Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Promises of Pride Houston

As of today I received a few pieces of correspondence via email that I will outline in this post to highlight my distrust in Pride Houston keeping their promises. In the background information that I have listed below, Pride Houston on Oct 22nd of 2014 made the bold promise to create a diversity committee and to participate in the Juneteenth parade for 2015. I recently reached out to Pride Houston to get the progress of that effort in two ways, FIRST:

Ashton P. Woods <ashpierre07@gmail.com>Wed, Mar 11, 2015 at 1:55 PM
To: Frankie Quijano <fquijano@pridehouston.org>
Bcc: Brandon Mack <brandon.d.mack@gmail.com>, Synthia Walton <synthia.walton@gmail.com>
Hi Frankie,
I wanted to touch bases with you in reference to Pride Houston's creation of a Diversity Committee and the organization's participation in the upcomimg Juneteenth parade. What is your current status on the creation of the Diversity Committee? I ask because many feel like Pride Houston is expecting those who made the request/demand for a Diversity Committee to create it themselves. Hopefully, this is not the case and a committee will be created by Pride Houston soon and that they participate in any planning for upcoming events. Also, have you had any success in getting in touch or reaching out to the planners of the Juneteenth Parade/celebration? Please contact me as soon as possible.
Thank You
Ashton P. Woods
[Quoted text hidden]

Quijano, Frankie <fquijano@pridehouston.org>Wed, Mar 11, 2015 at 2:07 PM
To: "Ashton P. Woods" <ashpierre07@gmail.com>
Mr. Woods,

The Diversity Advisory Committee (DAC) is well underway in regards of creation and assembling the chosen individuals under the direction of Pride Houston board members. I understand that the DC will meet in the coming weeks. Pride Houston has sent multiple communications to the Juneteenth parade organizers and have had no response. Pride will continue its attempts to communicate with those organizers to solidify an entry in to that celebration.

The 2015 Houston LGBT Pride Celebration® will be held in Downtown Houston continuing the legacy that began on the steps of City Hall in 1977 with the protest against Anita Bryant which is widely considered Houston's "Stonewall Movement".

For more information on the Houston Pride Festival & Parade go to



Frankie Quijano | CEO and President | Pride Houston, Inc.
Pride Houston, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization out of Houston, Texas.
[Quoted text hidden]

Ashton P. Woods <ashpierre07@gmail.com>Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 12:13 AM
To: "Quijano, Frankie" <fquijano@pridehouston.org>
Mr. Quijano,
Thank You for your speedy response! How far along are you in the creation process for the "Diversity Advisory Committee (DAC)?" What is the selection process/criteria for these "chosen" individuals and who, if any have you chosen so far?
[Quoted text hidden]

I ran into Javier Ramirez one of the Pride Houston board members who told me that he is now "handling the diversity committee" and that "no selections had been made" and that a meeting is "scheduled in April." This is a very different response that I got in comparison to the email I received from Frankie Quijano. I inquired about Pride Houston's participation in the Juneteenth parade and he stated that they "have tried several times to reach the planners of the Juneteenth events and had not received any responses" until recently and that they "purchased a float" to be in the Juneteenth parade. Now in lieu of that conversation, I reached out to Juneteenth as well as went to their website:

The email I sent:

Message regarding the Juneteenth Parade
1 message
Ashton P. Woods <ashpierre07@gmail.com>Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 1:52 PM
To: performer@juneteenthfest.com, Brandon Mack <brandon.d.mack@gmail.com>, Synthia Walton <synthia.walton@gmail.com>, Monica Roberts <monicar62@gmail.com>
To Whom It May Concern,
Hello, my name is Ashton P. Woods and I was part of the group that demanded Pride Houston remove its event from Juneteenth weekend. I am concerned that Pride Houston has not held up its pledge to reach out to you all, to participate in the Juneteenth Parade. Can you confirm, if you have gotten any correspondence from Pride Houston and its participation with you all regarding this matter? Please contact me as soon as possible regarding this issue as it is time sensitive.
Thank You,
Ashton P. Woods
Juneteenth Response:

Pride Houston and the Juneteenth Parade
3 messages

JuneteenthFest @ Emancipation Park <info@juneteenthfest.com>Tue, Mar 17, 2015 at 2:20 AM
To: "Ashton P. Woods" <ashpierre07@gmail.com>

Commerating 150 Years of Freedom in Texas!

832-598-7469    |   Fax: 713-524-7599
No sir.  To my knowledge, we have not heard from Pride Houston.

Kijana Wiseman, Chair
As you can see it is easy to understand why I and many others question Pride Houston's actions in the creation of the Diversity committee and participating in the Juneteenth parade as promised.



Pride Houston took a series of controversial steps in 2014 that entailed the move all pride related festivities to downtown Houston and then a date change from the usual weekend that coincides with the Stonewall anniversary to the weekend of the annual Juneteenth celebration.

There had always been a plan of action to address the issue of having this event on the same weekend as Juneteenth and when time permitted I and a group of other  Houston Black LGBT leaders and allies with multiple ties to mainstream African American community organizations set up meeting with the PRIDE Houston board members.  We held that meeting with three Pride Houston board members at the Houston Urban League downtown headquarters on October 22 to discuss the ramifications of  why the selection of June 20 date was unacceptable. We, as a group came up with a statement that we found to be appropriate to hand to the board members as well as read out loud during the meeting:

"As Black LGBT and allied leaders and activists, we strongly and collectively oppose the June 20, 2015 date  of the Houston  LGBT Pride Celebration.  We urge Pride Houston to move the celebration to June 27, 2015.  

