There is a new Pride organization in town. Houston’s New Faces of Pride has emerged in the wake of the ongoing dysfunction among local Pride organizers. Bryan Cotton is the president and founder of this new endeavor, and he hopes that with the support of an experienced board of directors and the community at large, Houston Pride events will once again be an attractive destination for people all over the region.
“We are building a completely new Pride organization that is not only diverse and transparent, but one that will remove the tarnished reputation that hovers over our city under previous leadership. We will turn Houston into a destination Pride city and deliver year-round celebrations that support LGBTQ+ businesses and nonprofits,” says Cotton.
New Faces of Pride has already taken the lead on next year’s June Pride Month celebrations. It has secured an exclusive permit with the City to hold a downtown Pride celebration on June 22, 2024. The festivities will be centered around the Wortham Theater’s Fish Plaza, and Cotton believes it will be the grandest Pride festival to date.
“The event marks a highly anticipated comeback, featuring a lineup of familiar faces from Houston’s small-business community and enthusiastic sponsors already supporting [the festival],” says Cotton.
Over the last three years, Cotton has voiced many of the concerns that he had heard from the community related to Houston’s Pride celebrations. This is why he created the New Faces of Pride nonprofit. The continued decline of Pride activities and questions surrounding its leadership (including what he perceives as questionable funds distribution) is just one of the reasons he and his board finally said “Enough is enough.”
However, some in the community have allegedly tried to undermine the new organization, according to Cotton. “It is no surprise that old, iniquitous organizations and affiliated individuals are not happy about [New Faces of Pride]. They can continue to report our Facebook page, file vague trademarks, send threatening messages, and put out false information about us and our [nonprofit] status, but we will not be deterred from doing the right thing for our community,” he says.
The goals of the New Faces of Pride leaders are numerous. Cotton promises they will make sure that their vendors, volunteers, and sponsors are treated with respect. They won’t require board members, or any of the honorees, to pay a give/get in cash. They will be transparent with their finances and make their IRS Form 990 available to the public. They will post the names of their board of directors and advisory board members on their website. They will have a pleasant working relationship with the Houston Police Department. They will not alienate the bars in the community, and will work together for a common goal. And they will not be asking sponsoring bars for their door cover charges or a portion of their sales.
New Faces of Pride’s inaugural slate of officers, in addition to Cotton, are: Felicia Flores Wild, vice president; Jill Maxwell, board secretary; Donald Simms III, treasurer; and Tim Stokes, parliamentarian. The organization’s splash page, which is still under development, can be viewed at newfacesofpride.org, where visitors can find links to social media and information on how to volunteer.
In the meantime, Cotton and his board have extended an invitation to the community to join them for their kickoff on November 9 at 6:00 p.m. at Rich’s Houston. Those who can’t make the event but still want to get involved can email New Faces of Pride at [email protected].