Living Loud and Proud
Celebrity Grand Marshal Madison Hildebrand lands in Houston.
To make a parade a success, you need outstanding floats, excited patrons and, of course, a stellar grand marshal. This year, the Houston Pride Parade will host four grand marshals, each from a different walk of life. Of the four, Madison Hildebrand is probably the one spectators are going to try to get a good look at.
Hildebrand's name may not be a household one to everyone, but his rising celebrity status is undeniable. He stars on the popular Bravo reality show Million Dollar Listing, which just kicked off its fifth season this month. The show focuses on several high-powered real estate agents, all young and dashing, and the day-to-day business of selling multimillion-dollar properties in Hollywood and Malibu.
Watching Hildebrand in action is a treat. The guy knows how to sell a house! It's not a surprise that he was chosen to be a part of the Bravo production. Hildebrand graduated from Pepperdine University and quickly made a name for himself in the world of real estate. He reached the milestone of selling more than $120 million before he turned 30. He has been deemed one of the top-producing agents in the country several times over and is noted for his charming and honest personality as well as a deep knowledge of the marketplace.
In addition to his professional work, Hildebrand is an active philanthropist and champion of social services and organizations, which has led him to take part in various causes. This year, Houston Pride is one of them. Madison was chosen by the board of directors of Pride Houston for the impact he has had on the LGBT community.
The Houston Press recently spoke with Pride's celebrity grand marshal about the LGBT community, his affection for Texas and what it means to be a grand marshal.
Houston Press: What is your connection to the Houston LGBT community?
Madison Hildebrand: Well, I have lived in Austin and Plano, so there is a piece of my heart here in Texas (mainly with Blue Bell ice cream and barbecue), but I've never been to Houston. My connection is more with the LGBT community in general. When I was approached to be the grand marshal, I was excited that it was in a part of Texas that I've always wanted to visit. Also, there is a strong real estate market in Houston, and I feel like I was an appealing choice because of my presence in real estate and also as an outwardly gay, and hopefully positive, television personality.
HP: The theme of this year's Pride Parade is "Live Out Proud." What does that mean to you?
MH: Embracing and celebrating your sexuality, not just living out of the closet but really being proud of who you are and your lifestyle choices because as we know, sexuality isn't a choice.
HP: How are you going to get ready for the Pride Parade? Anything special you want to do while you're here?
MH: I'm bringing one of my favorite and wildest girlfriends with me to Houston. We always seem to find the fun. My friends and fans have given me a lot of suggestions on restaurants and bars that I cannot miss. I'm excited to try F Bar and JR's and much, much more.
HP: It's hot in Houston. What are you going to wear?
MH: I'm still working on my costume, but I know that it will not require a lot of material.
HP: Season Five of Million Dollar Listing starts this month. Can you give us a sneak peek at what to expect?
MH: Expect bigger and better deals. Faster negotiations. Tougher clients. A little betrayal, a little champagne-throwing and a lot of fun. I feel like I've really come into my own this season, and it plays out both personally and professionally in this season. Tune in Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on Bravo.
HP: What are you looking forward to from this year's parade?
MH: Spreading and receiving the love! I can't wait to dance, smile and have an absolute blast, surrounded by like-minded and supportive people. I'd be lying if I were to say that I'm not a little excited at the prospect of meeting a hot Texan, too.
Through the Looking Glass
Wonderland Houston aims to put the Bayou City on the circuit-party map.
This year's Pride celebration brings a chance to walk to the other side of the mirror. In addition to the regular lineup of the Pride Parade and various other Pride-themed events, Pride Houston has added something a little "mad" to the mix. If the idea of an Alice in Wonderland-themed party catches your fancy, you're in luck with Wonderland Houston, an all-out dance party extravaganza.
Pride Houston President and CEO Frankie Quijano saw a gap in the Houston circuit-party scene and felt that Pride was just the organization to fill the need. A circuit party is a large bash, customarily an all-nighter, that takes place usually in conjunction with a number of associated events. Some of the biggest circuit parties, such as Miami's long-running Winter Party, attract thousands of guests from around the world. While Quijano doesn't anticipate that type of crowd for Wonderland's inaugural event, he hopes it will put Houston on the map as a premiere destination for the circuit and LGBT community.
