Commentary: As another year comes to a close, let’s take a look back at 2019 and some of the most talk about stories on the Houston Rainbow Herald’s Facebook page.
The new make-up of Congress promises to hold President Donald Trump accountable and many of those newbies come from the LGBTQ community. “A historic number of openly gay and bisexual lawmakers on Thursday were sworn in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate at the start of the 116th Congress,” reported Washington Blade.com.
A record ten LGBTQ people were sworn in on January 3; eight will serve in the House and two will serve in the Senate. Vice President Mike Pence in his role as president of the Senate swore in the two Senators, Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).
Mary’s Alibi, the gay bar located at 2409 Grant Avenue, shuttered in February. It was basically Bayou City with a facelift, and a bad one, at that. The bar fundamentally did nothing to distinguish itself from its former unsuccessful incarnation.
Many friends who frequented the bar complained of a boring atmosphere, over-priced watered down drinks and rude staff. With so many other choices, anyone of those complaints could be the death knell of a bar. Mary’s Alibi never gained traction as a Montrose destination.
In what was one of our most-read stories of 2019, it was revealed that a Houston Drag performer had been a participant in Drag Queen Storytime in 2018. The program, sponsored by the Houston Public Library, drew criticism from a right-wing group called Mass Resistance who called for its cancellation, making inflammatory claims against the event and its performers.
Reports disclosed that HPL did not complete background checks on the performers. If a thorough background check had been completed it would have revealed that one of the performers was a registered sex offender, convicted in 2008 of sexually assaulting an 8-year-old boy.
Houston Public Library issued this statement: “We were made aware today that one participant for Drag Queen Storytime who read on September 29, 2018, Drag Queen Storytime has a criminal background that should have prevented him from participating in the program. Every program sponsored by HPL is supervised by HPL staff, and all children are accompanied by a parent and/or guardian. No participant is ever alone with children, and we have not received any complaints about any inappropriate behavior by participants at Storytimes.”
The performer did not disclose the conviction to the library prior to performing.
Plano Republican Matt Shaheen filed House Bill 1705. The Texas Barber and Cosmetology Abolishment bill would have deemed licenses in those two fields would no longer be recognized nor required in the state of Texas.
HB 1705 directly affected a large portion of the LGBTQ community. Not to stereotype, but when is the last time you met a straight male hairstylist? A large number of makeup artists are part of our community, as well.
These professionals have spent countless hours studying and perfecting their craft. Barbering and cosmetology education consists of learning about the anatomy and physiology of hair, skin, and nails, chemistry, ecology, trichology, and more.
Ultimately, the bill failed. Licenses are still required.
In another highly read commentary, we called for Pride to return to its roots in Montrose. The final piece of the article reads: “Then on October 1, 2014, the Pride Houston Board of Directors announced that the Pride Parade and festival would move to a new location in Downtown Houston for June 27, 2015. Houston’s Pride Parade left Montrose, the quaint neighborhood where gays fought and died for acceptance. Where blood was literally shed on its streets by LGBTQ individuals in search of a place to be true to one’s self.
“With the move to downtown, Pride lost its sense of community. Though Houston’s LGBTQ community is much more scattered than it was in 1979, Montrose is still home to a large number of gay businesses and bars. It’s time for Houston to bring Pride back home. Back to Montrose where it started. Back to the quaint neighborhood where the first parades were held, when it took courage just to attend.
“Houston’s LGBTQ community figured out how to combat fears of being out on television, gay bashings, and even the heat and humidity. Let’s figure out how to pay homage to those who sacrificed their blood, sweat, and tears and bring Pride back home to its roots, Montrose.”
Pride is not confined to The Bayou City. June saw Galveston celebrate by installing a rainbow crosswalk.
Like an expensive bottle of champagne striking the bow of a luxury cruise liner, Galveston’s LGBTQ community kicked off Pride weekend with a dedication ceremony of a rainbow crosswalk. A large enthusiastic crowd congregated in front of City Hall on June 7 for the ceremony as David Collins, City Councilman District 3, welcomed a diverse troop of islanders.
Collins spoke of how Galveston prides itself on being a diverse and welcoming city and, as a decision was being made about where to put the crosswalk, it was suggested putting it where everyone will see it. So it was recommended, “Let’s put it at City Hall!”
Galveston’s City Hall sits on 25th Street, the most traveled corridor between Broadway Street and The Strand.