GM Nominee Bios
Our Grand Marshal nominees reflect the wide spectrum of our LGBTQIA+ and ally community. Learn more about them by reading their biographies below. When you are ready to vote, visit our ballot page.
While Voting is restricted to Houston and the surrounding areas (100 mile radios from downtown), you can still be a part of the process by donating to support your candidate.
Eligible Voting Counties: Harris, Fort Bend, Brazoria, Austin, Waller, Galveston, Chambers, Liberty, Montgomery, San Jacinto, Brazos, Walker, Grimes and Washington
Female-Identifying Grand Marshal Nominees
(She/her/hers) is a native Houstonian, veteran police officer, and devoted wife to Jaclyn Madrid. Toni has honorably dedicated the last 13 years to serving the city of Houston as a Law Enforcement Officer and holds the position of Public Relations Officer for Constable Alan Rosen’s Officer. In 2019, Constable Rosen appointed Toni as the LGBT Liaison for Harris County Precinct One Constable’s Office, where she acts as a measure of safety and trust for the LGBTQIA+ community when working with law enforcement. Toni also authored the LGBTQIA+ policy for the Harris County Precinct One Constable’s Office and works to create and maintain relationships with community members and organizations. Toni has previously served as Board Trustee Pos. 2 with The Houston LGBQT+ Political Caucus.
Toni is currently pursuing her Bachelors of Arts / Masters of Arts in Public Administration from Villanova University (Deans List) to better prepare her to lead within Public Administration. Toni’s life purpose is to serve the citizens of this country and dedicate her life to being an example of leadership and inclusion to the LGBT community.
(She / Her) Melissa Vivanco is a member in Houston’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community; who served as the community engagement co-chair and on the diversity and inclusion committee as a part of the National Board of Governors for the Human Rights Campaign.
Melissa was a key leader in the Houston Equal Right Ordinance passage coordinating speakers and helping to gather several hundred signatures to push city council to vote yes. After the Texas Supreme Court pushed HERO to a ballot measure, Melissa remained a valuable leader in the campaign.
She was featured in Outsmart magazine honoring LGBT Hispanic leaders and was honored at the HRC Austin Gala for her diligent work in moving equality forward.
Melissa along with her co-chair Lou Weaver were recognized as HRC Political Steering Committee of the Year, beating 32 other cities across the USA. HRC also recognized Melissa as the 2017 community engagement leader of the year. Melissa is thrilled to have been recognized by the Pride committee, nominated for Female Pride Grand Marshal.
(She / Her)Isabel Longoria is a native Houstonian and a dedicated public servant. Born of Mexican and French immigrant parents, she is proud to serve our diverse community throughout her career. In November 2020 Longoria was appointed as Harris County’s first ever Elections Administrator, and served under Interim County Clerk Chris Hollings during the November 2020 Presidential election.
Longoria’s goal is to build access for Harris County’s 2.5 million registered and future voters. Under her tenure, elections are administered with a focus on equity, access, fairness, and security – an approach that has led to the adoption of new voting machines, more data transparency, and higher rates of voter turnout in the country’s third largest county. She has also held positions with AARP, The Office of State Senator Sylvia R. Garcia, and the Office of State Representative Jessica Farrar. Her previous work experience includes political campaigns and working for elected officials in the Houston area, with a focus on Latino and LGBTQIA+ community organizing, urban planning, and civic engagement.
Longoria is proud to have served on the City of Houston’s Planning Commission, the Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Board, the New Leaders’ Council Board, and the Board of the League of Women Voters. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Sociology from Trinity University (San Antonio) and a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs (Austin).
Male-Identifying Grand Marshal Nominees
(He / Him) Christopher is the epitome of a leader who is doing incredible things in the LGBTQIA community. Christopher has displayed outstanding service, support, and he is committed to the betterment of the LGBTQIA community. In a time where so many people are focused on what divides us, Christopher celebrates what we all have in common.
