Queer Voices

November 1st, 2023 Queer Voices

November 01, 2023 Queer Voices
November 1st, 2023 Queer Voices
Queer Voices
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Queer Voices
November 1st, 2023 Queer Voices
Nov 01, 2023
Queer Voices

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We speak with Bryan Cotton, the Founder and President of New Faces of Pride, LLC. in Houston, a new pride organization established in 2023. Their mission is to foster unity, inclusivity, and empowerment within the LGBTQ+ community of Houston through year-round events and fundraising initiatives. We discuss the objectives of this new organization, what it hopes to accomplish and why it was founded. This includes discussing their Parade and Festival on June 22, downtown at Wortham Theater and Fish Plaza.

Guest: Bryan Cotton
https://newfacesofpride.org/

Then, we speak with Kendra Walker from Pride Houston 365 joins us to chat about their approach to the Pride season and what is planned for 2024.  Historically, Pride Houston is a volunteer-run, 501(c)(3) non-profit that has organized the official Houston LGBT Pride Celebration® which includes the Houston Pride Festival® and Houston Pride Parade® every year in Montrose or downtown Houston promoting public awareness of the need for diversity and equal rights in our community as well as to commemorate and celebrate the history of the gay, lesbian, trans and queer community.  They aim to celebrate this cause not only in June but all year round.

Guest: Kendra Walker
https://pridehouston365.org



Queer Voices airs in Houston Texas on 90.1FM KPFT and is heard as a podcast here. Queer Voices hopes to entertain as well as illuminate LGBTQ issues in Houston and beyond. Check out our socials at:

https://www.facebook.com/QueerVoicesKPFT/ and
https://www.instagram.com/queervoices90.1kpft/

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

We speak with Bryan Cotton, the Founder and President of New Faces of Pride, LLC. in Houston, a new pride organization established in 2023. Their mission is to foster unity, inclusivity, and empowerment within the LGBTQ+ community of Houston through year-round events and fundraising initiatives. We discuss the objectives of this new organization, what it hopes to accomplish and why it was founded. This includes discussing their Parade and Festival on June 22, downtown at Wortham Theater and Fish Plaza.

Guest: Bryan Cotton
https://newfacesofpride.org/

Then, we speak with Kendra Walker from Pride Houston 365 joins us to chat about their approach to the Pride season and what is planned for 2024.  Historically, Pride Houston is a volunteer-run, 501(c)(3) non-profit that has organized the official Houston LGBT Pride Celebration® which includes the Houston Pride Festival® and Houston Pride Parade® every year in Montrose or downtown Houston promoting public awareness of the need for diversity and equal rights in our community as well as to commemorate and celebrate the history of the gay, lesbian, trans and queer community.  They aim to celebrate this cause not only in June but all year round.

Guest: Kendra Walker
https://pridehouston365.org



Queer Voices airs in Houston Texas on 90.1FM KPFT and is heard as a podcast here. Queer Voices hopes to entertain as well as illuminate LGBTQ issues in Houston and beyond. Check out our socials at:

https://www.facebook.com/QueerVoicesKPFT/ and
https://www.instagram.com/queervoices90.1kpft/

Glenn Holt:

Hello everybody, this is Queer Voices, a home-produced podcast that has grown out of a radio show that's been on the air in Houston, texas, for several decades. This week we're looking at two Pride celebration committees in Houston. First, brian Levinca talks with Brian Cotton, president of New Faces of Pride.

Bryan Cotton:

We are the only Pride organization that will be having a festival in 2024. We are hosting the festival at Fish Plaza and the Wortham, and we will also be inside the Wortham with both theaters, so we will have entertainment throughout the day inside the theaters, as well as the largest festival we've ever had in Houston outside.

Glenn Holt:

Brian Debra Moncree-Fell has a conversation with the organizers of Pride Houston 365.

Kendra Walker:

We were 50k in debt in the red, and so I think it's amazing for this board to have pulled off two celebrations as well as pulling us back in the black without major help.

Glenn Holt:

And we have news wrap from this way out.

Bryan Hlavinka:

This is Brian Levinca, and today, on Queer Voices, I'm speaking with Brian Cotton of the new organization, the New Faces of Pride. Welcome to Queer Voices, brian.

Bryan Cotton:

Thank you, nice to be here.

Bryan Hlavinka:

Let's talk about this organization and how it got formed.

Bryan Cotton:

For about the last three years now, several conversations have been had with different business owners and other community leaders, in conversation, as time goes by, that along the lines of somebody's got to do something about Pride. In May these conversations kind of came to a head and it was suggested that I was the person to lead this charge, gave us some thoughts and called Jill Maxwell she was actually my very first phone call Called her and said, hey, let's have lunch. And when we did I told her, said hey, you want to start a new Pride organization in town. And she was game, said let's do it. And from there we set out to build our board of directors and build our advisory board and kind of took off from there. We had an interest meeting in June with a number of people from the community that wanted to hear about what we were doing, see what our vision was, possibly get involved. And then we officially formed in July and took off from there.