Holding the Pride celebration on June 20 is a mistake for several reasons, but the top two reasons are 1) it directly interferes with Juneteenth, the oldest known nationally recognized celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the US and 2) it undermines the meaning of the Pride celebration, which at its core commemorates the Stonewall riots, the catalyst for the LGBT movement we know today. The effect of not moving the June 20th date will be disastrous, as it will erode the relationship built among the LGBT community and communities of color, specifically the Black community.

The erosion of these relationships will be detrimental to the Houston LGBT community with respect to the fight to keep the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. Opponents of the ordinance have vilified it since its inception stating in hateful terms that the ordinance is an underhanded means to grant more rights to LGBT persons while denying others. Because leaders from the mainstream black community feel they were not consulted, they were inclined to believe this false rhetoric of the HERO opposition. It took many long nights from LGBT and allied leaders to correct that misinformation. By holding the Pride celebration the same weekend of the Juneteenth celebration, communities of color will likely be inclined again to believe the misinformation, thereby unraveling community trust and HERO support.

Politics aside, maintaining the June 20 date excludes the Black LGBT community.   At the very least, Black LGBT persons are put in a situation where they have to choose whether to celebrate Pride or Juneteenth with the corresponding communities. Far too often, people who live an intersected life must choose which part of their identity fits the occasion. During the Pride celebration, people, including those who live at those intersections, are able to bring their whole selves to the celebration. Why? Because the LGBT community contains all races, abilities, and identities. Moving the date to June 27the maintains the tradition of inclusiveness, something the LGBT community is continuously striving to attain.

Practically speaking, moving the date now will not cause any confusion and doing so quietly will prevent community uprisings.  At this time, the June 27th date is free, which means the process to change it should be simple.. However, not changing the date will definitely cause more problems than necessary.

So again, we urge you to move the Pride celebration back to the last Saturday of June, specifically June 27, 2015."

About two and a half weeks after this meeting we got this:

"November 11, 2014

Re: Request to move the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration

To Whom It May Concern:

The Board of Directors for Pride Houston® have discussed in length the recent request to move the
Houston LGBT Pride Celebration® from Saturday, June 20, 2015 to the following week on Saturday, June
27, 2015 by a group of local individuals that are unassociated with any one (1) local group. With a 6-2
vote the Board of Directors have decided to continue with the current date of Saturday, June 20, 2015
for the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration.
There have been previous instances where the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration has fallen on the third
weekend in June around the 20th of the month and similar requests were not made during those
instances. Furthermore, a substantial amount has already been invested into the Houston LGBT Pride
Celebration for its current date that would un-recoupable which can be crucial for any non-profit
As was recently confirmed by the Mayor’s office of Special events, currently on June 20, 2015 the only
parade listed is set to begin at 10:00 AM CST and end around 11:00 AM CST. With the Houston LGBT
Pride Celebration beginning its parade beginning at 8:30 PM CST it would show minimal impact on that

Pride Houston is willing to work with any organization that could be producing a parade on the same
date so that both can be equally marketed and supported by the Houston community.
Pride Houston also hosts public production meetings on the 2nd Tuesday of every month where our
volunteers discuss logistics, its events and of course the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration. This has been
an ongoing tradition for over 15 years and would be an excellent opportunity for those not associated
with the organization to observe, provide external insight, brainstorm new ideas and even volunteer for
the organization. For more information on these meetings please email volunteer@pridehouston.org.


Frankie Quijano
President and Chief Executive Officer
Pride Houston, Inc.
The march on the steps of City Hall against Anita Bryan in 1977 is widely known as Houston's “Stonewall
Movement”, so the legacy that began in downtown will continue on in downtown Houston in 2015."

Then this happened after the uproar got huge:

"It is with great pleasure that Pride Houston announces that the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration has been moved to June 27, 2015 in respect of the historic Juneteenth holiday. Pride Houston understands and celebrates the importance of the equality of all humanity and the significance that Juneteenth means to African Americans. Specifically we understand that although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed on January 1, 1863, it was not until two and a half years later on June 19, 1865 that African Americans in Texas learned of their freedom from slavery. That fact is why Juneteenth weekend is so important and why we chose to move our date.

It is important to note that Pride parades celebrate the 1969 Stonewall Riots when the LGBT community and its allies stood up against police raids and brutality in the LGBT community. This awareness puts us in a unique position to see the parallel struggles of our communities especially in this time when racial profiling of African American men and boys such a relevant topic in America today.

In a time when the civil rights of historically disadvantaged people are under attack it is imperative that the LGBT and African American communities maintain a coalition against hate, racism and homophobia. It is to that end Pride Houston has also created a Cultural Diversity Task Force to celebrate the cultural uniqueness of the various members of the LGBT community to be incorporated into actual the Pride Weekend festivities.

So please mark your calendars for June 27, 2015 to celebrate the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration in downtown Houston. Also, remember the weekend of June 19, 2015 to celebrate Juneteenth. We will be at both and we hope you will too.

Board of Directors:

Cristina Martinez, Frankie Quijano, Jason Gallegos, Javier Ramirez, Joey Guerra, Karen Mory, Paul Pettie and Rob Higdon."

This was released shortly after the meeting on Thursday, October 22, 2014 where they also stated that they wanted to actually make an effort by creating a DIVERSITY COMMITTEE AND BE IN THE JUNETEENTH PARADE

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