___ ^____ _____ _■ L ——_ HOUSTON VOICE
LOCcll LIYG -
Partners in life and partners in Pride
Todd Amdor and Matt
Stone have created
a new and improved
Pride Festival for 2005
By DAWN RORIE
After almost a year of planning, the
Pride Festival is back.
While the annual bash before the
parade is always a popular event for those
who wish to drink, dance and be merry
before the parade begins, festival co-chairs
(and partners) Todd Amdor and Matthew
Stone have been working to make this
year's event bigger and better than ever.
This is the fifth year that Amdor and
Stone have volunteered for Pride
Houston, and the second year that they
been involved with coordinating the festival, which has evolved considerably since
Houston's Pride Festival began as a
Pride rally after the parade, back when
the parade was held in the heat of the day.
When the parade made its switch to the
nighttime, the festival moved to the
Garden in the Heights.
In recent years, the Festival has found a
home in Montrose, finally landing at the
intersection of Westheimer and Yoakum.
With Yoakum closed to vehicle traffic on
Pride day, festival goers can now celebrate
all afternoon and continue mingling and
partying as they gather in a special private viewing area to watch the Parade.
Other than location, what makes this
Pride Festival different than last year's—
or the year before that? According to
Amdor, more community involvement
has grown the festival into what organizers hope will be "the epicenter of gay
Houston before the Pride celebration."
Thanks to approximately 75 businesses and non-profit organizations, the 2005
Pride Festival will feature plenty of food,
drinks, booths, and tons of entertainment.
In addition to food and drinks provided
by the Montrose Diner and Slider's Bar
and Daquiris, festival-goers will be able to
buy merchandise and find information
about various gay-friendly businesses
and non-profit organizations at the many
Matt Stone and Todd Amdor are the chairs of the 2005 Pride Festival that takes place the afternoon of June 25. (Photo by Dalton DeHart)
ft MORE INFO
Houston Pride Festival
2 p.m. until parade time
Yoakum and Westheimer
booths that wiU be set up at the event.
The Hollyfield Foundation, which provides funding for many HIV/AIDS and
non-profit organizations that serve lesbians and gays, will be showcasing 40
groups such as AIDS Foundation Houston,
the Montrose Clinic, and the newly
formed Houston Equal Rights AUiance.
According to Amdor, the festival is
"trying to highlight some of the local
non-profit groups that aren't as visible as
some of the larger organizations."
This year, festival attendees will be
able to test their pitching skills at
Dunk'd—a dunking booth that will feature "GLBT community leaders, muscle
boys, and drag queens," says Stone.
Pride Houston president Nick Brines,
activist/lawyer Jerry Simoneaux, hotties
from Muscles in Action and divas from the
Miss Camp America Foundation are among
the people who will brave the icy waters of
Dunk'd in order to entertain the masses.
A wide variety of musical entertainment will rock the audience from two
stages. Local acts such as the Houston
Pride Band and skyblue72 will perform
on the Community Showcase Stage.
Sophie B. Hawkins performs
The Bud Light Stage features a lineup
of artists that includes festival headliners
Sophie B. Hawkins and Pansy Division.
Grammy-nominated singer Sophie B.
Hawkins is known for her chart-topping
singles "Damn! I Wish I Was Your Lover"
and "As I Lay Me Down."
"Sophie is excited about the opportunity to perform for the gay community in
Houston," says Stone.
Pansy Division, "the original gay
punk band," came crashing out of the
closet in the 90's to develop quite a following. They have performed more than
800 live shows and opened for Green
Day's World Tour.
After partying for hours in the heat,
cooling down is a must. The Red Bull
Energy Dance tent will be cooling down
bodies while keeping the party hot, hot,
hot. The 1,000-square-foot, air-conditioned
tent will feature music spun by some of
Houston's hottest DJ's. "The key word
here is 'air-conditioned!'" says Stone.
Although the Pride Festival will be an
entertaining event for adults, Amdor and
Stone emphasize that the event will be fun
for families, as well. All entertainment
will be family-friendly, and the festival
will feature children's activities, including a blow-up moonwalk and an exhibit
by the Houston SPCA. Children under the
age of 6 get into the festival for free.
Amdor and Stone hope that heterosexuals will attend the event, as well.
"Events like this change people's minds
about what the gay community is and
who its members are," Amdor says.
Stone agrees, explaining that the festival is not only a way for the gays and lesbians to reconnect, but also a way to educate heterosexuals. "This is a chance for all
people to have fun and celebrate our community, our culture, our music, and learn
more about our organizations." he says.
Festival tickets, costing $10, can be purchased at Houston Buyers Club, 3224
Yoakum; Montrose Counseling Center, 701
Richmond; Montrose Clinic, 215
Westheimer; and The Assistance Fund,
1116 Jackson or online at the Pride Web site.
After organizing such a huge festival
for this year's Pride, Stone and Amdor
can't imagine how they will top it in 2006,
but they are determined to try. Planning
for next year's Pride will begin just a
month or so after the last bits of this
year's parade paraphernalia are swept off
Somehow, between working full time
jobs and volunteering at various organizations—Amdor is an attorney for
Bracewell and Giuliani LLP and serves
on the board of the Hollyfield
Foundation, and Stone is assistant director of sales for the Hilton Westchase and
a board member of the Houston Black
Tie Dinner—the pair manage to make
every year's Pride celebration one of
their top priorities.
The celebration and festival, says
Amdor, is "Pride's gift to the community."