Bryan Cotton:

Notable people on the board are officers for the board of directors, myself, founder and president Brian Cotton. Felicia Flores has been in the community for a number of years. She is our VP. Jill Maxwell is a former board secretary of another Pride organization, so she has a lot of experience that she brings. That was one of the main reasons why I wanted her, other than just her amazing connections and all the things that she's done for our community. Donald J Sims he is an accountant in our community and everybody that's been in the nonprofit world very long knows that finding a qualified treasurer is always a nightmare. And then to have an accountant that wanted to do it I thought I'd won the lottery when that happened. And then Tim Stokes is our parliamentarian.

Bryan Cotton:

One person that I'm super excited to have is Jack Valensky. He actually formed Pride Houston way back in the 90s. It's an honor to have Jack with us and all of his history and experience and everything that he brings to the table, so it's been great to have him. Dalton is on our advisory board. Goes without saying how important that is for us the experience and everything he brings to the advisory board for us. Other notable names for the advisory board Dustin Sheffield, monty Bacchus and Dan Cato. Those guys were vital to our success, simply because they all have over 10 years of experience of running either the parade or the festival, or both in this city. Once, jill and I said, yes, we're going to do this. Those are some of the very first people we reached out to and they, thankfully, were super excited that there was a new organization and they were more than happy to get on board and help us out.

Bryan Hlavinka:

It was announced in the Houston Business Journal. That seems kind of an interesting place to announce this. Why not outsmart her Community magazines?

Bryan Cotton:

Houston Business Journal was offered to us and we took it. Many of the sponsors and people, the companies that we want to deal with they're going to reach Houston Business Journal and it's a wonderful magazine that's read by many of the top people in Houston. So we took the opportunity.

Bryan Hlavinka:

So talk about the corporate sponsorships that you're going after.

Bryan Cotton:

Anything that you would typically think of Any typical sponsor that you would see in a normal Pride event in any city. We're going after major companies. We've had conversations with many of them thus far. We have conversations coming up, some that are people we'll expect to see at your typical Pride festival and parade. Some, I think, people will be a little shocked at that they haven't seen before, and some will be companies that we are very fortunate that we have been able to bring back, that have left for a number of reasons in recent years and now that there's a new organization they're willing to come back to support us, so we're thrilled with that.

Bryan Hlavinka:

Can you talk about where the name comes from?

Bryan Cotton:

Yes, we wanted to make a point to differentiate ourselves and the fact that this has been a contentious issue over the years and people saying somebody's got to do something, somebody's got to do something. We had to have a name that set us apart. So new faces made it very clear that this is a new organization and it's new people running a new Pride organization. It's not the one that has been around that people have certain feelings about, or the one that make people say we need to do something about Pride.

Bryan Hlavinka:

Can you talk about what's being planned? I understand that it's going to be the week before the traditional weekend.

Bryan Cotton:

Yes, historically, the city is not a fan of hosting big events so close to the July 4th, which is why we went for June 22nd and we are approved for a parade and a festival. We are the only pride organization that will be having a festival in 2024. We are hosting the festival at Fish Plaza and the Wortham and we will also be inside the Wortham with both theaters, so we will have entertainment throughout the day inside the theaters as well as the largest festival we've ever had in Houston outside. The parade will be your typical parade route for Houston. Not a whole lot of flexibility with that. With the train tracks that we have all throughout downtown, you can't cross the train tracks, so we don't have a whole lot of ability to move things around too terribly much. And then, with staging along Allen Parkway and whatnot, we stuck with the standard route that have used for years.

Bryan Hlavinka:

I understand there was an effort to maybe move it to the east side.

Bryan Cotton:

We did talk about that. Our concern was the heat and the heat strokes that have happened in the past and whatnot. So we had talked about possibly moving to George R Brown and Discovery Green and all that. But in our first meeting was Susan Christian. She was the one that pointed out the issue with the train tracks and she said your parade is going to be drastically smaller over there because you just can't cross any of the tracks. Once we saw that, it did kill it for us, because we can't host a festival on one side of town and then have everybody cross downtown and go back over.

Bryan Cotton:

Houston Grand Opera is one of our. They're actually the first organization to step up and want to partner with us and then it was suggested hey, let's use Wortham. That was a great one for us. We get a lot of shade with the trees and fish plaza and we also have the inside of Wortham, so we do have some AC. And then, of course, like I said, we have the theaters that are going to allow us to have a very impressive entertainment lineup for that day.

Bryan Hlavinka:

What motivated you to take this on? This is a huge task.

Bryan Cotton:

It is. But you know, once again, it was one of those things after about three years of everybody kind of having the same conversation, somebody said, hey, I think that person is you, and I was like I guess you're right. You know, it was kind of like I don't know who else is going to do it and I didn't want us to be having the same conversation years from now. So I ventured out and decided to do it and you know I've been around the community for gosh I guess, about 20 years now, been heavily involved in the nonprofit world for most of that Everything from writing checks to being on boards to being president of boards and raising money and so I was like, yeah, let's do this and let's just get the right people.

Bryan Cotton:

I was very clear from the start I can run an organization. I don't know how to run a parade or a festival, so I need the right people behind us, which was the main reason why I went after Jill. She was my first conversation and, like I said, dustin, dan and Monty were vital and luckily they all were very excited to join us and their relationship with the city, their relationship with third party vendors, their knowledge of how to put all this together. It is invaluable for us and it's a huge part of our success that we've had already.

Bryan Hlavinka:

So this means that we'll have two prides. Is there any divisiveness do you seek in the community coming?

