June is pride month, and this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, often regarded as the tipping point in the modern gay rights movement. The Houston Press met with members of the LGBTQ+ community to learn more about their experiences as being part of this group. These are their stories.
Ah, the age old story. Boy meets
girl boy. Boy falls in love with girl boy. Boy proposes to girl boy, and they both live happily ever after. Move over Richard Gere — this is the updated version of "An Officer and a Gentleman" just told slightly differently than the 1982 film.
The pronouns might be a little surprising at first, but Pete Alvarado (the officer) and Gerald Floyd, Jr. (the gentleman) swear on their lives they're just like every other couple. They have bills they wish would disappear, they sometimes get into the occasional lovers' quarrel, yet their love and respect for each other is unparalleled. Just your average, everyday couple.
Both have dedicated their lives to living transparently, and their relationship is an extension of that belief, especially during June, aka Pride month.
"For me, pride means living your authentic self...living your complete truth without any judgment. Just being in your skin and being who you are as an individual," Floyd, Jr. said.
Both should know what that feeling is. They were reminded of it this summer when they visited Floyd, Jr.'s family in Chicago. It was a symbolic gesture of gaining the family's blessing for the couple's upcoming nuptials. The family happily accepted the relationship, but they both remember a time when acceptance wasn't as common.
"It's more acceptable from our generation down. From the '60s and before, it wasn't the same thing. Being gay was still happening...it just wasn't accepted. Even with my mother, I've always been told, be who you want to be, but you need to understand the ramifications from society," Alvarado said.
Even then, as much as society has progressed, the stereotypes still exist, although perhaps not as much as first thought.
"My experience with stereotypes is I think they’ve lessened. They’re not negative anymore. People look up to the gay culture because of the camaraderie and close knit acceptance of all. We have good fashion, fitness, and we take care of ourselves. We’re concerned about each other as a whole," Alvarado said.
For Alvarado, a senior public safety professional and an honorably retired Army veteran, it's all about following protocol. Sometimes the occasional question come up about what is considered acceptable, but he keeps his cool.
"I’ve never run into a situation with the military or my professional career. I don’t push it onto people. They figure it out. They look at what I provide through leadership and function. It’s what I can perform versus what I do at home," he said. "Gerald is openly gay, and that’s one of the qualities he wants in a company, and he doesn’t want to be pushed a certain way. What I’ve always done is I put up a picture of me and him and a picture of me and my mother. People figure it out. So, I’ve never had a difficult time accepting myself or telling people who I am. It's what can I bring to the table versus who’s at home with me. I portray myself as who I am."
People don't always have to wear their emotions, but these two have found a knack for it, and they make it look good. Alvarado wears his heart on his badged sleeve as a testament to his service to the country. Floyd, Jr. wears his pride like the proverbial feather in his cap.
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"Gerald wears his Montrose hats. He wears them anywhere and everywhere. People always compliment him on the hats," Alvarado said, and he occasionally takes after his partner. "Even at work, I sometimes wear a hat. It has the thin blue line across the word 'Pride' and the rainbow flag on the side," Alvarado said.
The couple, who first started dating in May 2013, plan to celebrate another year of pride in style, hats included.
"It's all about inclusion and acceptance. It gives the opportunity for recognition of not just the gay community, but it brings the whole community together. I think it’s an opportunity to celebrate and recognize the gay community, but we’re inclusive. It gives us the opportunity during this month to recognize where we came from and what we have to offer," Alvarado said. "That’s what pride does. It enables people to be comfortable. If people are still in the closet, it gives them the opportunity to see how gay people live and celebrate who they are. There are so many different types of individuals, and it’s so unique."
To learn more about Pride Houston, visit pridehouston.org.