Quijano has had the idea for a dance party for several years. "We always had the name 'Wonderland' in mind," he says. "We just were waiting for the right time to use it." The "right time" would wind up being the perfect mix of solid partnerships and creativity.
Quijano found a partner in Live Nation, which has been promoting the event using its vast resources. Wonderland will encompass the entirety of Bayou Music Center (formerly Verizon Wireless Theater) on June 22 from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. The word is really getting around, he says, and the buzz is that people really love the theme and are glad that Houston is getting back into the circuit-party business.
For a circuit party to take off, creativity is king, and the "Alice in Wonderland" theme allows for some wild ideas to come to fruition. Wonderland will be a nonstop entertainment ride with go-go dancers, drag performances by Jenna Ray and others, and select areas to get lost in such as the Queen's Throne, Madhatter's Tea, the Caterpillar's Lair and the Cheshire's Retreat. Pride has also commissioned an exclusive performance by Cirque du Soleil aerialists François Gravel and Michael Lanphear, who are designing a unique performance specifically for the event. They'll also be donning Tweedledee and Tweedledum costumes. Speaking of costumes, dressing up is highly encouraged but not required.
Of course, in addition to the mayhem, expect some serious dancing, since Wonderland is, after all, a dance party. Managing the beats for the event will be DJ Michael Tank, who's no stranger to the circuit-party business and has DJ'ed at many high-profile parties including White Party Week and the Winter Party Festival, both in Miami. He's spun a few times in Houston at clubs like Rich's and South Beach.
In addition to raising funds for Pride, Wonderland is donating a portion of the proceeds to Bunnies on the Bayou, a local organization that distributes funds for a variety of educational and cultural LGBT charities in Houston.
If all goes well, Wonderland or a similar such circuit party will become a staple of Pride week celebrations. This year's Pride theme is "Live Out Proud," and Quijano believes a party like this is a perfect fit. "It's about having fun and being yourself," he tells us. "We are an evolving community and we should be proud of who we are and who we can become."
Wonderland will take place from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, June 22, at Bayou Music Center, 520 Texas. Tickets are $30 in advance and $40 at the door. For more information, visit wonderlandhouston.com.
One for the History Books
The Gulf Coast Archive & Museum preserves the story of the Houston LGBT community.
In 1999, members of the Houston LGBT community got together to discuss a very important topic: their history and how to preserve it. The group concluded that Houston was in need of an archival museum that would chronicle the people, places and events that have affected the city's LGBT movement. Additionally, the museum would be used as a place for education and outreach. Houston's gay community has an important story to tell, and someone needed to remember it.
The result of these efforts is the Gulf Coast Archive & Museum of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender History Inc., or GCAM. For more than a decade, this little institution has been keeping records, past and present, of all that goes on within the LGBT community. It's had its hands full.
Judy Reeves, the museum's curator, has been with the project since day one. "We saw a need for it," she says. Reeves is an animated woman who speaks about the museum's history with a quick Southern drawl and an immense passion. It's her baby. Reeves and the museum's founders wanted not just an archive and educational center, but also a repository for people to bring the belongings of those who were taken by AIDS. Rather than trashing the personal heirlooms of their lost loved ones, people can bring them to GCAM. This has become a part of GCAM's purpose.
GCAM was at one point housed in a warehouse near Reeves' home, but the expense was too much, and she did not see the overwhelming demand for an open visiting space that kept regular business hours. Currently GCAM rents 4,000 feet of wall space at the LGBT Cultural Center inside the Montrose Counseling Center at 401 Branard. The wall space serves as a display area for much of GCAM's art and artifacts. New exhibitions go up throughout the year.
Currently GCAM has a T-shirt exhibition on display, which features hundreds of politically and/or provocatively charged gay and lesbian-themed shirts.
