Pride Houston’s events lineup looked quite different this year due to the ongoing pandemic. Looking ahead to 2021, the organization’s newly elected president, Thasia Madison, notes that even more changes are on the way. With the launch of Pride 360, Madison’s team will be working diligently throughout the year to strengthen, embolden, and support the LGBTQ+ community beyond the standard celebrations that usually take place exclusively in June.
A proud graduate of Prairie View A&M University, Madison is no stranger to Pride Houston. The IT professional and steadfast community volunteer has been with the organization for three years, beginning as a volunteer before joining the board of directors as outreach director and secretary. “[As president,] I am most excited about working with the board in setting the goals and vision of the organization,” the New Orleans native says. “Utilizing my skills as outreach director over the past three years, I plan to implement that vision by unveiling a new Pride 360 model and taking the organization to new heights.”
Regarding the new year-round programming, Madison explains that Pride 360 is all about supporting the community and broadening the scope of the organization. “Pride 360 will culminate in a rebranding of Pride Houston from a celebration organization to a year-round service and advocacy organization,” the out lesbian explains. “[We will accomplish this through] our scholarship program, community engagement initiatives, a human-rights conference, [more] special events for marginalized communities, and an expanded outreach using new platforms and channels, including podcasts, newsletters, and more.”
The organization also seeks to incorporate teamwork and support for other organizations into their plans. “Pride Houston will be standing in support of our sibling organizations in the community. In doing these things, I hope to make us a more well-rounded organization for all people in our community.”
Madison explains that her organization embodies what the LGBTQ+ community has known all along: “For all of us, Pride is a way of life that is unique to each of us, every single day. We are not just LGBTQIA+ one month out of the year. Houston deserves a Pride [organization] that reflects that and celebrates that year-round.”
Breaking down the immediate goals of the organization, Madison highlights “diversity and inclusivity for all—and this only happens when we become more active in voter registration, in tackling human-rights issues, increasing social activism, and investing in and welcoming smaller organizations like Huntsville Pride into the fold, for example.”
She also notes that there are even rumblings about the possibility of Houston applying again to host World Pride.
With Houston being the most diverse major city in the nation, Madison is adamant that its Pride organization should reflect that. She explains that a goal of Pride Houston is to blend intentionally with marginalized communities. “Our staff is beginning to reflect the diversity of the community we serve, as is our programming. An aspect of this is incorporating more trans and nonbinary experiences,” she says. “This past year, the community helped make that so by selecting our first-ever trans grand marshal.”
Providing another example of how Pride Houston aims to include all people, Madison continues, “Something I am particularly proud of is Rights Are Human, Pride Houston’s inaugural human-rights conference that I created, which took place at the end of this summer. This was brought to life in a safe, virtual space with workshops [that addressed] the rights of LGBTQIA+ people who are immigrants, students, and aging, as well as a workshop for trans rights, with attendees from across the nation.”
With Pride Houston now firing on all cylinders, Madison emphasizes that now is the perfect time to get involved with the volunteer-run organization. “Apply to serve on the board of directors, volunteer and serve on our production team, come to our town halls to give us feedback on what the community needs are, or become a donor,” Madison says. Donors are given the option to make one-time or monthly contributions, and they can also donate toward a specific cause.
Pride Houston’s fearless and enthusiastic new leader explains that spreading the gospel of Pride Houston is imperative to keep the organization alive. “We need our community to help spread the news about the actions we’re taking to improve the lives of queer people. Tell your friends and your family about it, and ask them to come volunteer,” Madison emphasizes. “Much of our new content, programming, in-person events, and multimedia is posted directly to our social media. Spreading the word about Pride Houston can help someone who needs the services we’re offering, and also increase [our ability] to give back to the community. It’s as simple to do as clicking a button.”
Donations to Pride Houston can be made at pridehouston.org/donate.
This article appears in the November 2020 edition of OutSmart magazine.