What’s better than one Pride organization? Two! The dynamic Houston LGBTQ+ community cultivates rich, fertile ground for new ideas, faces and leadership. This is progress in action. Welcome to the stage, Houston’s New Faces of Pride!

The new nonprofit, which launched in October 2023, aims to spotlight LGBTQ+ organizations year-round by making philanthropy one of the main cornerstones of their mission. Bryan Cotton, president and founder, and his board of directors have hit the ground running with their fundraising efforts and plans for an expansive and inclusive Pride celebration.

Bryan Cotton

Bryan Cotton, president and founder of New Faces of Pride

Pride Houston 365 has been the sole curator of the annual LGBTQ+ festival and parade for more than four decades, but Cotton explains how he hopes to improve upon his predecessor, who will also still host Pride events in tandem with the new organization. “For many years, the community has recognized a void in Pride festivities concerning the endorsement of our local LGBTQ+ enterprises and non-profit organizations. Having been a member of the LGBTQ+ community in Houston for several decades, my commitment to giving back to those who contribute to our flourishing community has always been fervent,” he says.

Cotton expressed his concerns to a friend, who encouraged him to take action. “The revelation that establishing a new non-profit dedicated to prioritizing philanthropy in Houston's Pride scene was feasible came to me during a conversation with a friend,” he explains. “As we discussed the necessity for a Pride organization that not only mirrored but also supported our city, she suggested, ‘Why not take the initiative yourself?” He answered the call, and the rest is history. “This moment marked the realization that spearheading a new non-profit could indeed bring philanthropy to the forefront of Pride in Houston.”

New Faces of Pride kickoff event

New Faces of Pride kick-off celebration at RICH's Houston on Nov.9, 2023. Photo: Courtesy New Faces of Pride.

Announcing their inception, the board members said that the group’s foundation is rooted in its emphasis on fundraising efforts. “Our primary objective revolves around maximizing funds for our two designated non-profits, which will change annually, and supporting local businesses,” Cotton explains. “Beyond hosting monthly events at neighborhood venues, we have an action-packed June 2024 schedule. The month's highlights include a parade and festival set against the backdrop of Fish Plaza and Wortham Theater in Downtown Houston. Following our annual celebrations, we will formally present a check to our beneficiaries at Houston Dynamo/Dash Headquarters by the end of the year.”

New Faces of Pride

Andrea Simonton, New Faces of Pride Communications Director (center), with Tony's Place & Montrose Grace Place representatives

The inaugural beneficiaries were chosen based on their commitment to the most at-risk within the queer community. “This year, our chosen beneficiaries are Tony’s Place and Montrose Grace Place. Following extensive discussions within the board, we collectively decided to concentrate our efforts on supporting organizations dedicated to LGBTQ+ youth — one of the most vulnerable segments in our community,” Cotton says. “We are actively organizing multiple events throughout the year to raise both donations and awareness for these organizations.”

Pride Parade & Festival 2024

Pride Month, which is recognized during June, will feature a host of exciting events open to the public. Drag shows, pool parties, and celebrations will take place throughout the month, including a parade and festival taking place on June 22. The massive event will feature more than 350 vendors, discounted vendor pricing for local businesses and nonprofits, state-of-the-art cooling stations, and more. Pride Houston 365 plans to host their annual festival and parade on Saturday, June 29, 2024.

Cotton assures that his organization’s celebrations will not interfere with his counterpart’s events. “In alignment with our approach to other LGBTQ+ focused organizations and community planning, we consistently take into account concurrent activities when orchestrating our events. This ensures that we can unite as many individuals as possible to partake in the celebrations!” he says. “We would never create a situation where businesses, organizations, volunteers, or former Grand Marshals are forced to make a choice between our entities. Our commitment to our mission remains steadfast, and we extend a warm welcome to all with open arms.”

The team at New Faces of Pride is ultimately motivated by their desire to bring the community together. “In tandem with our financial goals, a secondary objective is to foster unity among people,” Cotton says. “We firmly believe that every member of our community contributes a unique story and perspective, ultimately enriching our collective strength and understanding.”

Thus far, the team has seen great success, and Cotton explains that they look forward to seeing the fruits of their labor. “The most exhilarating aspect [of New Faces of Pride] has been engaging with businesses and community influencers and witnessing their enthusiastic embrace of our vision for Pride. Each encounter, event, and meeting serves as a constant reminder of the initial inspiration behind launching Houston's New Faces of Pride. The ability to reunite individuals under a common purpose has been exceptionally gratifying, and we are excited to sustain this momentum.”

To learn more about Houston’s New Faces of Pride, visit their website.