Q&A With CEO of Pride Houston Frankie Quijano
By Michael Hardy
Houston Pride Week runs from June 19 to 26. For a full events calendar, visit pridehouston.org.
What is the significance of Pride Week this year coming so close after the tragedy in Orlando?It was definitely a tragic incident that happened in Orlando, and it reminds us why we do what we do, and why we have Pride, which is to celebrate our culture, our lives.
What are the events this year that you’re most excited about?We have a whole bunch of events. We have Eden, a party for the women in our community. We have Pride Superstar, which has been running for several weeks now; we’ll crown a winner this week. This is that event’s tenth season. We have our Rock the Runway fashion show. The one I’m most excited about, obviously, is our all-day Houston LGBT Pride Celebration on June 25th that culminates with the Pride Parade downtown.
Last year the Pride Parade moved from Montrose to downtown Houston. How is that move working out so far? Last year we had the Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage, which obviously helped our attendance. And even though we had the tragedy in Orlando, we’re expecting a big turnout this year as well. What we’re seeing is an outpouring of individuals going, ‘You know, I wasn’t planning on coming, but after this past Sunday we need to unite.’ So I think this is going to be our biggest Pride ever. We’re definitely going to break last year’s record.
What will that say about the community’s resilience and unity in the wake of tragedy? Quite simply, that we won’t let fear control us anymore. We’ve come too far in our fight for equality to just go back in the closet. We’re going to keep going, we’re going to fight on, and we’re going to continue being proud of who we are.
Even though the parade’s downtown, most of Pride Week’s other events will be held in Montrose. How important is the neighborhood to the LGBT community here? Montrose will always be the heart of our community. But the community isn’t just in one specific area anymore, it’s all over. We have people in Montrose, we have people in the suburbs. We’re spread out all over. So home is wherever we are.
Even if many LGBT people live elsewhere, what is it about Montrose that draws them back? Well, a good concentration of the nightclubs and bars that we like to go to are here. We have some on the outskirts as well, but most of them are here. We have George’s, we have JR’s, and even Rich’s is coming back now.
Over your years living in Houston, how have you seen attitudes towards the LGBT community change? I think as we’ve become more mainstream, it’s helped the LGBT community. We’re all over TV, we’re all over the news, we’re fighting for our rights. So we’ve become part of an open conversation rather than a behind closed doors conversation, especially with the huge transgender rights movement that’s happening around the world right now.