Participants toss items to spectators during last year’s Houston Pride parade.
After Pride Houston announced at a parade participation meeting that condoms could not be distributed at Pride, the Houston Department of Health and Human Services threatened to withdraw.
Pride Houston claimed in an email that a city ordinance prevented them from allowing condom distribution:
“Recent changes in city ordinances have constituted a change in the 2013 celebration rules. They are as follows: Parade entries are not allowed to throw/distribute contraceptives from their entry (i.e., float, vehicle or walking individuals).”
But letters from the health department and Legacy Community Health Services, a Houston AIDS agency, asked the parade committee to reconsider and pointed out that there is no such city ordinance.
The committee issued several clarifications during the week. One said condoms needed to be distributed in packs with educational material and could only be distributed to people over 18.
Another was condoms could be distributed at the festival after the parade but not at the parade.
Another noted that nothing could be thrown from floats, according to a city ordinance. But beads are regularly thrown.
Finally, the committee agreed that condoms could be distributed by walking participants in the parade but not thrown from floats. The health department may also distribute condoms at the festival. No age limit was mentioned in the latest clarification.
“My take is they got some bad information on what the ordinances are,” said Daniel Williams, a Houston LGBT activist.
Williams works for Equality Texas but was speaking as a Houston LGBT activist. He pointed out Pride Houston is a volunteer organization.
“Now that they have better information, they changed the rules to comply with the information they have,” he said.
The Houston parade takes place along Westheimer Road in the city’s Montrose neighborhood on June 29.