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Texas Pride Organizations Regroup

COVID-19 forces events to postpone, cancel, or move online.

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Every year, LGBTQ organizations celebrate and honor the 1969 Stonewall Riots with Pride marches, educational workshops, live entertainment, parades, and more. But due to the pandemic and the need to maintain social distancing, these groups must decide whether to postpone, virtualize, or cancel their events altogether. 

Pride Houston Inc. Postpones Events

Pride Houston, Inc., which hosts Space City’s LGBTQ celebration each June and smaller events throughout the summer, has postponed its 2020 celebration to October 31, according to its website. The nonprofit intends to hold its festival and parade in the fall—either in person, online, or both.

“There [is much] to celebrate, [but there are] still changes that need to be made regarding laws and regulations here in the U.S. and all over,” says Pride Houston President and CEO Lo Roberts. “For us to do that, we must stand together, stand strong, and make our voices heard through the Pride movement. These are rough times for everyone, and it’s uncertain and unknown. But after every storm there’s a rainbow—and that rainbow will be Pride, no matter how it looks.”

Pride Houston Vice President Kendra “Kay” Walker echoes that sentiment, adding that the organization is working hard to bring Houston the Pride celebration it deserves. June will always be a time for the LGBTQ community to get on the same page and raise awareness about the adversities it faces, according to Walker.

“Not a lot of people are aware of those issues, [so Pride Month is a] party with a purpose.”

The status of Pride Houston’s smaller events is undetermined. A few events, such as Rights Are Human and the Reel Pride film festival, will be held online. Others may occur in person, following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and City of Houston safety guidelines that require temperature screenings, capacity limits, and hand-sanitizing stations. Pride Houston’s most up-to-date information can be found online at facebook.com/pridehouston.

Along with Pride Houston’s LGBTQ celebration, other rescheduled events throughout Texas and their tentative dates and locations are:

Splash South Padre Island’s PRIDE AT THE BEACH on August 20–22 at South Padre Island, Texas.
Denton Pride Foundation’s Denton Pride Fest 2020 on September 12 at North Texas Fair and Rodeo in Denton, Texas.
North Texas Pride Foundation’s Come as You Are Festival on September 13 at Haggard Park’s ArtCentre of Plano, Inc. in Plano, Texas.
Pride Galveston’s Beach Bash Weekend on September 19 at R.A. Apffel East Beach Park in Galveston, Texas.
Mosaic Project of South Texas, Inc.’s PRIDE 2020 activities in October.
The Galveston Pride Parade organization has rescheduled their parade for 2021.

The Woodlands Pride Cancels its Festival

Elsewhere, organizations like The Woodlands Pride have decided to cancel their 2020 celebrations for similar reasons.

The Woodlands Pride cancelled its third annual festival, originally scheduled for September 26, due to safety and security concerns, according to CEO Jason Rocha. The uncertainty surrounding permits and CDC guidelines also convinced the organization to cancel, he says.

“We trust that everyone will understand the changes, even though it may be accompanied with sadness,” Rocha notes. “Regardless, the spirit of Pride is bigger than any single event. We’d love to hear from you—we want to let you know that we are here with you during this very unique time.”

The nonprofit will bring back Together With Pride, or feature personal stories of the local LGBTQ community, on its Facebook page. The Woodlands Pride is also considering hosting virtual or smaller ticketed events in the fall. The latest information on The Woodlands Pride events can be found at facebook.com/TheWoodlandsPride/.

Other canceled Texas Pride events include:

El Paso Sun City Pride’s June gatherings.
Wichita Falls Pride’s in-person 2020 events.
Panhandle Inc. Pride’s June festival.

Queerbomb Austin and Dallas Pride Go Virtual

Instead of canceling or postponing, organizations like Queerbomb plan to host their Pride Month events exclusively online.

In the past, Queerbomb, an LGBTQ grassroots organization based in Austin, celebrated Pride Month on the first Saturday of June in four parts—a gathering time with information tables connecting attendees to local organizations, speakers discussing community issues, a community march through downtown, and a dance party at the end of the march.

However, because of the pandemic, Queerbomb decided to celebrate its tenth year of Pride online on June 6 from 7 to 9 p.m. CST, live on its Facebook page.

This Queerbomb online celebration will still feature two emcees interacting with video segments and artwork submitted by the community. The organization will then play five- to seven-minute videos of community leaders discussing what adversities the LGBTQ community faces. Finally, the night ends with a Zoom dance party.

Nathan Pham, Queerbomb’s co-organizer focusing on fundraising and design, notes that although events are now online, the organization’s mission and the purpose of its Pride events remains the same: to show what a thriving, radically inclusive queer community looks like. 

“One of the biggest parts of Queerbomb is our march and visibility,” Pham says. “Not everyone within our community is able to be out everywhere. So, to have a big, loud, and important virtual Queerbomb can help audiences feel they have the ability to be out and proud with us.”

Austinites will have other opportunities to celebrate the LGBTQ community this summer at events like Austin Pride’s 30th annual festival and parade, according to the organization’s website, austinpride.org. While this Pride event is still set to occur on August 15 at Fiesta Gardens, LGBTQ Austin nonprofits like the QWELL Community Foundation are preparing for Austin Pride’s possible cancellation of this event.

Clayton Gibson, QWELL’s founder, says the foundation aims to show LGBTQIA+ Pride in every neighborhood in the Greater Austin area by giving away free rainbow flags on a first-come, first-served basis to any household or business that flies a flag from August 9 to August 15.

Interested individuals can also donate to help the organization give away up to 1,000 Pride flags. Further information about the opportunity can be found on QWELL’s website.

Dallas Pride announced it will also host a virtual celebration. The organization’s executive director, Jaron Turnbow, says its online events are opportunities for community members to come together, support one another, and celebrate their unique identities.

“The virtual celebrations let people know we’re here; we’re not going anywhere,” Turnbow says. “Younger generations need to know they’re not alone in this fight [for LGBTQ acceptance]. It’s a chance to get together and have fun with rainbows and glitter.”

More information on Dallas Pride’s virtual schedule and events can be found on the organization’s Facebook page.

Other Virtual Pride Events

Like Queerbomb Austin and Dallas Pride, organizations listed below will also host virtual Pride celebrations:

• South Texas Equality Project’s (STEP) PRIDE in the PARK for all of June on Facebook Live, IGTV, and Zoom. The most up-to-date information on STEP’s events can be found at facebook.com/PRIDEINTHEPARKRGV.
• Pride San Antonio’s Pride Bigger Than Texas on June 27 at facebook.com/pridesanantonio.

OutSmart will continue to update its website with the latest Pride events news. You can also keep up with the many Texas LGBTQ Pride organizations by visiting their respective websites and Facebook pages.

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Lillian Hoang

Lillian is a spring 2020 intern for OutSmart magazine and a journalism major at the University of Houston. She is minoring in Asian American studies and also works as a College of Education communication assistant. She has interned at the Houston Chronicle and hopes to become an editor-in-chief.

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