The more than 400,000 people who turned out in Montrose Saturday for Houston’s 35th annual Pride Festival and Parade Saturday had much to celebrate.
Fresh off the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act that denied any federal benefits to gay or lesbian couples, deemed California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional and allowed same-sex marriages to resume immediately, crowds showed up waving rainbow- colored flags and wearing T-shirts celebrating the court ruling.
“That’s how amazing this past decision was,” said Frankie Quijano, CEO and president of Pride Houston. “This year, above all years, is definitely a time to celebrate because we’ve worked so hard as a community to get equal treatment.”
Darrin Brindle and his partner, Mark Eggleston, were legally wed in California when the state first began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2008. They say the landmark decision was a reason to celebrate, but it’s just a “stepping stone” on the journey to equal rights and acceptance for the LGBT community.
Cheers and kisses
“It was a lot of hugging and kissing going on,” said Brindle, who watched at home as the decision was announced on Wednesday. “There was just a lot of joy and there was also a lot of hope for the future.”
Food trucks and tents lined Westheimer Road between Dunlavy and Montrose in the early afternoon to prepare for the pride celebration. The summer heat was intense – temperatures soaring well above 100 degrees – but it didn’t stop people from arriving early to claim the best spots to watch the parade that started later in the night.
“Pride Unleashed” was this year’s official theme, and some couples chose to display their pride in front of protesters who showed up with signs declaring homosexuality a sin. One couple stopped right in front of the demonstrators to kiss, drawing cheers from the crowd across the street.
Hope for Texas’ future
“It’s almost like a joke that those people would even show up,” Eggleston said of the protesters. “But that’s what they choose to do despite the growing support we get.”
Thirteen states currently recognize legal same-sex marriage, but the decision has little impact on the second largest state in the nation.
“I would love to see Texans open up their minds a little more and be more accepting,” Ronny Adriansyah said in response to whether same-sex marriages would ever be legal in Texas.
“You can’t prevent people from falling in love and they’re going to want to get married,” said Adriansyah, “because … that’s one of the basic needs of all human beings.”