houston Life and Saint Arnold Brewing Co. have billed the event as “Show Your Pride Night.”
Speaking by phone from his home in Nashville, Herndon says he anticipates a blended, “very Modern Family crowd.”
“That’s what I draw these days, along with gay men and a lot of lesbians,” he says, laughing. “Everybody’s happy under one roof.”
“I just love his voice,” Mandel says. “We’ve never had Ty or The Band Hennessy in the park, so we are hoping for a whole new crowd, and also to bring in our regulars to get a taste of Ty.”
Herndon debuted on country music charts in 1995 with “What Mattered Most,” a No. 1 single that became the title track to his chart-busting debut album.
Subsequent top hits included “Living in a Moment” and “It Must Be Love,” among others.
By 2000, however, Herndon seemed to bottom out both personally and professionally.
In the November 20, 2014 cover story of People magazine, Herndon bravely became the first major male country artist to publicly come out as gay.
“I was prepared not to be in music at all,” he says. “It was more important for me to be honest. I would rather flip burgers at Burger King and be happy.”
Last November, Herndon released a collection of 12 songs he calls House on Fire.
“That is actually my ‘coming out’ album,” he says. •
For more info on Show Your Pride Night, go here.