Activist, attorney, minister and group staging annual Easter benefit named to preside over nighttime parade in June
Ray Ramirez, Phyllis Randolph Frye, the Rev. Marilyn Meeker-Williams and Bunnies on the Bayou havea been elected as grand marshals of the 2006 Houston Pride Parade.
Pride Houston organizers announced the grand marshals at a special event at Guava Lamp on March 2.
The grand marshals will preside over the nighttime Houston Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Pride Parade on June 24. They were selected elected by a vote among the Houston GLBT community.
“We’re excited to announce this year’s Grand Marshals,” said Nick Brines, Pride Houston president. “Being named Grand Marshal is one of our community’s highest honors, and the list of past grand marshals is a “‘who’s who’ of GLBT community leaders. This year’s awardees definitely belong on that list.”
Ramirez, male grand marshal, has volunteered with civil, cultural, charitable and political organizations for many years. He has been instrumental in raising funds for AIDS charities and other organizations.
Ramirez was founder and first president of Lambda Roller Skating Club, and he participated with Team Houston at the 1994 Gay Games, receiving the bronze medal in speed skating.
Ramirez was an active member of the Pride Committee of Houston for many years, co-chairing the committee for two years and co-chairing the parade one year. He was also a board member of Bunnies on the Bayou for 17 years and coined the organization’s name.
Ramirez is a professional hair stylist and has instructed other stylists.
Frye is a transgender lawyer and GLBT activist who, for nearly 30 years, has worked to change laws that discriminate against GLBT individuals. She was instrumental in changing clothing laws during the 1980s that prohibited women from wearing zippered pants and men from wearing anything but pants.
She also helped establish the “Wick Marriage,” which allows same-sex transgender couples to marry; worked to convince high courts in Maryland that gender is more than chromosomes; and endeavored to change laws against same-sex marriage.
Frye was a founding member of the Transgender Law Conference and the Stonewall Law Association of Greater Houston. In 2005, she worked as a leader of the Houston Futures Conference and edited and published the “Gay Agenda” document that resulted from the conference.
Meeker-Williams is a United Methodist Church minister who asked to be appointed to a position working with GLBT people when her son came out to her. She was appointed to Bering Memorial United Methodist Church in 1996.
Meeker-Williams became active in the national Reconciling Movement of the United Methodist Church , crusaded to have GLBT persons openly welcomed by the denomination’s Houston district and spoke up for GLBT individuals who did not have a voice in dialogues with such groups as fellow pastors, United Methodist Women and the Texas Annual Conference.
She marched year after year in the annual Pride parade with members of Bering, and in 1999, she took a stance on gay marriage by refusing to marry any couples in her church until same-sex couples could also be married there. Her ministry focuses on providing a place where all who have lived with discrimination can tell their stories and be welcome, and it is evolving to serve the growing population of homeless youth, among whom a disproportionate number are GLBT.
Bunnies on the Bayou has produced an annual Easter Sunday fundraiser for 26 years, raising and donating more than $500,000 to local nonprofit organizations such as AIDS Foundation Houston, Bering Omega, HATCH and PFLAG.
Last year Bunnies on the Bayou was named “Favorite Benefit of the Year” and “Top Philanthropic Organization” by OutSmart magazine.
For more information about Pride 2006 or how to participate in Pride activities, go to the website at www.pridehouston.org, call the PrideLine at 713-529-6979 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, March 17, 2006.