Bryan Cotton:

I would tell you that about 99% of the community is elated about this, the support that we have received, even before the Houston Business Journal article came out, because, I mean, it was no secret, people knew about it. You know the interest meeting. We had a ton of people there, word got out, people were talking, organizations knew leadership knew. Even the other pride organization knew. They weren't quite sure exactly who was running it, but they knew. But everyone's very excited about this. There's a very, very, very small percentage who's not, and we know who that is. But vast majority of the community is overjoyed with everything that we're doing.

Bryan Hlavinka:

What will be considered a success at the end of June for this event in your mind.

Bryan Cotton:

One of the big things that we're doing is we are focusing on the community and bringing the community together, and we have a huge focus on the nonprofit world. We are picking two charities. The first is Tony's Place, which was in the Houston Business Journal article, and the second is the rapid rehousing portion of the Montrose Center. So our focus there is, you know, homeless LGBT youth, getting them off the streets. So at the end of the season, once prides paid for and we put a little money aside for next year, the money that we have left, we're splitting that, we're writing checks and I will say this our sponsors love that. Some of the businesses that have signed up to help us host events and whatnot, they love that, and many of our sponsors so far have said before you write those checks, let's all get together and discuss this, because we'll be adding money to that or we'll be matching, you know, so we'll have more money coming in from them as well.

Bryan Cotton:

So the fact that we're gonna raise money and give back is a huge difference from any other pride that has been around. Also, throughout the year we're hosting happy hours. We have reached out to all. We haven't hit them all yet, but we've gone to a multitude of the you know LGBT bars in the community and have reached out to them and have been rebuilding the relationships with them, and we're gonna be hosting happy hours with them. And each month we are highlighting a different nonprofit in our community besides our main two, trying to highlight a smaller nonprofit who's doing really great things in the community, bringing them to the happy hour, bringing people in, letting them know what they do, just bringing awareness to them, and we want to do that throughout the year, leading all the way up to June, and then, of course, we close out the the pride year, if you will, with a check presentation for the two main organizations that we've highlighted so I'm a former grand marshal.

Bryan Cotton:

When you have grand marshals in this, absolutely how we select those we will open it up for nominations to the public. We are gonna have a set of guidelines, like has always been around with typical pride. One thing that will be different from things that have happened recently is there will be no fundraising involved. Nobody's gonna have to pay for any portion of their vote. As long as somebody meets the qualifications and they are nominated, then it's open to the public for voting and you know that's how it is, but there's there's no pay-to-play when it comes to our grand marshal.

Bryan Cotton:

I understand there's an event coming up that would you like to talk about that yes, november 9th is our meet the new faces of pride, and it is being held at riches, which, for those who don't know, jeff Harman, who owns rebar, is remodeling rebar and it is being called riches. The sign is up on the building but since he's been closed for the remodel, that has definitely confused a number of people. They're like no, riches is closed. I'm like no, riches is very much alive.

Bryan Cotton:

We have been fortunate up to go inside his place and, man, it is beautiful. I'm super excited for everybody to get to see it. He has been wonderful to work with and he's gonna be a great sponsor with us. But when everybody comes on November 9th they will have the opportunity to meet people from Tony's place as well as Montrose Center and you'll get to meet everybody on the board of directors as well as our advisory board for new faces of pride Houston and get to mingle with everybody and hear what we're about and see you know our vision and go from there. But we're super excited to have everybody out no.

Bryan Hlavinka:

Is there anything else you would like to add before we go?

Bryan Cotton:

mainly that we're just looking forward to the next year and a wonderful pride year and raising money and bringing awareness to the, the nonprofits and small businesses in our community and bringing the community back together and building a pride organization that the city is happy to stand behind and everybody is proud of.

Bryan Hlavinka:

I've been speaking with Brian Cotton about the new faces of pride, a new organization in Houston that's starting very soon. So, brian, thank you for coming on. Thank you very much.

Bryan Cotton:

I hope you'll have a great day.

Glenn Holt:

This is Queer Voices coming up next on Queer Voices, debra has a conversation with the organizers of Pride 365.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

This radio program we Are Voices has existed since the 1970s. On KPFT we have this little crew of folks working every week to produce what's no longer unique, because we're almost mainstream now, but we're still an important voice that might not otherwise get heard because it's not on that many places. So KPFT is very important to give voices to those who might not otherwise have voices. So, as Glenn always says, you participate by listening. You should also participate by supporting the station. So please go to kpfftorg and make your donation right away. This is Deborah Moncrystbell, and today I'm talking with Kendra Walker of Pride Houston 365. Kendra, you were with us a few weeks ago where we talked about your life of activism, but you're back today to talk specifically about what Pride Houston 365 has in store for this year and some recent developments that the community is going to be faced with. Where are we as of right now?

Kendra Walker:

Pride Houston 365 is where it's always been. We are very excited to get the Pride season started. We will be having well, actually on October 17th, and the press will be covering it. We will be having a Facebook announcement live on our page announcing the dates of the 2024 celebration as well as the theme and events and things to come. Our new board members will also be online so that you can see that we just are coming off a national coming out date where we had a partnership with Tony's Place and the kids shared their amazing stories of coming out. And that's really what it's out about being in a community 365 days a year and we're looking forward to celebrating the June Pride season.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

One of the recent developments is the formation of another group that intends to do a parade in festival. Where is Pride Houston in regards to that? Can Houston sustain two events?

