Houston has one of the largest and most visible gay communities in the country, a fact that often surprises outsiders who think of Texas as being quite conservative. If you need any evidence that Houston's gay scene packs plenty of punch, check out the Pride Festival and Parade, which takes place in late June (June 29 in 2013), capping a full week of gathering and events. This will be the 35th anniversary of Houston's Gay Pride celebration, which typically draws more than 300,000 participants and spectators.
During the days leading up to Pride, you can attend a number of related parties and gatherings. Here's a full calendar of events.
The Houston Pride Festival takes place on Saturday, from 1 pm until 7 pm in the city's main gay neighborhood Montrose. It's Commonwealth Street and Yoakum Boulevard, just south of Westheimer Road. There's a main Pride Stage featuring performances by a range of prominent artists. There are also pop and other music performances on other stages, a food court, a Community Zone of some 200 local retail vendors and GLBT organizations, and a safe and secure Kids' Zone with fun activities. Admission to the festival is free.
More than 300,000 spectators and 1,000 participants take part in the Houston Pride Parade, also held on Saturday. This parade is unusual in that it takes place at night, following the Pride Festival - it commences at 8 pm and lasts until 11 pm. Festivities begin on Westheimer Road, at Dunlavy Street, and continues east along Westheimer for about a mile to Montrose.
Additionally, numerous gay bars as well as gay-popular restaurants, hotels, and shops have special events and parties throughout Pride Week. Check local gay papers and websites, such as Out Smart Magazine and HoustonGayGuide.com, for details. Also take a look at the outstanding GLBT site produced by the city's official tourism organization, the Houston CVB.