JFK, a fellow traveler. And a clamorous outcry to keep Pride in the Montrose.
I really enjoyed Blase’s story about JFK and his friend Lem ["Best Friends for Life," May 2007 OutSmart ].
I became fond of JFK when I was just a tyke (that’s tyke with a T!), made a speech to my school in favor of his candidacy, and managed to see him twice, once at a motorcade and once at a speech he made in the amphitheater at Arlington Cemetery.
I even once stood on an obscure hill at Arlington Cemetery, overlooking the Potomac River and Washington, D.C., and noticed what a wonderful spot it was. Later, at the same spot, JFK would make a similar comment, and that was where he would ultimately be buried.
Thanks to Blase and David Pitts for introducing us to someone who had a lasting impact on one of America’s best-known families. And, for demonstrating what I suspected all along—that JFK had a big, unpartitioned heart.
Editor’s note: OutSmart creative director Blase DiStefano interviewed David Pitts about his book Jack and Lem: John F. Kennedy and Lem Billings—The Untold Story of an Extraordinary Friendship (Carroll & Graf) for our May issue.
ALL ABOUT PRIDE
I don’t know the reasons the Pride group has for preferring downtown, and they might be valid, but I can’t imagine Houston events by/for/about gay people being anywhere but Montrose, our town. The month is not important to me, but the venue is.
I write this letter to voice opposition to the idea of relocating the Houston Pride Parade out of Montrose.
I have been a resident of Montrose for most of the 17 years I have lived in Texas. I was 22 and only recently completely out of the closet. As both a gay man and a disabled person, I felt very alone. I found this place called Montrose and people who treated me as simply a person just like anyone else. I found friends. I found home.
During that time, Montrose was, much like the rest of the gay world, finding its voice in the face of the plague known as AIDS. I often made friends who would, sadly, die. Despite this, I watched our collection of individuals become a community. In the wake of great loss, our people found great strength.
At no time was it more evident or powerfully brought home to me than on that one day a year in June when we mark the anniversary of the Stonewall riots. If you don’t get why it’s in June, then learn some history.
As a former New Yorker, I am keenly aware of Stonewall’s place in queer history. As I said, our GLBT, etc. community found its voice there, and whether it was in pride or protest, we were being heard.
It could be said that we have outgrown the need for a small place like this town. Perhaps, but how do we appreciate what we have if we forget from where it was we came? When we shouted, it was from here, in the very heart of Houston’s gay center. AIDS activism, gay pride, spirituality, culture—it all started within the boundaries of what some have come to call our Enchanted Kingdom.
Change has indeed come to our home. Townhomes and condos in shades of beige now replace much of the color we once held so dear. We have sat back and watched idly as our murals and flags and homes were taken away, one by one. Now you would take our most honored events from their place? A line in the sand must be drawn, and it should be said, “This far—no further.”
Change should never be confused with progress. Change often occurs when people see monetary gain to be made for a few. Progress occurs when a people, a community as a whole, is benefited. Just because we can do a thing does not mean we must do a thing.
We stand on the shoulders of those whose struggle, sweat, tears, and sometimes even blood brought us the openness and freedom we so very carelessly take for granted. To paraphrase wise words now long forgotten, “For love and for life, I will not go back.”
Robert “Papa Merlyn” Pagano
I’m livid! I heard that a task force wants to move our Pride parade to downtown next year. Over my dead body!
Let’s start a petition to keep the Pride parade where it belongs—in the Montrose. Petitions can be located at all gay clubs, restaurants, churches, businesses, etc.
Let’s stop the madness and make a stand!
Due to an editing error, we incorrectly indicated in the “Business News” column in our May issue that the product PartySmart is a stimulant. The product, available at Houston Buyers Club, is stimulant-free.
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