Kendra Walker:

Well, it struck us pretty odd, as when we talked to the city of Houston every year, one of the comments that they make is that Pride is so big and it's a drain on resources, so we've had to put in more resources for the city to support us.

Kendra Walker:

It is my opinion that Houston cannot sustain two parades, especially if the attendance is the same at both, but that's not a problem for us to figure out, that's a problem for the city of Houston. What we will have is adequate security, adequate EMS. Now, while other groups in the community are certainly able to throw a parade or a Pride festival in fact, the mortar barrier let's have one every weekend. What you're not able to do is use the trademarks of this organization, which are Pride Houston, in any form or fashion, identical or similar. The Pride Houston festival, the Houston Pride parade, the Houston Pride festival, the Houston Pride celebration and the Houston LGBTQ Pride celebration are all trademarks that are owned by this organization. So, while we welcome the addition of a new Pride organization, we must enforce our trademarks to the full extent of the law, and we will.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

When did you first learn of the formation of this new group?

Kendra Walker:

When we went to the city of Houston, as you know, last year we announced that we were seeking permission for a Friday night festival because everyone has made public health an issue, with the heat in June and the possibility of us moving to October.

Kendra Walker:

You know, other groups are already in October, so you just cannot move a celebration of this magnitude. So the city has on reserve, you know, a weekend in June for us. Well, to our surprise, when we met with the city, they were no longer supportive of a Friday night festival and then we were told okay, we wanted to break it up. Let's have a Saturday night festival weekend before and then we can have the Saturday night parade the weekend after, since we already do two weeks of Pride celebration actually a full month of Pride celebrations anyway. And at that time we were told that another group was doing a Pride parade and festival. We did not learn who was behind that effort to a couple of hours later. And what was shocking to us is that some of those that are defendants in our current lawsuit for misappropriation of funds sit on the board of that organization. So that was, I guess, eye-opening because I would think they would settle the case and be active in their defense before starting another organization.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

It seems to me that some of them may have taken what would be considered preparatory information and, yes, organization. How is that going to be dealt with?

Kendra Walker:

Well, in our contracts, where we had higher vendors of that nature, you have things that are illegal and things that are unethical. So we have non-competes and non-solicitations that cover a year. Therefore, those persons that we hired, who are now part of that organization, were prohibited in 2023 from pursuing our sponsors and things of that nature, but are not prohibited from 2024. However, that is still using information and sponsors and media contacts that you only learned of through working with this organization. So, while that may not be illegal, we certainly think it's unethical.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

Was there any outreach by people with this group to dialogue with Pride Houston 365?

Kendra Walker:

We heard rumors through the rumor meal that another group was forming, but no one ever did a formal outreach to us to present concerns and things of that nature. It's been par for the course since we announced litigation against our former executive director. You know most of the records are public credit card receipts and things of that nature, but people sometimes would rather listen to the bar chatter or a disgruntled customer instead of doing the proper outreach. The proper way to address this board is through our email, not by tagging members of the board on social media and going back and forth to attend the actual board meetings, because the public is allowed and when we send out invitations to the public they have neglected to show up. However, no one with that organization has reached out to us for any type of outreach or any type of dialogue to coordinate efforts or even to see what we were doing.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

Pride Houston had a rough several years. It started with previous person who was involved who did something with fiduciary matters. Then there was also apparently misappropriation with later people and then there was COVID.

Kendra Walker:

Yeah, so Pride Houston's issues actually started with the pandemic. I was surprised to know, when I was just a member at large, that there was no crisis plan in place or no business continuity plan. Most corporations have that already in place, for if you lose staff or if you are not able to financially meet the contributions of the or what do you cut or do you do? That was not in place, so myself and another board member actually talked to the executive council at that time and said this needs to be in place. So after the pandemic, pride Houston was already struggling financially because our biggest fundraiser is the festival and parade. That's how we are able to function year round without having that for two years and no other stream of income, because very few sponsors were willing to donate to us without a parade and festival happening. Some did, but I can count them on one hand. Therefore, once the executive our former executive director once we our treasurer resigned, and once we reviewed the documents that were being held from us even as board members we were not able to see bank statements and things of that nature. We didn't have access to them, but once we saw them we were like OK, these are not private expenses. This really explains why we are losing money so fast.

Kendra Walker:

When I came to the presidency, and also when, when the Taylor actually joined the board, we were 50k in debt in the red, and so I think it's amazing for this board to have pulled off two celebrations as well as pulling us back in the black without major help. We had to make tough decisions. We can be everywhere at every moment. We had to really concentrate on the work of making the org financially solvent. There's two key things with fiduciary duty, and that is staff and money. If you don't have those, you can't do outreach, you can't do festivities. So we did the hard work of making sure hey, let's sure the staff and money whether board members loaned that money, whether we sought grants, but it was pretty much almost an everyday job, not just a volunteer job. We were working full time jobs and doing this full time, and I'm happy to say today that we are further in the black than we were before the pandemic. So thank you, austin, rain and Wendy, who are also board members, who are on this interview as well.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

I understand that you use personal funds to help store up the organization. Have you been paid back?