Professionally, Christopher is dedicated to diversity and inclusion. Since 2017, he made it his mission to make bars that he was involved in more inclusive. He single-handedly reached out to Latino and African-American leaders in the LGBT community to promote cultural inclusion events. After opening BUDDY’s, he immediately engaged the community’s interest and kept his promise by making Buddy’s a modern gay bar with events as diverse as Houston. “EveryBUDDY’S Welcome!”
Christopher’s notable activities and accomplishments include: Montrose Icon Buddy’s became the first LGBTQ bar in Texas to serve as a polling station/ Amazon Hub/Locker station, hosted events such as Chamber of Commerce, Bunnies on the Bayou, LGBT Cycling Club, etc, partnered with a Psychologist to conduct a Mental Health Seminar, hosted countless fundraisers and more.
Christopher has been instrumental in initiating and leading efforts to benefit the LGBT community, such as opening Buddy’s as an “Emergency Warming Station” during ERCOT statewide blackout/deathly freeze, supplied food and water for local patrons, implemented COVID-19 vaccine drive/boosters. And along with Pride Houston, Chris and Buddy’s have been instrumental in bringing Pride back to Montrose
While the above accomplishments are extraordinary, its his hard work for inclusivity and community that should really be brought to the forefront. Chris has made great strides to make sure that everyone, and I mean everyone, feels included at buddy’s. Calling Buddy’s a bar truly reduces what the space is – it is a community center for Houston; a place where anyone can feel welcome. Chris embodies the spirit of Pride – providing community where there is often not. Houston Pride would benefit greatly from his representation as grand marshal.
(He / Him) For three decades, Andrew Edmonson has fought for the civil rights of LBGTQ Texans, against anti-gay violence, and championed the rights of people living with HIV. He cut his teeth as a street activist in the early 1990s with the direct action group Queer Nation, organizing demonstrations and high-profile actions protesting anti-LGBT violence, discrimination against those living with HIV, and against police brutality by the Houston Police Department. In the mid 1990s, he committed to supporting people living with HIV by serving on the board of Body Positive, a grass roots AIDS service organization providing counseling and emotional support to individuals diagnosed as HIV-positive. He also served on the board of directors and as PR director for Halloween Magic, an annual performance event that raised over $1 million for Houston AIDS charities. Starting in 1993, in his professional capacity working in Houston’s performing arts scene, he took a leadership role in organizing Day Without Art/World AIDS Day observances, a series of events designed to raise awareness of the devastating toll that HIV had taken in Houston and in Texas. The annual event received extensive media coverage, and educated the larger public about the impact of HIV in Texas. For the last seven years, he has served on the board of director of The Oral History Project, which is chronicling Houston’s response to the AIDS crisis, raising $10,000 for the initiative. He also volunteered for the Center for AIDS.
For the last 25 years, he has worked as a journalist for such publications as OutSmart Magazine and the Houston Chronicle, covering key issues impacting the LGBTQ community, including the epidemic of anti-gay violence in Texas in the 1990s; Texas’s efforts to slash funding for medications for low-income individuals living with HIV; and key moments in Houston LGBTQ history. He has won prizes for his work, including the Vanguard Award from Women In Communications and the Award of Special Merit from the Texas chapter of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. For the last six years, he has volunteered as co-host of Queer Voices, the LGBTQ public affairs program on KPFT/Pacifica radio which has chronicled Houston’s GLBTQ community for over four decades. In this role, he has striven to give a platform to voices marginalized by the mainstream media, conducting interviews with refugees, transgender leaders, immigrants and Black Lives Matters activists.
In 1999 and 2000, he served as chairman of the Houston Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, increasing funds raised by 400% and attendance by 50%. He has also emerged as a leader in his professional life, serving as director of marketing and public relations for Houston Ballet for 14 years and as a member of the board of directors of the Houston chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA) from 2011-2014. For AMA, he organized trainings to increase the skills of nonprofit marketing professionals, and he also managed the AMA Gives Back program, the philanthropic wing of AMA which provides grants to nonprofits in support of their marketing efforts. He was twice recognized as board member of the month by AMA Houston for his efforts.
