Houston knows how to put on a parade and their timing was perfect

The timing couldn’t have been better for Houston’s Pride parade: the day after Decision Day. And what a parade. 450,000 participated, 10 times the number Dallas attracts. The parade has gotten so large that it moved downtown this year for the first time.

Mayoral candidates with 100+ supporters. Fourteen story parking garages filled with viewers in levels. Floats created by designers. And the timing … one day after Decision Day. Houston did everything right.

More about what made the Houston parade so good in Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  David Taffet

Houston Pride reverses course, allows condoms to be distributed at parade

Houston Pride

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.

—  David Taffet

What’s Shakin – Houston Pride Band’s Guilty Pleasures, Haute Boys of fall

Artistic Director Skip Martin

Pride Band Artistic Director Skip Martin

1. The Houston Pride Band presents “Guilty Pleasures,” a concert featuring the favorite guilty pleasures of the Pride Band members, tonight at 7:30 at the Hobby Center.  The concert marks the premier of the Pride Band’s new artistic Director, Skip Martin.  Martin chose the feature favorite’s from the bands 30-year history. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased from the Hobby Center.
2. The “Haute Boys of Fall II” gather at James Craig Furniture (4500 Washington Avenue), since their founding in 2010 the Haute Boys (which includes quite a few girls) have raised over $15,000 for area AIDS charities.  Tonight’s event features complimentary signature cocktails by Harmonie, an array of neighborhood bites, elements of design and fashion, music and more. Admission is an unwrapped toy, gift card or $20 donation for Houstonians in need.
3.  Voter turnout held steady for the ninth day of early voting in Harris County.  So far 34,329 people have voted, only 80% of the 42,968 who had voted by this point during the 2009 municipal elections.  Montrose’s own Multi Service Center on West Gray broke 400 voters for the first time since voting began on Oct 24. Early voting continues through November 4.  Election day is Nov 8. A list of all early voting locations and sample ballots  are available at harrisvotes.org.

—  admin

Houston Pride: A photo essay by Daniel Williams

The 33rd annual Houston Pride Festival and Parade on Saturday were a huge success, made only more joyous by the passage of marriage equality in New York the night before. The celebration is a community-wide affair, full of larger-than-life characters and everyday people braving the heat and humidity in celebration of their pride in the LGBT community.

—  admin

Houston Chronicle puts Pride atop main page

Houston Pride is Saturday, and Instant Tea contributor Daniel Williams will have a report from the festivities later in the weekend. But for now we wanted to point out that the Bayou City’s daily newspaper, the Houston Chronicle, posted a Pride preview as the top story on its main page this afternoon, complete with a photo of a lesbian couple kissing behind what appears to be their son (screen grab below). Needless to say, The Dallas Morning News would never, ever do this. If you’re headed to Houston this weekend, check out the Chronicle’s schedule of events.

—  John Wright

Trans activist robbed, beaten in apparent hate crime at Houston Community College

Lance Reyna (Houston Chronicle)

A transgender activist and student at Houston Community College was beaten and robbed at knifepoint Tuesday in what he says was a hate crime, The Houston Chronicle reports.

Lance Reyna, 29, says his attacker uttered a sexual epithet in a “flamboyant,” mocking tone before putting a knife to his throat in a campus bathroom. Reyna is well known on campus as a trans activist. Reyna suffered a concussion and lost his wallet. His credit cards were later used for purchases. The attack occurred days before this weekend’s Houston Pride celebration.

Reyna told the Chronicle he believes the attack should be prosecuted under Texas’ hate crimes law, but there are two problems here. One, the 2001 law doesn’t cover transgender people, and two, aggravated robbery is already a first-degree felony, meaning there is no sentencing enhancement available.

What the Chronicle’s story doesn’t say is that the crime could and should be prosecuted under the federal hate crimes law passed in October. In fact, one of the biggest benefits to the federal law for people in Texas is that it covers trans people, whereas state law does not.

We spoke with Randall Terrell, political director at Equality Texas, about the case this morning. Terrell agreed the case would be difficult to prosecute under state law.

“If the guy believes that any transgender person is also gay and that’s why he attacked, there may be a sexual orientation element in there,” he said. “But if it’s just because of gender identity, it’s going to be hard to prosecute.”

Terrell also agreed that the feds can intervene because the new hate crimes law calls for that when a state lacks jurisdiction, which is the case in Texas when it comes to gender identity. A federal prosecution could carry an additional penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

—  John Wright