Unfortunately, it's still for COVID-related reasons.
Pride Houston said Monday the parade and festival planned for Sept. 25 are canceled amid a spike in COVID-19 cases and the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.
Still, that doesn't mean there won't be a celebration at all: the group will effort a Pride block party in Montrose on Oct. 2.
While details are limited now, we know the block party will be concert-style and likely be staged as an outdoor event with a 5,000-person maximum capacity.
The delta variant has become dominant and is the most transmissible so far.
According to data pulled by our partners at the Texas Tribune, the state's positivity rate, described as the ratio of confirmed cases to tests, went above 10% for the first time since February. Gov. Greg Abbott previously identified that threshold as dangerous.
Nearly 43% of Texans have been fully vaccinated, which lags behind the national vaccination rate of 48.8%, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Pride Houston is not the only event that has had to pivot or cancel its plans because of the lingering pandemic.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo tried to mount a comeback this year after having to shut down early in 2020, when the pandemic was just getting started.
It didn't happen again in 2021, though some events, such as the Junior Livestock and Horse Show competitions still continued.
The rodeo's focus is now on 2022, where country legend George Strait will perform for the events 90th anniversary and singer Cody Johnson, no stranger to RodeoHouston, will be the opening night act.
Pride Houston released the following statement to the media Monday afternoon:
Pride Houston Opts for Block Party in Montrose as a Substitute for the 2021 Pride Parade
At Pride Houston's Kick Off event on Sunday, July 25, 2021, the organization announced it would host a smaller block party in the historic Montrose neighborhood instead of its larger annual Pride parade. We want to make very clear that this was not a City of Houston decision.
"We (Pride Houston) were looking forward to bringing back the parade this year since some COVID restrictions have been relaxed. But as new COVID infections are rising and the presence of the Delta variant we think it would be more prudent to host a smaller capacity event," says Thasia Madison Pride Houston President.
At the kickoff event Pride Houston explained that permitting had been secured from the City of Houston for a September 25th Celebration Festival and Parade, but Pride Houston independently decided to scale back their annual event.
"However, it was our decision to postpone the parade until 2022. We love our community and want to keep it safe. We have organized several upcoming events and will follow Covid precautions. We even have a vaccination drive scheduled. We are doing our part to help Houston and Harris County combat the Delta variant," Madison continued.
Pride Houston's decision was based on concerns and advice expressed by several elected officials, health agencies, and others who have encouraged us to postpone this year's celebration until 2022. Harris County has below a 50% vaccination rate recently raising the level to orange and due to the number of unvaccinated families with kids who are the main participants in our Celebration.
We look forward to the 2022 Pride Houston Celebration and we'll be holding vaccination drives at several of our upcoming events. After the announcement and decision, we were glad that our Grand Marshals were supportive.
Here are the upcoming events that Pride Houston plans to hold, with a capacity of 5,000 attendees or less:
- Saturday, 8/28 - Baewatch x Salvation, the largest LGBTQIA+ pool party in Texas @ Clé
- Sunday, 9/5 - Grand Marshal Reception @ Neon Boots
- Friday, 9/10 - Rumba Latin Night with Pride @ Neon Boots
- Saturday, 9/18 - Pride In The Country, Country and western night @ Neon Boots
- Saturday, 9/25 - Eden, Houston's largest all Girl Party (but guys are welcome too) @ Neon Boots
- Saturday, 10/2 Pride in Montrose, Concert & Block Party
- Monday, 10/11 - Rock the Runway, Fashion Show on National Coming Out Day benefitting our Heritage Scholarship Program @ Ballroom at Bayou Place
- Saturday, 10/16 - Rights are Human which is our Human Rights Conference to address inequities and issues such as immigration, trans rights legislation, veterans rights, etc.
- Saturday, 10/23 - Reel Pride, LGBTQIA+ Film Festival at the University of Houston Downtown
As you can see, the Board has been working diligently to deliver a full calendar of events delivered in a safe and healthy place.
From Austin Dexter Williams, 2020 Male Identifying Grand Marshal
"I am proud that Pride Houston has chosen the community's safety as its first priority. I look forward to the 2022 Celebration."
From the office of Council Member Abbie Kamin, District C, 2021 Ally Grand Marshal
"While I am extremely sad to have learned this year's parade has been postponed, I cannot appreciate Pride Houston enough for being selfless and proactively putting community above all else.
This was going to be my 4-month-old son's first Pride Parade, but we will have it next year and for years to come. That's what matters.Thank you Pride for all you do and who you are in the face of unprecedented challenges."