It's time to dig through your closet, tear apart your attic or hit the thrift stores. Pride is here and this year, your everyday clothes just aren't going to cut it. This year Pride Houston is getting decked to the nines Carnivale style. That's right: feathers, costumes and more. It's 2014, and Pride is making its biggest splash yet!
Looking for where you can get your pride on this year? Look no further; the Houston Press has got your complete guide to the wheres and whats of Houston Pride Week.
NOT JUST A PIECE OF PAPER
With gay marriage come legitimacy and new perspectives.
The Pearl Lounge, 4216 Washington
Eagle, 611 Hyde Park
The Morty Rich Hostel, 501 Lovett Boulevard
F Bar, 202 Tuam
Gratifi Kitchen and Bar, 302 Fairview
South Beach, 810 Pacific
Crocker Bar, 2312 Crocker
707 23rd, Galveston
South Beach, 810 Pacific
Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney
South Beach, 810 Pacific
Westheimer and Yoakum
Westheimer between Dunlavy and Crocker
South Beach, 810 Pacific
F Bar, 202 Tuam
South Beach, 810 Pacific
F Bar, 202 Tuam
Last month, Massachusetts celebrated its ten-year anniversary as the first state in the country to legally recognize same-sex marriage. That monumental decision didn't immediately open the floodgates for other states to follow suit, however. If you plot the trajectory of gay-marriage rulings on a graph, you would think you were looking at this year's Houston Rockets results — some wins, some losses, big wins, bigger losses.
Then last year, on June 26, the downward trend turned around completely with the Supreme Court's rejection of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), in which it ruled that couples married in states that acknowledge same-sex marriage may receive federal benefits. From that point on, state-by-state recognition of gay marriage has snowballed. It seems as if every other day, yet another state is legally affirming same-sex marriage. In the past two months, federal judges have struck down bans on same-sex marriage in states such as Arkansas, Idaho, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Illinois and most recently Wisconsin.
Texas, however, is not there yet, but the tide may be turning. Two couples currently challenging the state's refusal to recognize their marriages have already won the first round in a federal court in San Antonio. Additionally, a poll done through Texas Tech University in April found that Texas is split evenly on the concept of gay marriage. In past polls, fewer than 40 percent of the state's residents believed in marriage equality, and in these recent findings, 48 percent are in favor.
Through the media's coverage of facts and figures, bans and appeals, and legalese, so often the "heart" of the matter is lost. While same-sex marriage is at its core about human rights, it's also about love and legitimacy. Many Houston couples are discovering this for themselves as they travel to other states to take their vows.
Trevor Eade and Stephen Hill married in November 2013 in California. Eade's circumstances are a bit different from the norm. He is originally from the UK and came to Houston on a work visa. He met Hill, a California native who had been living in Houston since 2000, at a bar and the two fell in love immediately.
"We had our first date at the original Barnaby's," Eade says, "and a year later, we moved in together."
While their relationship may have been fairy-tale-esque, they found their situation riddled with complications. The biggest issue arose in 2011 when Eade was diagnosed with brain cancer.
If the two had been married, legalities such as power of attorney, right of survivorship and family hospital visitation privileges would have come with the territory. Even a common-law marriage, which in the state of Texas is as simple as a couple agreeing that they are married, telling others that they are married, and living together, would have lightened the legal burdens for Eade and Hill. But as two gay men living together in a committed relationship, they had no recourse. Additionally, there were other matters to contend with such as Eade's immigration status and the fact that he wasn't eligible for disability benefits, which, if the two had been in a legal union, would not have been a problem.
"We had less than a week to get all of this paperwork together," says Hill. After Eade recovered, he proposed to Hill.
"When you are diagnosed with cancer," Eade says softly, "it puts everything into perspective."
The couple was married in San Diego after the DOMA ruling, and both men say it was the most "unbelievable lifetime event."
"I didn't think that it would feel different at all," says Hill of their nuptials, "but it did. It's such a validation."
Both men state that after their wedding, they felt a deeper connection. While it didn't change the way they felt about each other per se, it did affect how other people now view the couple — that they are able to call each other "husband" as opposed to "partner" — and that has made a difference in their relationship.
Eade and Hill are certainly not the only committed same-sex couple to find some validation through marriage. Houston's mayor, Annise Parker, made national news when she wed her longtime partner, Kathy Hubbard, in California earlier this year. While Parker says marriage is a "wonderful feeling," she, too, believes her relationship is more than just a legal document.
"I am so happy to have been able to finally tie the knot with the woman I have loved for more than two decades," Parker says. "However, that piece of paper has not changed our relationship."
Tony Carroll and Bruce Smith, another couple whose names are synonymous with LGBT politics, are as familiar with Parker's politics as they are with her marriage. The two worked tirelessly to get her elected and were also guests at her Houston wedding reception.
Carroll, a psychotherapist, and Smith, a dentist, have been public figures in Houston's LGBT community for decades.