Kendra Walker:

I was paid back after this last celebration 2023 celebration so myself loaned 30,000 and Asian Madison, the previous president of Pride Houston, loaned 15. We were both paid back after this celebration, but it took two years. We loaned that money during the Montreal's block party in 2021.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

As things stand right now, are you going to be able to have a festival?

Kendra Walker:

Yes, we are having a festival and we are having a parade.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

This year there was not a festival and there were valid reasons why that did not occur, but the organization received a lot of criticism for it. However, you did have a fantastic kickoff party which was very much like a festival. It may not have been as large as the traditional Pride Parade Festival. I remember in years past when the parade was in Montrose and it was just a few blocks around near West Timer and Montrose where the festival was set up. Festival was not always a part of the parade event, so I guess it's just one of those things people came to expect. It is a big party for the community. The most important thing I think Pride is is that it's a way of witnessing it's us as a people, the queer culture and all its diversity. Pride Houston 365 has created a very diverse and inclusive organization. I salute you on all of those achievements. What particular things do you have planned coming up that you can talk about?

Kendra Walker:

We will have the festival and parade. The date, like I said, we're going to announce October 17th. Let me just circle back to the decision to cancel the festival. There is a everyone loves a big party and things look a lot different when you are sitting on the board and you're basically liable to the state, liable to the city, for every medical occurrence that occurs After 2022, whether people take responsibility for their drinking habits or hydrating or not. Those expenses will fall to Pride Houston should they become ill and not well.

Kendra Walker:

There was no good game plan in place for 2023. And we know we needed time to revamp a festival that needed to put public health first, because your safety is going to come before a party. And even though the community was, let's say, disappointed, the community was also safe After this 2023 parade. We didn't have any medical incidents, we didn't have any bill from the Houston fire department that was enormous for having to transport many people to the purchasing room. So we did a good job and we were able to shore up, and so now we have a good game plan for bringing the festival back for 2024 where we can put the public safety first, because safety is going to come before the party. We want you to party safely, we want you to have a good time, but we also want you to make it home that evening.

Kendra Walker:

And heat exhaustion, heat stroke, is a very, very real thing. And if that and the organization would be liable for you, we would be personally liable, which means that could pretty much take this organization out of existence. And one of the fiduciary duties that we have is not to just have a parade and festival, but it is to ensure the financial solvency and the longevity of the organization. So that's why I always say you know, you think about things from a customer point of view, but things look a lot different when you're liable for everything that happens.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

This past June the parade was televised and that was very exciting for me because I couldn't go to it, but I got to watch it on KHOU. I hope that those kinds of partnerships will continue.

Kendra Walker:

Yes, abc is back as our major partner and ABC televised last year and they also didn't use with the parade participants. It was the first time that, at least in recent history that I know of that, it wasn't just screamed on social media that it was actually broadcast live on TV and it was so well received that there is talks with ABC that's owned by Disney, to make it a regional broadcast.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

In June 2023,. I got to watch the parade on KTRK ABC Channel 13 as it was happening. I think in years past there had been recordings of the parade that were aired, but I got to watch it live and so I was able to participate, even though I couldn't physically be there. So is there anything in the works for this coming year?

Kendra Walker:

Yes, abc has already been secured, and, like I said in previous years, at least since I've been here, it's only been screened on social media and not live broadcast on live TV. Well, it was well received, and so now ABC, which is owned by Disney they're talking about a regional broadcast, but it will already be broadcast live. We will be back to determine we're still negotiating which markets it will actually be in, but yes, it will be a regional broadcast. So that is very exciting for Houston, and not only that, that gives everyone in the parade exposure that they would not otherwise have, and so we're really excited about showing the region what Houston and Houstonians are all about when it comes to pride.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

There is an international pride organization. Have you been involved with that at all?

Kendra Walker:

Yes, we used to be members of the international pride organization. As you know, back in 2019, we actually bid for world pride. However, considering the challenges that we had, we are not members currently because we needed to basically rebuild the organization. We're hoping to rejoin all those associations in 2025.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

And another thing that's happening is that there are more smaller communities that are holding pride festivals. This October 14th they had Katie Pride. The Woodlands holds a pride event. Fort Bend's going to hold a pride event. Galveston has a pride event. A lot of those communities do come into Houston for the bigger event. All around there are these communities that are having pride because I think it's so important to bear witness and say we're here, we're where, we're not going away. Have you had any sort of interaction with these smaller groups?

Kendra Walker:

Wendy has had a chance to interface with Katie Pride but, as you know, for the last two years Pride Houston really could not offer a lot of outreach help. We were understaffed in rebuilding the org. We're hoping, with Dexter at the outreach helm now, that there's a lot more outreach to those other pride, but we really want to do more outreach to the boots on the ground and we support all of those smaller cities having pride Webster Pride, space City Pride. We think you all should have pride, but I would caution everyone sometimes these pride organizations. We're very supportive of Katie Pride, but sometimes these pride organizations are unfortunately made up of members who did wrong in previous organizations. Our former executive director, who is under litigation right now, is actually sitting on the board of one of the new pride that you just named, and so that's what happens a lot of times.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

Why do you think there's this source of division?

