EducationFeaturesHouston PridePride 2024

Rice University’s Inaugural Pride Parade: Celebrating LGBTQ Community

Event offers outreach opportunities amidst anti-LGBTQ legislation.

Rice PRIDE members at their inaugural Pride parade in April (Photos by Rice University)

Rice University recently hosted their first-ever Pride Parade event on campus, offering students and faculty outreach opportunities and activities amidst a time where anti-LGBTQ legislation is passing across the state.

Organized by the Rice PRIDE group, the inaugural parade took place in April and included poster-making, speeches by organizers and giveaway items such as pins and tie-dyed shirts. After the gathering, the crowd marched between Lovett Hall and Baker College as a way to recognize and celebrate the queer people who have been a part of the college’s history. Rice PRIDE also held a Gayla event at the Martel College commons where students, faculty, staff, and organizations that make contributions to the queer community were recognized.

While June is traditionally Pride Month, Rice PRIDE co-president Paige Fastnow says that student leaders decided on April 8–14 as Pride Week on campus since most Rice students return to their respective parts of the world during the summer.

“A lot of queer undergrads spend their summers away from campus and Houston,” Fastnow says. “I personally come from a rural area, where even though I’m out to my family, I don’t get many opportunities to find my pride. Other students are in the closet at home, and going to queer events in June can be a real risk. Because of that, we didn’t want to keep our student body waiting until June for Pride events they might not be able to attend.”

Fastnow, who identifies as a transgender woman, says the event was a way for those in the LGBTQ community to feel represented and heard in a time where so much anti-gay legislation is being passed throughout Texas, such as Senate Bill 17, which effectively prevents public higher education institutions from receiving state funding if Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) programs, including LGBTQ centers, are not dissolved.

“Celebrating Pride matters more than ever when actions like SB 17 are directly designed to limit the ability we all have to support each other,” Fastnow says. “One of the things we wanted to emphasize at our event was that Pride celebrations have always been political, and specifically, that the act of being proud of who you are is necessary in the face of antagonistic legislation. We don’t just want to celebrate in order to ignore the fact that our community is under attack; we want to celebrate because we need hope in the face of the world around us. Especially as students lose protections at their colleges and universities, it’s more important than ever for them to see that they’re not alone.”

For anyone who attended the April events, Fastnow hopes students and staff felt hopeful about the future and were reminded about the joy and pride we’re all advocating for.

“We wanted our underrepresented community members, especially trans students, to know that there is hope, that they will get to a place of joy and love and happiness, and that there are people all around them who are willing to show up for them and, sometimes literally, cheer them on. As a transgender woman and a drag queen, I’m not usually understood, let alone celebrated or loved, when I enter a room. The parade was amazing to me, because it gave my community the space to celebrate, and I know I’m not the only student who felt overjoyed to be welcomed by my peers.”

Going forward, Fastnow says the Rice PRIDE group will continue to build out their resources for LGBTQ youth and next year will offer up even more.

“Each year, Pride Week at Rice gets bigger and better,” Fastnow says. “We piloted some workshops this year, and we plan to expand them. Many queer students end up coming out in college, and a lot of them very quickly find themselves isolated and unsupported by their families. We want to make events that can get those students as much practical support as possible. We also want to connect our programming with the Houston queer community even more. For example, this year we were delighted to have Teresa LaRue, Phoebe Seymour, Dynasty Banks, and Hugh Dandy join our campus for our spring drag show, separate from our student-performer show. Our student body loved seeing them so much. We received so much positive feedback from that event, and we can’t wait to bring it back next year, bigger and better than ever.”

For more information, visit

FB Comments

Connor Behrens

Connor Behrens is a communications graduate from the University of Houston. He has written for the Washington Post, Community Impact Newspaper and the Galveston County Daily News (the oldest newspaper in Texas). When he's not writing stories, he is likely watching the latest new release at the movie theater.
Back to top button