Major cities like New York and Toronto often steal the spotlight for Pride festivals in June, but that certainly doesn’t mean they’re the only ones worth going to. What probably wouldn’t be on a lot of people’s radar to go to instead would be a Pride weekend in Texas. I love showcasing the less expected/known celebrations in our community around the world so I went ahead and chose Houston as my destination for Pride month! Here’s what I found:
- A Big Parade Later in the Day
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States and so it’s no stranger to hosting big events. Its annual Pride parade, now in its 45th year, is a testament to that. The parade stretches for hours (into the evening, which is great for the hot weather) featuring a dazzling array of floats, marchers, politicians, businesses, and of course drag artists. The sight of people dressed up, waving flags, and celebrating from along the route shows what a strong (and supported) LGBTQ+ community there is.
- Surprisingly Positive Vibes:
Contrary to expectations, the Houston Pride parade is a remarkably inclusive and positive experience (at least for me). Although you might anticipate protests or demonstrations against the LGBTQ+ community, the reality during my weekend there was quite the opposite. I definitely noticed an absence of negativity, with only one guy discussing religious matters on a corner (without any apparent anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment mind you). This overwhelmingly positive environment speaks to the city’s open-mindedness and acceptance.
- An After-Party in an Iconic Building
Following the parade, the festivities continued for me with an after-party at the historic Post Office building, aptly named POST. This dance party rave (with a Super Mario theme) filled up gradually until midnight and then was quite packed after that. There was definitely an energetic atmosphere that enticed attendees to dance the night away.
- Pride Recovery Brunch:
To keep the party going (or more so, wind it down) I went to the Pride Recovery Brunch at the upscale Heights Social. The event was in a stunning venue (with an impressive chandelier) and attendees were treated to an array of delectable food while being entertained by a talented drag queen. She had a bunch of costume changes while we had a bunch of food and drinks to choose from.
- The Bar Scene in the Gayborhood:
Houston’s Montrose area is renowned for its LGBTQ-friendly bars and I was impressed with how many there were to choose from. The proximity of these clubs within walking distance of each other, with no cover charges, were both big bonuses for a night out during Pride weekend. I enjoyed the diverse entertainment, dancing, and observing the eclectic mix of people who make these venues come alive.
- Unexpected Tolerance and Acceptance:
Houston’s Pride celebrations defy stereotypes associated with Texas. As a large and progressive city, Houston clearly embraces diversity, fostering an atmosphere of acceptance and support for the LGBTQ+ community. While the state of Texas in general faces some challenges in terms of LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance, Houston stands out as a special haven where the community thrives.
Houston Pride really surprised me and I’m glad that I was able to experience it. Beyond just in the context of being in Texas, it really stood out to me as a major Pride event to compete with many of the more well-known ones. The city’s commitment to inclusivity, exemplified through its big parade, vibrant after-parties, engaging brunches, and LGBTQ+-friendly bar scene, is a testament to the progress made by the LGBTQ+ community there. Let’s hope it can influence more areas around it to be as open and welcoming as they are, during Pride and year-round!
This experience was provided by Visit Houston. They had no input on my writing, all thoughts are my own.