Kendra Walker:

I think there's a source of division, of people who put friendships above their fiduciary duty, and it's a very hard thing to do. I've had to take some very tough votes, even with the former executive director, because I actually was one of the ones who were very supportive of her having to pay position. But at the end of the day, when the facts bear out what they are, you have to do what's best for the business and the organization, as well as the community. Sometimes people listen to rumors and they think for some reason we got a million dollars in sponsorships and we do not, and so, where their services may be 80K, they feel like we can afford them and we're like, no, that's not in our budget, and so they take it personally.

Kendra Walker:

Instead of looking at it as we want to do outreach in the community, we want to sew into businesses. At a certain point, I think everyone had a 2019 mentality toward an organization that was in a 2021 reality, and that was the problem and that caused a lot of division. But, at the end of the day, when we sign those papers to the state and to the city, is that we will buy by the law. We will exercise our fiduciary duty to do what's in the best interest to further our mission. One of our missions is that we do have the annual pride festival and parade, that we do do outreach into the community. So, in order to do that, you cannot do that without staff. You cannot do that without showing up the financial solvency of the organization, both of which we have done now, and so now we can further our mission, as stated.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

We have also with us today Wendy Taylor. And Wendy, you talked a little bit about on that little gay talk show about how people complain or criticize, but they don't show up. You want to talk a little bit more about that.

Speaker 6:

It's important at all times to raise your voice. If you see something, say something, but it's also important how you say something. If you're not involved, ask questions. Don't make assumptions. If you want to see something that doesn't exist, come with solutions and a plan. Don't just say I want to see this, why aren't you giving me this? There's so much more that goes into making something happen than you will ever know until you get involved in it. Actually do it. I am really tired of keyboard warriors who have not done the groundwork. I'm really tired of people with YouTube educations, claiming to be experts in fields. Not every opinion is equal. I really want to see people get up and actually do something instead of just talking about it. I'm really tired of the empty conversations. I want to see some action because, quite frankly, at this point, our community is under attack and the best way to end any dynasty is to divide it from within, and if we cannot present unified front as queer people, they're gonna win.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

The other people with us. Austin, dexter, williams, austin, you and your husband, keith Clark, are well known for doing a number of events throughout the year. Tell me a little bit about some of those and how you started getting involved in Pride Houston.

Speaker 7:

Well, hi, debbie, thank you so much for having us. I have been throwing parties. My husband and I have been throwing parties probably as long as we've been together, which will almost be 12 years, but we've been throwing parties throughout Houston, texas, and we've always held different events, like Trans101, just to bring the community together and learn more about our trans brothers and sisters. We've always taken part in Pride, but when Kendra approached me to be a member, I was excited, you know. I thought it was my time to really bring a community of people together and I thought that that's what it was all about. I'm focusing on just that. I'm focusing on trying to bring a community together because we are under attack. As Wendy said, we are under attack and to the new faces out there, that group, I wish you guys had come to us. It's just that simple. I mean, we can't show right now a divided front. It just doesn't make sense to me. It just absolutely doesn't make sense to me. We have a lot of work to do and we have a community of people that are relying on us to show our best for them.

Speaker 7:

My focus, as it was during the Pride parade. We were talking about how I fell off a truck, but I still showed up to put together the March for Trans Autonomy. It was a beautiful group of young kids who came and supported and they led the parade, and that's my focus this year. Next year we'll bring them back and we'll also have, in celebration of marriage, equality in the marches, in the parade as well. So my focus is being inside, being a part of the community, boots on the ground, as Kendra said. I really wish we could have filmed the kids sharing their stories for National Coming Out Day. It was absolutely beautiful. I wish I was as smart at 16 as these young people are, and that's what it's all about. That's what my focus is.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

A new person to me, rain Scott Rain, what is your position with Pride Houston?

Kendra Walker:

I am actually Pride Secretary. I came on to the board in the 2023 season in January along with Dexter, so he and I kind of joined together. I don't have really any affiliations with throwing parties or prizes or anything like that, but I have been out since I was 13-14 years old. I am an HR manager by trade, but I have always just been in the community being supportive and just doing whatever I can to be out, to be proud, to be loud and to be an advocate. I actually would support a lot of Kendra's parties, events and things like that with lesbians of color. So I think that that's kind of where she noticed me just kind of showing up being supportive of all the events that they throw, whether it's a party, whether it's a community service thing that's going on. I was just kind of always there, always visible, and just kind of getting to know her. Vice versa, she did come to me and asked me to join the board and after just kind of learning about Pride, houston 365, what they stood for and all that kind of stuff, I thought that, you know, I think that that was my next purpose, right? So I went on ahead and joined.

Kendra Walker:

She was very transparent about you know where the board was, you know what was needed going forward, how we're in a state of rebuilding. We're looking for people that are morale, you know, that have high morale, that are ethical, that are legal and things like that and really just helping to revamp our organization and take us to another level. And I, you know, I was super invested in that and I believed in it. I believe in Kendra. I came on to the season not knowing anything how to throw a parade, of none of those things, but she was great at training us and just kind of bringing us up and I think just naturally too, like I'm an event person by nature, so I've been, you know, a leader by nature and things like that. So we just kind of all jumped in and did our part. The thing that I guess I would like to speak to, you know, I know, with the formation of the new organization a big thing, is just kind of having these events year-round and having pride year-round.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

As we close off today, kendra, I'm going to come back to you. Is there anything that I didn't ask about that you would like to share with the community?

