June 28th, 2011
Houston PRIDE Parade: PRIDE and Joy
For me, the Houston PRIDE Parade has less to do with the celebration of homosexuality, and more to do with the right to love whomever the hell you please, without the government sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong. On a day where major inroads for gay rights were paved in New York, Houston did its part to spread the message. I won’t get on a soapbox about civil rights here, as I realize that hyperbole, hot pants and rainbow wigs aren’t always appropriate attire for storming Capitol Hill. So I’ll just stick to the PRIDE Parade facts, namely, that this is one of the best events in Houston, and dare I say it, the whole damned country.
During great opportunities for impromptu photojournalism, I like to leave the house with either no camera, or one with a dying battery. It’s just my thing, so the wilder details of the night will have to be classified as gay pride lore. At the beginning of the parade near Hazard and Westheimer, you got that feeling of impending excitement, so thick it could be cut with a knife. Or maybe that was humidity. The lines of marching members of the LGBT community were simply the long fuse leading to the powder keg that was central Montrose. I decided to meander along, following the spark.
As treacherous a drive as a trip down Westheimer is during busy hours, the narrow, pot-holed lane is perfect for a parade. Through-streets were blocked off accordingly by police that seemed to just be grateful for the chance to take in the spectacle perched atop their horses. Every bar and restaurant was filled to capacity with onlookers, and what a show they got. As the sun went down, the energy increased to an even more palpable degree as show girls (and boys) undulated to booming bass from floats that would make Liberace blush. Of course there were those that took a more conservative route, such as local politicians, school organizations and health advocacy groups, but as the spark kept burning, even the more reserved crowd loosened up. Boas fluttered. Glitter sparkled. Asses shook. By the time the line was marching by the revelry at Royal Oak, things had progressed into a Mardi Gras-like condition, except I didn’t spot any gang violence or people vomiting in the street.
When the masses got to South Beach, a full-fledged block party had erupted. As if it were a triple-dog dare, I was more than happy to rush headlong into the fray with my wife and buddies in tow, but the bar’s $20 cover chased me off. I settled for some Zilla macaroni and pulled pork instead, and sat there on the curb stuffing it down. If there was any doubt as to my heterosexuality, the vision of me plopped down, sweating in the humidity and dribbling cheese and barbecue sauce onto my chest quickly put it to rest. It was their world that night, and I was just welcome in it. As I looked around at the surreal festivities, I was ecstatic to live in Houston, where we’re not content to just love- we take pride in it.
Best exchange of the evening:
Dude #1: “Where’s my parade for being heterosexual?”
Dude #1’s friend: “Every day is your parade, asshole.”
Three things they got right:
1.) The route and timing. Everything fit.
2.) Pre-parade festivities. Let’s be honest, at its core, the PRIDE Parade deals with a lot of sexually driven themes. Parents and more conservative types, whether gay or straight, may not be down with wearing that on one’s sleeve. Pre-parade events provided some opportunity to support the LGBT community in a less keyed-up manner.
3.) Wow factor. For a Mardi Gras junkie to be impressed with the razzle-dazzle of a parade float, someone must have spared no expense.
Three things they need to work on:
1.) Umm…I got nothin’. I’m sure there are examples, and we’d love to hear your own constructive criticism, but from this Loopster’s perspective, PRIDE knocked it out of the park.
Overall grade: A+