Pride Houston, Inc. is revamping their grand marshal categories for the 2019 year — adding a ‘non-binary grand marshal’ category in a step forward toward better inclusivity.

(HOUSTON) — When it comes to Pride celebrations throughout the world, there’s always discussion about how grand marshal titles can be adjusted to be more inclusive of all people in the LGBTQIA community. These categories vary from Pride organization to Pride organization. Some host only a single grand marshal each year, while others classify their grand marshals by gender identification. Some cities even host a celebrity grand marshal seat, which has not always proven to be popular within the community. But as the discussion about gender identification is constantly and rightfully making its way to the forefront, Pride Houston, Inc. has made the optimistic decision to rebrand their own grand marshal categories and take a trailblazing step forward toward better inclusivity.

In recent years, the grand marshals that lead Houston’s LGBT Pride Celebrations annually have been classified to ‘male’, ‘female’, and ‘ally’ or ‘honorary’ categories. But after hearing and seriously considering remarks from the community to make their grand marshal categories more inclusive of trans and non-binary people, Pride Houston, Inc. has made the bold and promising decision to reassess how they’ll be taking grand marshal nominations from the community in 2019. While last year — which marked Pride Houston’s 40th Anniversary — all forty years’ worth of grand marshals were honored leading up to and at the event, this year Houston’s LGBTQ+ community can expect a few changes. According to Daniel Cato, who serves as the marketing director for Pride Houston, Inc., the 501(c)(3) nonprofit has revamped the male and female categories, now classifying them as “male-identifying grand marshal” and “female-identifying grand marshal”, in an effort to better serve the trans community and provide them with a sense of much-needed inclusion. Additionally — and while retaining its ‘ally” category — this will be the first year that Pride Houston, Inc. will open up a new grouping, a “gender non-binary grand marshal” for their 2019 celebration. By doing this, Pride Houston hopes to help highlight the often-forgotten non-binary people in its celebration here in Houston.

“As an organization, we want to continue the effort of making Pride more inclusive to all. Pride Houston has started the conversation of moving away from gender-related grand marshal categories.”

— Lo Roberts, President & CEO

But Pride Houston isn’t stopping there. It seems as if they are well aware that this may not be a fix-all. In an exclusive chat with About Magazine first, both Cato and Pride Houston President and CEO, Lo Roberts, added that come late February of 2019, the nonprofit will host a Town Hall with representatives of Houston’s LGBTQIA community to discuss what more they can do to become more inclusive. At this Town Hall, Pride Houston hopes to discuss what the future would look like for their grand marshal categories and allow the public to talk back with Pride’s representatives in order to provide ideas and input to aid in the evolution of Pride Houston’s honors.

31404200_2172616306302314_7926198944600686592_o EXCLUSIVE: Pride Houston Adds Non-Binary Grand Marshal Category
Pride Houston president & CEO, Lo Roberts (photo by Eric Edward Schell of Pride Portraits).

In an exclusive statement from Roberts to About Magazine, the president and CEO said, “As an organization, we want to continue the effort of making Pride more inclusive to all. Pride Houston has started the conversation of moving away from gender-related grand marshal categories. The 2019 Houston LGBT Pride Celebration will maintain its traditional categories, but will additionally provide a ‘gender non-binary’ category. That being said, Pride Houston has also decided that an open and public dialogue must occur in order to review these categories and to create a consensus among the greater community about what these honors should look like and how they should be represented. I would personally like to invite our entire community to come out and be a part of the discussion as we continue to make Pride Houston the community’s organization.”

This decision comes just off the heels of the loss of Ray Hill — an icon and activist in LGBTQIA culture and the man who co-organized Houston’s very first Pride parade. Following his death, Pride Houston also announced that they would be hosting an annual Town Hall to discuss the safety of Houston’s LGBTQ+ community, as well as the issues its people face. The nonprofit is now taking nominations in all four of their 2019 grand marshal categories. The form for these nominations can be found here. Pride Houston will be accepting nominations through 6 January 2019. Nominees for each category will be announced at the Pride Unveiling Event (where the 2019 theme will also be revealed) on 24 January 2019. Public voting for nominees in each category will run from January 25th through mid-April; and the selected grand marshals will be announced at the annual Pride Kickoff Party on 25 April 2019.

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