Kendra Walker:

I think it's important that people know who our board members are. Of course, you've met Rain in Austin and you've met Wendy, but we also have a Judge, shannon Baldwin, who sits on our board. We have Jason, who was actually the parade and festival lead, I believe pre 2010, but has rejoined our organization. We have Christina Martinez and we also have Annie Gottlie, so we have successfully restaffed the board, and that's what we want to get, I guess, the point across, and I want to say happy pride, because it's pride all year round.

Kendra Walker:

The 2024 celebration will take place Saturday, june 29th. The festival will take place in the daytime, but what we have at it is several medical tents that are air conditioned and that will be given out free water, so we're no longer depending on the, you know, library or other facilities to provide emergency cooling tents. We are now building them ourselves and there will be available for everybody so that they can escape the heat and stay safe. Our theme for 2024 is you won't break our soul, so kind of like playing out. You know the whole Renaissance theme of Beyonce, because that was big this year, and so our logo unveiling will be at Carbock, as per usual when we do the pride market. It's actually the first Sunday in June. Let me pull it up. Don't have it memorized, but it's gonna be June 2nd. The pride market was an event that we first did in 2019 and it has just taken off like. Everybody loves the pride market and so it is really fun.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

Well, thanks for being with us today, kendra Walker and other board members with Pride Houston 365. Thanks you for being with us on Queer Voices.

Glenn Holt:

Part of our Queer Voices community listens on KPFT, which is a nonprofit community radio station, and as such, kpft does not endorse or hold any standing on matters of politics. If you would like equal airtime to represent an alternative point of view, please contact us through kpftorg or our own website at Queer Voicesorg. This is Queer Voices.

Speaker 9:

I'm John Dyer the fifth, and I'm Kaylin Hartman with News Wrap, a summary of some of the news in or affecting LGBTQ communities around the world for the week ending October 28th 2023. Nigerian security forces arrested 76 people in the northeastern state of Gamba this week as the government's anti-LGBTQ crackdown escalates. Authorities charged that the October 23rd alleged gay birthday party was going to become a gay wedding. The West African nation outlaws same-gender sex and its 2014 Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act makes it a crime to participate in or attend a queer wedding ceremony. It also outlaws public expressions of affection by same-gender couples and bans queer advocacy groups. Gamba is also one of Nigeria's northern states where Islamic law is imposed on top of secular laws. Private consensual adult same-gender sex can already be punished with up to 14 years in prison. When the Muslim-controlled Sharia states, the death penalty is also a possibility.

Speaker 9:

Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps spokesperson, buhari Saad, announced that they had apprehended 76 suspected homosexuals while holding a birthday party organized by one of them who was to wed his male bride. At the event, he said that 59 men and 17 women will be prosecuted. According to Saad, 21 of the men willfully confessed to being gay. 19 men and women were arrested last December by Sharia police in the northern city of Kano for attempting to organize a gay wedding. Officials let them off with a warning and never brought any cases to court. However, more than 200 people were detained in September in the country's northern state of Delta for attending a gay wedding. Prosecutors eventually charged 69 people. They were all released on bail and must register with authorities every month until their next hearing, which has yet to be announced.

Speaker 10:

South Korea's constitutional court has decided that gay sex in the military is a potential threat to combat readiness. South Korean courts have upheld the gay sex ban in the military criminal act four times since 2002, according to Reuters. The act prohibits anal intercourse or what it vaguely calls any other indecent act. Male service members convicted of engaging in private consensual adult gay sex face up to two years in prison. Equality advocates were disappointed by the constitutional court's October 26 ruling, but they were encouraged by the narrow five to four margin.

Speaker 10:

Indeed, the four dissenting justices called the law abstract and ambiguous. They questioned whether indecent acts applied only to males or to both males and female service members. They also found no reason to differentiate between same gender and heterosexual consensual sexual acts between soldiers. Two male soldiers who were sentenced by military court to suspended terms for their consensual gay relationship last year saw their convictions overturned by the Supreme Court. Amnesty International's East Asia researcher, buram Jang, called the laws validation by the constitutional court a distressing setback in the decades-long struggle for equality in the country. Lgbtq rights activists have faced increasingly strident opposition in recent years from fundamentalist Christian organizations in the socially conservative country. All able-bodied men between ages 18 and 28 are required to serve from 18 to 21 months in South Korea's military.

Speaker 9:

The Austrian government has set aside the equivalent of more than 40 million US dollars to compensate gay men who were unjustly prosecuted for consensual adult homosexual acts. After same-gender sex itself was decriminalized in 1971, corresponding heterosexual acts were not prosecuted under statutes that remained in force for same-gender sex. They included unequal ages of consent, a ban on promoting same-gender relationships and starting or joining a queer organization. Heterosexual and lesbian prostitution was made legal, while gay male prostitution remained criminal. The constitutional court finally annulled the last of those statutes in 2002.