"T-shirts have always been a place for us to advertise our opinions," says Reeves. "They are historical markers of where we have been." The display changes every few weeks because of the sheer volume of shirts the museum has accumulated. "We have a T-shirt from every Pride event that created a T-shirt," Reeves boasts.
Other organizations have caught wind of GCAM's T-shirt exposition and have begun donating to the cause. If an organization has LGBT-themed shirts in its repertoire, Reeves encourages them to send them her way.
Donations of artifacts and other items are just a part of what keeps GCAM going. The museum runs on a shoestring budget of $700 per month. "It doesn't seem like much, but for us it's a lot," Reeves explains. The museum receives limited financial support from grants, with the lion's share coming from individual donations. Reeves laughs that this is one of those times when every dollar really does count.
Because of limited funds, GCAM won't be able to have a float in this year's Pride Parade, but the organization will be represented nonetheless, with a table in Pride's "Education Tent" to bolster the museum's efforts as well as bring awareness to Houston's rich LGBT history.
The Education Tent is exactly where Reeves wants GCAM to be, not just in terms of Pride but also in the community. "It's GCAM's mission to educate people, starting with school-aged children, on AIDS and the LGBT lifestyle." It's her assessment that when children are introduced to gays at a young age, they will be more accepting as adults.
"I come in and talk to them and they see me as this grandma, just like theirs, and maybe they will learn to have a little more love in their hearts."
The Gulf Coast Archive & Museum of LGBT History Inc. is located at the LGBT Cultural Center inside the Montrose Counseling Center, 401 Branard St. For more information, visit gcam.org.
Living Loud and Proud
Celebrating Houston's Pride 2012
For more than 33 years, Pride Houston has been honoring and supporting the city's ever-growing LGBT community. While the organization works year-round, much of its efforts are focused on the week of June 17 through 23, which has been designated Pride Week. At the heart of it are the festival and parade, where Houstonians celebrate living out and proud.
During Pride Week, the entire city lights up with parties and events leading up to the big day. The Houston Press has your guide to where to get your Pride on.
"I'm Beautiful Damn It! A Bette Midler Bash"
Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana bayoucityperformingarts.com
Kick off Pride Week with a performance honoring the one and only Bette Midler. The Gay Men's Chorus of Houston will be performing hits from Midler's extensive repertoire, featuring a Midler impersonator. Joining the chorus will be dancers from the Sam Houston State University Dance Department, Tye Blue and the Dream Girls, the finalist from Pride SuperStar and much more. 7:30 p.m.
2607 Grant St. babayega.com
If your Saturday somehow turned into Sunday, there's nothing better than a brunch throw-down. Baba Yega, nestled right off of Pride central, has got you covered with ready-made omelets, smoked ham and plenty of carbs to soak up the evening's celebration. The brunch buffet is just $21, and no one will make you feel bad if you go back for thirds.
"Salvation: A Pride Pool Party"
ROAK, 3320 Kirby
Whether you've been hitting the gym or not, it's pool-party time! Grab your favorite trunks and cannonball over to ROAK. The pool party takes place from noon to 5 p.m., with good tunes and plenty of Sunday-afternoon cocktails. A suggested donation of $25 gets you splashing around.
Draglive! And Proud
F Bar, 202 Tuam
Beginning at 10 p.m., local host extraordinaire Tye Blue will be at F Bar for a drag-umental evening of performance. The Dreamgirls will take the stage to perform beloved songs for everyone to sing along to. Free for those 21 and over.
"Rock the Runway"
South Beach, 810 Pacific St.
If beautiful people in high fashion sounds like your perfect evening out, sashay over to South Beach for the annual Pride Fashion Show. This year, the models will be donning threads from Aussie Bum, N2N, Paul Ferrer Texas, Skimpeez and more. The doors open at 8 p.m., with the runway rolling out at 9 p.m., which should give you just enough time to get some samplings of Ketel One, the party's sponsor. The event is free.