Politically, the couple is a powerhouse in Houston and beyond, having been an integral part of just about every LGBT issue from AIDS to philanthropy to advocacy. They're working to help get LGBT teens off the streets and into homes through the Association for Family and Community Integrity.
When they got married in 2003 in Toronto, and then again in New York in 2011, Carroll and Smith hoped that the legitimacy would help what they were trying to do, but what they didn't realize was that it would also profoundly change them as a couple.
"We thought that getting married was a great opportunity to make a political statement," Smith says. "What I didn't expect, though," he continues, "was the emotional impact it had on me."
Carroll and Smith say that they always knew they would be together "forever," but there's something different now, including acceptance, which has reduced some of the "social shame."
"We are so incredibly grateful for this," Carroll says, referring not just to their relationship but to how they have been able to aid the LGBT community. "Then, to make it legitimate...it's the icing on the cake."
But as positive as the trajectory of acceptance has been lately, there's still a long road ahead.
"The barriers to gay marriage are falling all across the nation," says Parker. "I know it is just a matter of time before it will be legal in every state. For the sake of those who are still waiting, I hope that time comes sooner rather than later."
Given the snowball effect at the state level, Carroll also believes that it's just a matter of time. But he warns that there's still a lot of work to be done politically and socially.
"The most important thing is that we don't become complacent and think it's over," he says.
Eade and Hill agree and have made it their own mission to keep teaching those around them through their own advocacy, the annual "Tie the Knot" social-media campaign, in which people around the country take pictures of themselves in bowties in support of marriage equality and also to educate others on a personal level.
"We are just like anybody else living with the same struggles," Eade reflects. "We are just doing it from a slightly different perspective."
Same-Sex Marriage in the United States :
September 21, 1996 —President Bill Clintonsigns the Defense of Marriage Act banning federal recognition of same-sex marriage and defining marriage as "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife."
February 12-March 11, 2004 —Nearly 4,000 same-sex couples get marriage licenses in San Francisco.
May 17, 2004—Massachusetts legalizes same-sex marriage, the first state in the U.S. to do so.
January 20, 2006 —A Maryland judge rules that the state's law defining marriage is unconstitutional.
May 15, 2008 —The California Supreme Court rules that the state's ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. The decision goes into effect on June 16 at 5:01 p.m.
November 12, 2008—Same-sex marriage becomes legal in Connecticut.
April 27, 2009—Same-sex marriage becomes legal in Iowa.
May 6, 2009 —Same-sex marriage becomes legal in Maine.
May 6, 2009 —New Hampshire lawmakers pass a same-sex marriage bill.
June 17, 2009 —President Barack Obamasigns a memorandum granting some benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.
July 7, 2009 —A new District of Columbia law recognizes same-sex marriages performed in any of the 50 states.
September 1, 2009—Same-sex marriage becomes legal in Vermont.
June 24, 2011 —The New York Senate votes to legalize same-sex marriage.
January 1, 2012 —Civil unions become legal in Hawaii.
February 13, 2012 —Same-sex marriage is signed into law in Washington.
February 13, 2012 —The New Jersey state Senate passes a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.
January 1, 2013 —Maryland begins issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
February 14, 2013 —The Illinois Senate votes to legalize same-sex marriage.
March 12, 2013—Colorado lawmakers pass legislation to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples.
May 7, 2013 —Delaware legalizes same-sex marriage.It goes into effect in July.
June 26, 2013 —The U.S. Supreme Courtrejects parts of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), ruling that same-sex spouses legally married in a state may receive federal benefits.
August 1, 2013 —Laws inRhode Island and Minnesotaare passed to legalize same-sex marriage.
December 2, 2013 —Hawaii passes a law to legalize same-sex marriages.
December 19, 2013 —The New Mexico Supreme Court unanimously rules to allow same-sex marriage statewide.
December 20, 2013 —A federal judge in Utah declares the state ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.
February 12, 2014 — Kentucky's denial of recognition for valid same-sex marriages violates the United States Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law, a judge says.
February 13, 2014 —A U.S. district judge strikes down Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage.
May 16, 2014 —The Arkansas State Supreme Court issues an emergency stayas its judges consider the appeal to the state judge's ruling for same-sex marriage.
May 19, 2014 —A federal judge strikes down Oregon's ban on same-sex marriage.
May 20, 2014 —A U.S. district judge strikes down Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage.
June 1, 2014—Same-sex marriage becomes legal in Illinois.
June 6, 2014 —A Wisconsin federal judge strikes down the state's same-sex marriage ban.
Friday, June 20
Eden: A Pride Girl Party
Ladies, did you love the Eden party last year? It's back! For the second year in a row, Pride celebrates the women of the community with a girl party. But of course guys are welcome to join in the fun. A $5 donation will be collected at the door and the proceeds will be donated to the Lesbian Health Initiative (LHI), a local women's charity.
