Pride Houston bans distribution of condoms during annual parade

Community leaders speak out against the ban, saying safe sex materials should be allowed and accessible

HOUSTON - Some Houstonians in the community are upset after a plan to ban the distribution of safe sex supplies.

Organizers of the parade that draws thousands of people to Montrose every year, want to ban the handout of condoms.

The colorful crowds are known to cheer and plead for trinkets thrown from participants along the parade route.

As a gay man, Randall Ellis, of Legacy Community Health Services, says he was stunned when Pride Houston informed community groups they could not hand out condoms or other safe sex materials at the parade.

"I'm not sure what their motivation was but I think it was not thought out," Ellis said.

Pride blamed the change in policy on a new city ordinance or state law that bans the practice.

However, the city of Houston health department says that's not the case and even threatening not to participate in the parade if safe sex materials can't be handed out.

According to Kathy Barton, of the city of Houston's health department, no one with Houston Pride returned the health department's calls.

Ellis says after he and other community leaders spoke out, there has been word that the policy has changed.

"My intention is to make sure we send a clear message that condoms should be accessible and allowed in the community. Not not allowing, we're saying there's something wrong with gay sex," Ellis said.

The 34th annual Gay Pride Parade will be held June 29.

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