"Pride in the Park"
BBVA Compass Stadium, 2200 Texas
Facebook.com/pridehouston/events Pride Houston is swapping out rainbows for some orange! The Houston Dynamo are joining in on the week's festivities with a special Pride night at the soccer park and discounted tickets to the game. For $20, you can show your pride in one of the Endline seats and root your hometown team on. Discount code for the game is available on Houston Pride's Facebook page.
"Pride SuperStar Finale"
South Beach, 810 Pacific St.
The competition has been fierce, but the wait is finally over. For the past two months, 12 singers have been in an all-out battle of the voices for who will be crowned Pride SuperStar. Now in its sixth year, the event is Houston's version of American Idol. The winner will receive a host of prizes including studio time at the Grammy-winning Urbana Recording Studio, a cruise, cash and lots more. Additionally, the Pride SuperStar will be given the royal treatment at the Pride Festival with a spotlight performance for all of Houston to see. Come out to South Beach starting at 9 p.m. to see the finalists sing their hearts out.
Friday, June 22
Bayou Beau "Show and Tell"
F Bar, 202 Tuam
Your Pride weekend has officially begun. What better way to start the celebrations than by admiring some locally designed undergarments? F Bar turns into a catwalk for a display of dudes in their unmentionables. The runway gets heated up at 9 p.m. for this free event.
"Rainbow on the Green"
Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney
Discovery Green is the place to be Friday night from 8 to 10 p.m. The park plays host to a LGBT celebration featuring performances by a variety of singers, dancers and musicians. Entertainer Tye Blue hosts the evening's lineup, with artists such as Grammy Award winner Thelma Houston, Houston drag star KOFI, and American Idol season seven finalist Colton Berry, among others. Highlights of the show will be the Donna Summer medley and Whitney Houston tribute. Free.
South Beach, 810 Pacific St.
If seeing the boys at F Bar in their skivvies makes you want to try your hand at underwear modeling, South Beach is the place to be. The club is hosting the aptly named "Underwear Party," with clothing check available at the door. Well, it is an underwear party, after all. Cover is free before 11 p.m.; don't dress to impress.
Bayou Music Center, 520 Texas
This year marks the premiere of Pride Houston's circuit party, Wonderland. An evening of mystery and enchantment awaits you on the other side of the looking glass with Alice in Wonderland-themed rooms such as the Cheshire's Retreat. Partygoers will be entertained by a Cirque du Soleil-style aerial performance and a drag show. Of course there will be music, and legendary circuit party DJ Michael Tank will provide the beats. Doors open at 9 p.m., with tickets starting at $30 in advance.
602 Fairview, 713-522-4229
You're going to need to scope out your parade spot at some point, and you might as well enjoy brunch at Baby Barnaby's, which is right in the neighborhood. The breakfast menu is chock-full of über-healthy entrées such as egg whites, chicken sausage and dry toast. Barnaby's is the perfectly light way to start off your day of what will probably turn into — let's face it — an overabundance in the festivities department.
El Real has your Pride Parade seat waiting for you. For $25 you can have a front row spot on the outdoor patio. Bacardi will be on location from 6:30 to 8 p.m. with tasty samplings of new flavors Wolfberry and Black Razz. Of course, El Real menu of cool drinks will be available. Paying guests will receive a wristband for easy, come-and-go access. For more information or to reserve a space, give them a call at 713-524-1201.
"Huge After Party Extravaganza"
F Bar, 202 Tuam
Just because the parade has ended doesn't mean the party needs to stop. Head over to F Bar for its after-party blowout. Beginning at 7 p.m., DJ Tad Dvorak starts spinning for a night of dancing. If you can make it until midnight, the bar promises a very special surprise performance. Who could it be? Free for all those over 21.
Why squeeze your way through the crowds to get a good view of the parade when you can enjoy the sights from a comfortable seat on Nabi's patio? The neighborhood Japanese restaurant will have a DJ on the patio with plenty of good food and drinks to keep your spirits high.