Saturday, June 21
Want to show off your Pride threads before the big weekend? Swing by Pride Unleashed. The craziest outfits will be on display at this free event that kicks off at 9 p.m.
Sunday, June 22
"Salvation: A Pride Pool Party"
You know it's going to be a hot one, so why not cool down with Pride's official pool party. Dress in your tiniest bikini and party in the pool to the tunes of DJ Chris Zane. For a $25 donation, you get free bites and an open bar, plus the proceeds go toward keeping Pride free for all. Party starts at 1 p.m.
Houston Pride Band Silent Auction
Help the Houston Pride Band raise funds for some new risers while enjoying happy hour cocktails and snacks by Randall Jobe. While you peruse the auction items, which include a "Best of Houston Restaurants" package, Saint Arnold gift pack, concert tickets and more, enjoy the sweet sounds of SaxWorks, the HPB's sax quartet. Free event.
Monday, June 23
"Dine With Pride"
You have to eat, right? You might as well eat while supporting the cause at this official Pride Houston event. Munch on amazing samples of Gratifi's home-style eats and drinks. The eating begins at 10 a.m.
Queer Voices Radio
Every Monday evening from 8 to 9, KPFT hosts Queer Voices, a show dedicated to all the news concerning Houston's LGBT community. Tune in to find out how they'll be celebrating Pride.
Tuesday, June 24
"Rock the Runway"
This year's Rock the Runway fashion event is going to be bigger and sexier than last year's. You're going to want to sit front and center to check out all the latest fashions from top to bottom and everywhere in between. The catwalk opens at 8 p.m. for this free event.
Wednesday, June 25
Pride Houston Happy Hour
Get over hump day at the official Pride Happy Hour. The good times start at 5 p.m., and what's really sweet is, there's no door fee.
Thursday, June 26
Gulf Pride for Youth Weeky Meeting
This support group for young GLBTIQA ages 13–20 meets every week for open discussions on all things concerning being a part of the gay community. Always free and confidential. 6–9 p.m.
Pride Superstar Competition: Finale
The wait is over. After several weeks of contestants belting out the hits, the Pride Superstar Competition is finally coming to a close. Who will be this year's Pride Superstar? That's up to the audience to decide. Find out for yourself alongside host Chad Pitt from Mix 96.5. The show starts at 9:30 p.m. and is free.
Friday, June 27
"Rainbow on the Green"
You won't want to miss the citywide celebration at Discovery Green. This year's annual event will be hosted by Chad Pitt from Mix 96.5 and feature the musical stylings of American Idol Season 6 runner-up Blake Lewis, plus many more. Bring your own snacks; drinks will be available for purchase at this free event. The fun starts at 7 p.m.
It's about time to shimmy your way into a Winter Wonderland at Houston's only circuit party. This year the other side of the looking glass party-goers will find a laser light show, fog and even snow. Spinning the tunes will be DJ Brandon Moses. Tickets go for $40, and all proceeds will go to Bunnies on the Bayou.
Saturday, June 28
For 36 years, Houston has been celebrating the Pride Festival, and it grows each year. This year festival organizers expect more than 325,000, so make sure you get to the festivities early. Enjoy the booths and entertainment with sponsors such as Bud Light, Chipotle, Barefoot Wines and OutSmart Magazine as you support the LGBT community. Don't forget to dress carnivale-style! The festival opens promptly at 1 p.m. and runs until 7 p.m. Free.
As the festival winds down, you and 400,000 of your closest friends will be looking to grab a seat along Westheimer between Dunlavy and Montrose for the 36th Annual Pride Parade. The parade, which officially begins at 8:15 p.m., will feature 100-plus organizations and businesses showing off their pride with elaborate floats and costumed marching. If you can make it there by 7:30 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 consider yourself a Very Important Person, look into the "Friends of Pride" VIP experience. Visit the website for more information.
PrideHouston's Official After Pride Parade Party
It ain't over till it's over, and after the parade, the night will still be young. Head to Pride's official after-party at South Beach to continue your carnivale-esque hijinks. It will be hot, but luckily South Beach is equipped with Liquid Ice Jets to keep you from sweating all over your feather headdress. 10 p.m.–3 a.m. For tickets, visit South Beach's website.
F Bar's After Parade Party
DJ Tad Dvorak will be handling the tunes for your dancing and listening pleasure at F Bar's massive after-parade shindig. Doors open at 8 p.m., but get there by midnight for a spotlight performance by drag queen extraordinaire ALASKA. Free before 10 p.m., $10 after.
Sunday, June 29
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Rapture: A Pride Foam Party
There's nothing dirty about a foam party, or is there? Close out your week of fun with the official Pride Foam and Closing party. Don't wear your Sunday best, because you're going to get messy. The suds start at 10 p.m. Visit website for ticket information.
Get some more of F Bar's ALASKA show during its weekly F Divas show, special for Pride. DJ Joe Ross spins, with doors opening at 5 p.m. Free before 9 p.m.; $10 after.