Days before the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots—the June 28, 1969, uprising in New York City that sparked the modern LGBTQ-rights movement—Harris County showed its support for the queer community by enacting a resolution to commemorate its history.
During a virtual meeting on June 9, the Harris County Commissioners Court approved a resolution recognizing June as Pride Month. The court’s Democratic majority—County Judge Lina Hidalgo, along with Commissioners Rodney Ellis and Adrian Garcia—signed the resolution. Republican commissioners Jack Cagle and Steve Radack did not.
Longtime LGBTQ ally Garcia authored the pro-equality resolution, which was a first for Harris County.
“In June, the LGBTQ community, family and allies take this time to celebrate acceptance and love, remembering those who have championed and fought for equal treatment, dignity, and respect,” the resolution reads. “Be it resolved, that Harris County Commissioners Court celebrates the month of June 2020 as LGBTQ Pride Month in Harris County.”
Pride Houston President Lo Roberts spoke at the commissioners’ meeting, and emphasized that the civil-rights protests which led to the LGBTQ Pride movement are similar to the demonstrations now being seen nationwide in response to the senseless killings of George Floyd and so many other Black Americans.
“Fifty-one years ago, a riot broke out at the Stonewall Inn in New York City,” Roberts said. “[That uprising was] just like some of the ones we’ve seen lately in the media. Those riots broke out to take a stand against police brutality and the inequality of our queer community.”
Roberts then urged the Comissioners Court to continue supporting the queer community and all of Pride Houston’s efforts, including the organization’s 2020 LGBTQ celebration that will be a march and rally for equality at City Hall on June 27.
At the event, Pride Houston will be “embracing our First Amendment right by hosting a march and rally for justice and equality across the board, because Black lives do matter, as well as Black trans lives,” Roberts said.
Commissioner Garcia, who attended the Justice for George Floyd event at Discovery Green on June 2, told OutSmart he plans to be at Pride Houston’s event. “If I can participate in a protest, I can be at another peaceful rally,” he said.
Garcia’s support for the LGBTQ community is personal. His brother, who died of AIDS complications in 1995, was openly gay. Growing up, Garcia stood up to folks who bullied queer people.
“LGBTQ people have contributed to our society and have made it better and stronger,” Garcia said. “That is why I have always thought it was important to be in solidarity with the community at every turn.”
As an elected official, Garcia has shown his support for LGBTQ people by taking direct action. As a City Council member, he openly supported same-sex marriage in 2004. In 2012, while Garcia was Harris County sheriff, he and pioneering transgender activist Nikki Araguz Loyd created a policy that requires trans inmates to be addressed by their chosen name.
Garcia also walked in Houston’s Pride parade as a City Council member, and was the first County sheriff to participate in 2014. Five years later as a comissioner, Garcia authored a resolution to recognize November 20 as the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) in Harris County.
Garcia’s 2019 TDOR resolution passed 3-2, with Garcia, Hidalgo, and Ellis voting in favor of it. That same year, the Democratic members of the Commissioners Court enacted a policy to protect County LGBTQ workers.
Ellis was elected in 2017, and Democrats have had the majority in the Commissioners Court since Garcia and Hidalgo were elected in November 2018. Since then, it has been easier to move forward with pro-equality resolutions and policies in Harris County, Garcia said.
“We’re now passing resolutions for causes and issues that have never been discussed at this level,” Garcia noted. “But unfortunately, still only Democrats are signing these resolutions. That means we still have work in front of us.”
Garcia says that he hopes more open-minded candidates will be elected to the Commissioners Court in the future.
“My vision is that we will elect good people who care about ensuring that County government is open and intended to serve all people,” he said. “That’s the Commissioners Court that I believe is obtainable in my lifetime.”
Watch footage from the June 9 Commissioners Court meeting here: https://harriscountytx.new.swagit.com/videos/63107
Read Harris County’s Pride Month resolution here: 20200609-A-Resolution-Pride Month v4