News (USA)

Pride Houston adds more security following federal terror warnings

Kat Bailey hands out candy during the Pride Parade on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Kat Bailey hands out candy during the Pride Parade on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in Corpus Christi, Texas. Photo: Angela Piazza/Caller-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

Following warnings from the federal government, Pride Houston 365 has announced they will work closely with more than 27 safety and security agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security, Houston EMS, private security, and undercover police, to ensure the event goes on safely. And several other cities’ Pride organizations are following suit.

The added security comes after the FBI, the State Department, and the Department of Homeland Security all said that there was an increased risk for terrorism or violence at 2024 Pride festivals and warned queer people to be cautious.

A joint statement between DHS and the FBI said that “foreign terrorist organizations or supporters may seek to exploit increased gatherings associated with the upcoming June 2024 Pride Month” but did not mention specific threats. They pointed toward the Pulse Nightclub Shooting in Orlando as an example.

“FTO (foreign terrorist organization) efforts to commit or inspire violence against holiday celebrations, including Pride celebrations or LGBTQIA+-related venues, are compounded by the current heightened threat environment in the United States and other Western countries. FTOs and their supporters have previously promoted anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric and targeted LGBTQIA+ related events or venues for attacks,” the statement read.

“We want to reassure our community that your safety is our utmost priority…pride has always been an event to celebrate despite hate and fear. We are taking every measure possible to ensure that our festival and parade remains a safe space for everyone to come together in celebration and solidarity,” said Pride Houston 365 in a statement released earlier this week.  

Pride Houston 365 further said the security measures are “to ensure our event is a fortress of joy and unity.”

Last week, the State Department issued a warning of its own about possible terrorists threats to Pride events in Europe: “The Department of State is aware of the increased potential for foreign terrorist organization-inspired violence against LGBTQI+ persons and events and advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased caution.”

The statement advised U.S. citizens abroad to “stay alert in locations frequented by tourists, including Pride celebrations and venues frequented by LGBTQI+ persons.”

This kind of warning right before pride is unusual. President of LGBTQ+ travel network IGLTA John Tanzella told the New York Times that “the State Department’s recent worldwide travel advisory specifically targeting the LGBTQ+ community is unlike any we’ve seen before, but it also aligns with the escalation of anti-LGBTQ+ actions globally.”

The 46th Houston Pride Festival and Parade will take place on June 29. The organization said that “Houston’s Pride event is renowned for being one of the safest parades, with a spotless record free of violence or terrorism.”

In Florida, organizers behind Wilton Manors Stonewall Parade and Festival also discussed security measures with the media, saying that they are always on “heightened alert” because of the many threats to Pride celebrations.

“There is a lot of security that goes into it,” organizer Jameer Baptiste told 6 South Florida. “We work closely with the police department and it really is a lot of security in terms of sniper locations that, of course, can’t be revealed, but a lot of protocol goes into it to make sure the safety of the people are guarded.”

In Columbus, Ohio, Pride organizers said that they are taking the terror warnings seriously.

“We take these concerns very seriously, just as we take safety seriously every year during this event,” Stonewall Executive Director Densil Porteous told the Columbus Dispatch.

“We work to have comprehensive measures in place, including increased security personnel, strategic planning and coordination with emergency services, and ongoing risk assessments to respond to a variety of scenarios that may arise,” they continued. “We understand the importance of not only celebrating our identity and history but doing so in a safe and secure environment. Please rest assured that we are committed to hosting a safe and inclusive event for everyone.”

Don't forget to share:

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

California lesbian power couple Peggy Moore & Hope Wood dies in tragic car crash

Previous article

Dobbs had the opposite effect conservatives intended

Next article