Speaker 9:

The Ministry of Justice expects about 11,000 people to apply when the Rehabilitation and Compensation Act takes effect next year. According to Euro News, Eligible applicants are slated to receive the equivalent of more than 3,600 US dollars for each nullified judgment. They will receive half that amount for every year they spent in prison, an equivalent sum if they had health or economic setbacks because of their prosecution, and about 600 US dollars for every formal investigation launched against them. All of those convicted under the provisions will have their criminal records expunged. The Justice Minister offered a formal apology. Activists have generally expressed support for the moves, but some are also demanding that anyone who was fined is entitled to repayment with interest, even though they may not have been jailed. They also want the National Council to issue its own formal apology. President Sophie Ott chairs Hossi Vien Homosexual Initiative Vienna. She told Euro News, after all, it was the National Council that passed these laws in the first place.

Speaker 10:

The Republican-led US House of Representatives finally has the Speaker. More than three weeks after the far-right wing of the party ousted Kevin McCarthy and paralyzed one of the country's two legislative chambers, republicans settled on their fourth choice. Congressman Mike Johnson of Louisiana is now second in line to the presidency, behind Vice-President Joe Biden. In his post-wearing in remarks, johnson credited divine intervention for his emergence from the backbenches and the ascendance of the MAGA congressional faction.

Speaker 11:

I believe that Scripture, the Bible, is very clear, that God is the one that raises up those in authority. He raised up each of you, all of us, and I believe that God has ordained and allowed each one of us to be brought here for this specific moment in his time.

Speaker 10:

A wide range of queer and progressive groups are calling him dangerous and the most anti-equality speaker in US history. Mike Johnson is a card-carrying Christian nationalist. He used to work for the notoriously far-right, anti-queer legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls it a hate group. Johnson opposed sodomy law repeal and has called for the recriminalization of same-gender sex. He railed against anti-discrimination laws. He voted against the Respect for Marriage Act that legislatively codified marriage equality. He also supported a national ban on a woman's right to choose a federal version of Florida's don't say gay law and the virtual legal erasure of transgender people. The amiable congressman is not shy about his fundamentalist Christian agenda, the way he did during an October 26 interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity.

Speaker 11:

I am a rule of law guy. I made a career defending the rule of law. When the Supreme Court issued the Obergefell opinion, that became the law of the land. Okay, I respect the rule of law. I also genuinely love all people, regardless of their lifestyle choices. This is not about the people themselves. I am a Bible-believing Christian. Someone asked me today in the media. They said what does Mike Johnson think about any issue under the sun? Well, go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it. That's my worldview.

Speaker 10:

That's what I believe, new Speaker of the US House of Representatives, mike Johnson, whose understanding of the Bible is not much better than his understanding of the Constitution. God help us all.

Speaker 9:

Finally, who's crying now? Viciously, anti-lgbtq libs of TikTok. Social media influencer Chaya Raychik is howling over her recent addition by the Anti-Defamation League to its glossary of extremism. The former real estate huckster has more than 2.6 million followers around the world. Libs of TikTok regularly sparks bomb threats and sometimes direct death threats by railing against schools, libraries and other institutions for hosting drag queen story hours or for other perceived pro-queer policies. This specialty is targeting hospitals or other medical facilities for offering gender-affirming pediatric trans healthcare. On the platform known to everyone but Elon Musk as Twitter, raychik demanded the immediate removal of her name from the ADL's glossary of extremism. She wailed. Not only have they defamed me, they also lumped me in with terrorist organizations like Hamas. Raychik gave the ADL until the end of October to remove her name before, in her words, she'll be forced to take more action. The ADL told reporters we do not comment on matters regarding actual or threatened litigation.

Speaker 10:

That's News Wrap, global queer news with attitude for the week ending October 28th 2023. Follow the news in your area and around the world. An informed community is a strong community.

Speaker 9:

News Wrap is written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, produced by Brian Deschaiser and brought to you by you.

Speaker 10:

Thank you. Help keep us in ears around the world at ThisWayOutorg, where you can also read the text of this newscast and much more. For this Way Out, I'm Kaylin Hartman. Stay healthy.

Speaker 9:

And I'm John Dyer, the Fifth, stay safe.

Bryan Cotton:

Straight military personnel will have to shower with homosexual.

Glenn Holt:

To accept the principle that homosexuals can't shower with other people is a degree of discrimination that goes far beyond this. We don't get ourselves dry cleaned. Hello, I'm Barney Frank and you are listening to this Way Out, the international radio show for all our sexually diverse communities.

Speaker 9:

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Glenn Holt:

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Speaker 10:

And through your financial contributions to our program.

Speaker 9:

More information about how you can give is online at thiswayoutorg. Thank you, thank you.

Glenn Holt:

This has been Queer Voices, which is now a home produced podcast and available from several podcasting sources. Check our webpage QueerVoicesorg. For more information. Queer Voices executive producer is Brian Levinca. Andrew Edmanson and Deborah Moncrief-Bell are frequent contributors. The news wrap segment is part of another podcast called this Way Out, which is produced in Los Angeles.

Glenn Holt:

Some of the material in this program has been edited to improve clarity and runtime. This program does not endorse any political views or animal species. Views, opinions and endorsements are those of the participants and the organizations they represent. In case of death, please discontinue use and discard remaining products.

Glenn Holt:

For Queer Voices. I'm Glenn Holt.

New Faces of Pride
New Faces of Pride Houston
Pride Houston 365
Pride Houston Partnerships and Regional Broadcast
Unity and Action
Korea Bans Gay Sex, Austria Compensation
Showering and Discrimination in the Military