The Woodlands, Texas, an affluent township north of Houston, is getting its very own Pride celebration and they sat down to talk to About Magazine about it first.
If you’re a native of Houston, or if you’ve been a transplant long enough to have made your rounds in and out of the metropolitan area, you probably are at least somewhat familiar with the Woodlands. Located just 30 miles from Downtown Houston, The Woodlands has been around since 1974, when oil industry investor George P. Mitchell (yes, that’s right, husband of Cynthia Woods Mitchell, the namesake of the performance pavilion) attended a conference on developing HUD Title VII towns. For Millennials who grew up in Houston and its surrounding areas, The Woodlands was sort of an escapist township – the place with the lake that had its very own animatronic monster, the place with the giant mall that had the carousel. But in the last ten years, the Woodlands has seen a boom not only in business, but in infrastructure, population, and net worth.
The Woodlands now serves as a sort of city of its own. Recently, the township has introduced new dining and shopping establishments along the coast of Lake Woodlands, introduced its very own San Antonio-esque waterway (which is still growing in terms of business), and countless new residences throughout its 43.9 sq mi spread. Spreading from the Sawdust Rd. area all the way up to Research Forest, The Woodlands is only growing continuously. And while the residents are majority Christian, right-wingers, that isn’t stopping the newly founded The Woodlands Pride (TWP) from setting up shop to the LGBTQIA community, which will be hosted on September 8th, 2018
About Magazine has the lucky fortune of running the first interview with TWP’s director of public relations, Ryan Elkins.
About Magazine: What brought about the idea to give The Woodlands its own Pride, and who came up with it?
The idea was brought up by Jason Rocha, our CEO. After a walk along the waterway, where he envisioned a Pride event, he began to make some calls and reach out to community activists in The Woodlands and surrounding areas about forming a committee to organize a Pride Festival.
With The Woodlands being a community of diversity and welcoming to people from all walks of life, The Woodlands is [now] ready and has been ready for quite some time for an event like this. [It’s] a festival to show unity, love, and support for the LGBTQIA community. The Woodlands has never given our community a fair opportunity, mostly due to the fact that the LGBTQIA community has never been presented with an event like this in the area. So we are excited to show our support for The Woodlands and surrounding areas, as we know they feel the same about us.
What can we expect from TWP? Will it be different from Pride Houston?
You can expect TWP to be different than any other pride; just as no pride event in any community is the same. We often attend Pride Houston and other events, so we hope our friends and allies in the Greater Houston Area will come and support us!
The Woodlands is a pretty conservative area of town. Are you all worried there may be some backlash from those in the community?
We are only focused on the positive and our mission. To connect, celebrate, educate and foster relationships in the LGBTQIA community while promoting equality, unity, and love in The Woodlands and beyond. We love our community. That’s why we’re here. We are looking forward to contribute and enhance why The Woodlands is so special.
What is TWP most excited about for this event?
TWP is most excited about organizing the first Pride Festival in The Woodlands! This is just the beginning of many great things to come not only for The Woodlands and surrounding areas, but for the LGBTQIA community as a whole.
I used to live in the Woodlands off Research and can attest to the fact that it feels like its own little city (and has been reported to be the fastest-growing city in the United States). Do you think that the expansion and constant growth of the Woodlands marks it time to establish your own Pride?
Absolutely. With the constant growth of The Woodlands, and the diversity of people moving here from all types of backgrounds, 2018 is the year to establish our own Pride. So, why not now?
Do you think that in years to come you’ll continue to celebrate TWP in September? What made September feel like the right time?
More than likely, we will celebrate The Woodlands Pride in September moving forward. We want to respect our neighbors to the south, Pride Houston, as well as hope for slightly cooler weather.
In the past, society has set a date or month to celebrate Pride when our community was tolerated. But now that we are accepted, everyday is Pride day!
“We are only focused on the positive and our mission. To connect, celebrate, educate and foster relationships in the LGBTQIA community while promoting equality, unity, and love in The Woodlands and beyond.”
Tell me about the team at TWP. Who should we be thanking for making all of this come to life? Are some of you new to working for Pride orgs, or are some of you seasoned in it?
TWP has an incredible group of individuals on our board of directors, and this is truly a group effort!
We have two political activists that both previously ran for office, two veteran board members for other pride organizations, and other local leaders.
Everyone brings their own strengths and valuable experience to the table that is going to make our Pride Festival on September 8th a huge success.
Who we should be thanking is The Woodlands and surrounding areas for expressing their love and support. This is a celebration for the LGBTQIA and our allies.
Are there any important details that we should know about? Dates, times, etc.?
Yes, save the date! The Woodlands Pride Festival will be on September 8th, 2018! We are still working on the minor details such as the time, before and after events, as well as fundraisers. But to receive the latest updates, follow us at ‘The Woodlands Pride’ on Facebook and Instagram. As well as @WoodlandsPride on Twitter and Snapchat.
You can RSVP to TWP on Facebook here.