Hundreds of thousands of people descended on downtown Houston this past Saturday for the 44th annual Pride Houston 365 festival and parade, the third-largest Pride celebration in the United States. Pride Houston, which has been happening officially every year since 1979, was extra poignant this year considering its two-year absence as the city grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This year’s Pride Houston occurred against the backdrop of a nation that is increasingly divided on key issues. In response to the June 11 arrests of 31 men affiliated with white nationalist group Patriot Front, who were stopped before they could stage a riot at a Pride celebration in Idaho, Pride Houston beefed up security this year at the festival and parade. The parade also came just one day after the US Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade; in a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas suggested the court should likewise reconsider other cases that guarantee same-sex marriage, same-sex consensual sexual relations, and the right to contraception. It also comes during a time in which Gov. Greg Abbott and other members of his cabinet and party have been launching an unprecedented attack on the state’s transgender community. 

Houston’s queer community is resilient, however, and in spite of increasing threats to their fundamental rights, they came out en masse to celebrate. The theme for this year’s parade was fittingly “The Beat Goes On,” and indeed it did, as throngs of both Houston residents and visitors alike participated in a jubilant celebration of all things queer.

Here's the best and brightest from the city's Pride month close-out. 

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