Out & Equal's "Cool Down Lounge"
Yoakum at Westheimer
There's no denying that it's going to be hot, and eventually you'll need some refuge from the scorching sun. Out & Equal's air-conditioned Cool Down Lounge may turn out to be the most popular area of the festival. Out & Equal is inviting festival-goers to stop in and get cool for a spell. You will know it's their tent by the long lines of sweaty people waiting to get in.
South of Westheimer along Commonwealth and Yoakum
The celebration has finally arrived. The Pride Festival opens promptly at 1 p.m. and runs until 7 p.m. It's one of the country's largest and may see up to 60,000 participants showing their love. The festival plays host to more than 200 exhibitors, including local businesses, media partners, national organizations and much more. There's something for everyone, including the kids, as the Houston Dynamo will have a Kids' Zone. Celebrating Houston's pride is not just one big party, however. There's much to share about Houston's LGBT history, and patrons can get themselves educated at the Houston LGBT History Exhibit, which is being hosted by Rice University. The event features multiple stages set up for the day's varied entertainment. There's no entry fee to attend the festival, but donations are highly encouraged.
Pride Festival History Tent
Look for signs
Rice's Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality has teamed up with the Houston Area Rainbow Collective History to present a series of video interviews with prominent figures in the Houston LGBT community. The result is a look at Houston's gay past. The videos will be showcased at the Pride History Tent during the day's festivities.
Pride Houston's Official After Pride Parade Party
South Beach, 810 Pacific St.
Since you're already dressed and raring to go, South Beach is hosting a massive Pride Parade after-party. This celebration is known to be the largest after-Pride event in town and doesn't stop until the break of dawn — 5 a.m., to be exact. DJ Riley, who hails from Chicago, will be on hand playing all the tunes you love to shake your groove thing to. Tickets are available at the South Beach Web site.
Westheimer between Dunlavy and Crocker
Hopefully by this point you've already found yourself a good locale from which to watch the parade and you've got your fold-up chairs all ready to go. The parade, which officially begins at 8:15 p.m., is held along Westheimer between Dunlavy and Crocker. More than 100 organizations and businesses come out to play and support the LGBT community. Lines of brightly colored floats will take over the streets before a crowd of more than 300,000 spectators. The Pride Parade is the second-largest parade in H-town and the largest LGBT gathering in the Southwest. If you can make it there by 7:45 p.m., you'll be able to catch the parade pre-show, which takes place on Westheimer at Waugh. The parade is free for all, but if you're interested in stepping it up a notch, you can receive the special treatment by becoming a VIP. Visit the Web site for more information.
Etro, 1424 Westheimer
From 3 to 9 p.m., clubgoers' favorite Etro is showing its pride with a "Party On the Pride Patio." Hang out and kick back to the bumping tunes of the Groove Brothers, DJ Alex T and DJ Cue T. Free.
Rainbow Saturdays "Post Parade Party"
Escobar, 2905 Travis
On Saturday nights, Escobar transforms into "Rainbow Saturdays," a LGBT destination. To celebrate Pride, the club is hosting a post-parade shindig during the weekly event. Sarah Pepper from The HOT Show and Hot 95.7 will help ring in the festivities from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Escobar is also giving one lucky guest an amazing trip to NYC to see the lady Madonna herself in concert. Come on, let's celebrate...it would be so nice.
"SOAK Up the Pride Weekend Pool Party"
ROAK, 3320 Kirby Drive
It's sure to be hot out there, and ROAK is the spot to go to cool down and get your splash on during Pride weekend. From noon to 7 p.m., ROAK is serving up Houston's only Gay Pool Party, where everyone is welcome. For more information or to receive VIP access, text FUSE to 28748.
Just because the official Pride Week is over doesn't mean the love has to end. QFest 2012: The 16th Annual LGBTQ International Film Festival kicks off July 26-30. QFest is dedicated to showcasing select national and international films focusing on the assorted communities that make up LGBTQ culture. More than 22 films will be shown on varying screens across Houston. Highlights include Cloudburst, starring Olympia Dukakis; family favorite The Wiz, starring Michael Jackson; and a tribute to underground filmmaker George Kuchar. For dates and times, visit the Web site.
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