Our recent commentary article “Blood Was Shed on These Streets: It’s time to bring Pride home to Montrose,” drew a wide range of reactions. While there was no scientific poll to gauge agreement or disagreement with the opinion expressed in the column, most of the responses were in agreement — that Pride belongs in the part of the Bayou City where it began. These are some of the replies to the column:
“I think our sense of community needs it.”
Vince Smith: “I could not agree with you more. The Gay Pride Parade needs to be where it all began. I understand the corporate thinking of those that wanted to move it downtown and make it a “Houston Event” — make it a touristy thing, more parking, etc. But it has completely lost its connection to the community and, frankly, is just not enjoyable anymore — being surrounded by concrete towers, and concrete radiating heat.
“I’ve only been a resident of Houston for 20 or so years, and I’ve seen the changes going on in Montrose — the loss of lots of bookstores (Crossroads, Lobo’s), bars (Mary’s, Mining Company, Pacific Street, dance clubs). However it is still the historic home of the movement, the location of Legacy Community Health and the Montrose Counseling Center which are the bedrocks of the LGBTQ resource community and many, many LGBTQ folks living in the area.
“I live on the outskirts of Houston towards Pearland (45s/Beltway) but I still go into Montrose weekly just to eat dinner, hang out with friends, take advantage of resources at MCC, or just feel a sense of connection with the “gay area” of town. I’ve had many good memories of grabbing an outdoor table at Empire Cafe and eating dinner and grabbing a drink right before the parade would start — easy access and fun friendly neighborhood people. It’s the event that celebrates our community.
“I know if it’s possible — or would have insurmountable pushback from the powers that be, but I don’t see why they can’t have two Pride festivals on different dates. Los Angeles (where I’m from) has several Pride festivals in the area. If Pride Houston Inc. is more focused on downtown and the commercial real estate people trying to push downtown livability (I still think Discovery Green is a joke), maybe it’s time to look at a Montrose Pride organization that is devoted to celebrating the uniqueness and gay history of Montrose itself — on Westheimer/Montrose like it used to be. I think our sense of community needs it.”
Smith later added, “I was thinking about how important a center of identity is to our community. I was living in the Galleria when Matthew Shepard died and I was outraged and heartbroken and needed a place to show my solidarity. I was drawn to Montrose because I considered it to be the center of our identity here in Houston and, sure enough, at Westheimer and Montrose a makeshift memorial was set up in the median with candles and flowers. Even Annise Parker was there (though I did not know her at the time). It was just a place to be — a place to grieve, a place to feel the many emotions of anger, heartache, and pain for this young man so brutalized in another state. It had to be Montrose — it couldn’t be anywhere else.”
Jovon Alfon B. Tyler: “The parade will likely never return to Montrose but I do miss it here. I’m not excited to attend the parade downtown. I don’t plan on attending this year!”
Jonathan Casanova de Bosquez: “Houston Pride in Montrose has always been the home of Gay Pride.”
(From observation): “If we are honest, Pride-goers (not all) aren’t very respectful or clean to the surrounding neighborhood streets. And, the Pride-goers (not all) can be destructive to personal home property. So, I don’t know. If the organization is willing to come up with funding for additional cleanup efforts, then it needs to come back to Montrose.”
Time to move on
Bradley David Janacek: “I 100 percent disagree. I think we should celebrate our wins instead of holding on to the past. The LGBTQIA community has always been one of being forward thinkers, innovators, always adapting, and embracing change. Instead of going back to the past we need to find a way to commemorate it.
But it’s almost impossible because the older Queer generation will not talk about or invest hardly any money into our history. Why is it we still don’t have a physical museum? I’m 33 and I remember the fun I had in Montrose but times change and so have I. The 18 y/o’s don’t care because they weren’t around and aren’t going to fight that fight. This is a dated point of view and it’s time to move on, because the majority already has.”
Jack Valinski: “As the founder of Pride Houston, the city will not allow the Parade to move back and there is no place to hold a festival in Montrose.”