2017 Houston Pride Festival, Parade celebrates love, equality
HOUSTON – The Houston Pride Celebration crowded the streets of downtown Houston Saturday.
Despite a rainy morning, more than 100,000 people visited the festival just outside City Hall. This year's theme is "Wonderland."
"Today is about pride; today is about life; and today is definitely about love," said Pride Houston President and CEO Frankie Quijano.
On a hot and humid June afternoon, Grammy-awards winning singer LeAnn Rimes headlined the concert at the Houston Pride Festival, communicating to fans her commitment to supporting LGBT rights.
"Love is love," said Rimes.
The singer and songwriter said it was the LGBT community that inspired her new song, "Love is love is love," which was released this year.
Crowds of people stopped by booths with dozens of sponsors of several community groups and resources.
"A lot of these community groups don't really have a platform where they can gain a lot of attraction for their brands and their programs -- we offer that to them," said Quijano.
Quijano said it is a "safe space" that welcomes people of all walks of life and sexual orientation, especially the LGBT community.
"The ultimate goal is to let everyone know we're here. In the face of adversity -- and we have a lot of adversity coming against us -- we're here, and we're going to keep on trucking. We're going to keep celebrating who we are as a culture until we have all of our rights," said Quijano.
"There's too much violence. Everybody discriminates and everybody hates everybody. That needs to change," said attendee Paul Ashcraft.
Anti-LGBT demonstrators were also free to express their opinion. At one point, three demonstrators held signs on Smith Street just outside the festival.
"You must come to the Lord Jesus Christ, repent of your perversion and get right with God," yelled one demonstrator into a megaphone.
They stood alongside several officers who were patrolling the demonstration.
The Houston Pride Parade starts at 8:30 p.m. downtown. Organizers are hoping to beat past year's record in which 700,000 people attend.
More than 150 floats are expected to make their way down Smith and Milam streets for the two-and-a-half-hour event.
"Today is all about love, equality, being a human being," said attendee Sean McFolling.
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