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Pearland and Kemah Host First-Ever LGBTQ Pride Celebrations

Organizers discuss this week’s historic events.

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While COVID-19 is postponing Houston’s 2021 Pride celebration and parade, there are plenty of smaller local Pride festivities to explore this month—including two brand-new LGBTQ events just south of Houston: Pearland Pride and Kemah Pride Week. 

Pearland Youth Movement, a progressive student group, is hosting Pearland’s first Pride event on Sunday, June 13, from 8 a.m. to noon at the Pavilion at Southdown Park, approximately 20 miles from downtown Houston. 

Vidya Muthupillai (Twitter)

“[Pearland Youth Movement] works with Pearland Independent School District about inclusivity issues,” says Vidya Muthupillai, 18, who is president of the youth group. “And we offer an anonymous way for students to share their experiences with us on our Instagram. We were getting a lot of stories about LGBTQ bullying; Pearland is not the most inclusive place. That’s when we decided to do this event.”

Muthupillai hopes that Saturday’s free event will be a starting point for additional Pearland Pride events in the future. The outdoor space will feature vendors selling merchandise to support the youth group. Masks will be required, and organizers say they are expecting a low-key celebration with a few hundred people attending. 

“Just come, hang out, and bring the kids,” Muthupillai says. “We’ll have henna art and face painting, and a drag queen, which I think is pretty cool. It will just be a casual way to relax and share.”

Kemah will also host its first-ever Pride celebration this week. Kemah Pride Week takes place at various locations through June 13, and the festivities include drag-queen bingo at Kemah Shot Bar, karaoke at Voodoo Hut, a singles luau at The Great Kanakas Atomic Tiki Bar, acoustical performances, parties, a Pride ball, and a Pride family day.

Shannon Peterson(l) and Colton Trout

“We saw a need for more [LGBTQ-affirming] family events,” says Shannon Peterson, founder of T.R.U.E. Love Project, a nonprofit that is coordinating Kemah’s Pride Week. “I started T.R.U.E. Love about a month before COVID hit to address domestic-violence issues.” 

Peterson approached several Kemah business owners about hosting a Pride celebration. “I’m pretty close to a lot of the businesses here, and we just started talking about Pride,” she says. Many of them agreed to sponsor Kemah Pride Week, including Colton Trout, owner of Paradise Tropical Wines, which is hosting the city’s first official Pride party on Friday, June 11. 

Trout and Peterson started talking to other small-business owners about the lack of Pride events in the Bay Area, and how they wanted to provide neighbors with a safe and fun alternative to traveling during COVID to attend Pride events in Galveston or Houston. 

“All the events are being held at private venues,” Peterson says. “In the future, we hope to partner with the city and maybe have a parade or larger outdoor events.”

Kemah Pride Week includes both free and paid activities, and tickets can be reserved on the organization’s website. Some events are only for adults 21 and over, but there are also kid-friendly events like Family Day at Cat Scratch Kitchen that will feature brunch and merchandise from local vendors.

For more details on the Pearland and Kemah events, visit facebook.com/pearlandyouthmovement and pridekemah.com.

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Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin has written about Texas culture, food, fashion, the arts, and Lone Star politics and crime for television, magazines, the web and newspapers nationwide, and worked in Houston politics for six years. Her freelance work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Dance International, Dance Magazine, the Advocate, Prime Living, InTown magazine, OutSmart magazine and web sites CultureMap Houston and Austin, Eater Houston and Gayot.com, among others.
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