(He / Him)
(He / Him) Travis Torrence is a lawyer, philanthropist, and community organizer who has dedicated his life to promoting justice, equity, and inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community in all its diversity. Travis currently serves as President-Elect of the Board of Directors of the National LGBTQ+ Bar Foundation, which focuses on legal issues that impact LGBTQ+ people, such as leading the effort to ban the LGBTQ+ “panic” defenses across the country and the discriminatory blood ban, which places limits on people assigned male at birth who have had sex with other people assigned male at birth from donating blood. Travis has also chaired numerous philanthropic events, including the World AIDS Day Luncheon (which raises funds for AIDS Foundation Houston), the Victory Fund Champagne Brunch (which works to increase the number of openly LGBTQ elected officials at all levels of government), the Montrose Center’s Out For Good Gala, Dining Out for Life, the Camp For All Gala, and the Houston Boychoir Luncheon. Travis also currently serves as Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Hollyfield Foundation, which fosters and protects individual rights and freedoms by providing direct and indirect funding to qualifying 501(c)3 organizations that work to prevent discrimination, educate and secure equal rights for LGBTQ+ people, and assist in health care issues for the community, particularly in the areas of HIV/AIDS education, care, and treatment.
Travis is also Past Chair of the Houston Bar Foundation and a member of the Board of Directors of the Texas Access to Justice Foundation and the Alley Theatre. He is also a member of the Yale Law School Fund Board and the Dean’s Advisory Council for Tulane University’s School of Liberal Arts and the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. He is a former member of the executive committee of the Board of Directors of the State Bar of Texas, former President of The Arthur L. Moller/David B. Foltz, Jr. American Inn of Court, former president of the Bo’s Place Board of Directors, and former member of the Board of Trustees of the Texas Bar Foundation. He has also served as Co-Chair of the Texas Minority Counsel Program and a member of the Board of Directors of AIDS Foundation Houston.
Travis Torrence serves as Global Litigation Bankruptcy & Credit Team Lead at Shell Oil Company, where he manages a team of attorneys and legal support professionals who handle all bankruptcy and credit legal issues for all of Shell’s business units in the United States and Canada. Travis is also a member of the Board of Directors of Premium Velocity Auto LLC, a wholly-owned, indirect subsidiary of Shell Oil Company. Travis graduated from Yale Law School in 2005 and received his undergraduate degree, summa cum laude, in Communication and Political Science from Tulane University. Prior to joining Shell, Travis was a senior associate at Fulbright & Jaworski LLP (now known as Norton Rose Fulbright) and served as a law clerk for the Honorable Edward C. Prado of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
A native New Orleanian, Travis is a former champion of Dancing With The Houston Stars and has been featured, along with several NFL players (including JJ Watt and Kareem Jackson) and local leaders, as a “celebrity model” for fashion shows during galas to benefit Bo’s Place. Travis previously worked as an on-air personality for B-97 FM; New Orleans’ #1 Hit Music Station. He lives in Oak Forest with his partner, Heath, and their goldendoodle, Grits!
Gender Non-Binary / Non-Confirming Grand Marshal Nominees
(They/ Them/ Theirs) Juliann Losey is originally from Alabama, where they also attended college and got their start in community engagement and advocacy. At the University of North Alabama, Juliann was the president of the Gay-Straight Alliance for the 2011-2012 year (now called the Student Alliance for Equality) and worked on initiatives to increase active membership by nearly 400%, and helped the organization participate in general campus activities like the Homecoming Parade and Step Show for the first time in the group’s then ten-year history. At UNA, Juliann also served as the Student Government Association Secretary for Diversity Affairs, and worked with faculty and staff to identify priority initiatives to make the campus more inclusive, all of which are actively in place on the campus today, including a Multicultural Center and Gender-Inclusive Restrooms across campus. In graduate school at Spring Hill College, Juliann served as the advisor for the campus LGBT student organization and facilitated Safe Zone trainings for students, faculty, and staff. During this time, they also served on the state board for Equality Alabama, and in that capacity also contributed support to local activist and non-profit organizations in Florence, AL and Mobile, AL.
After grad school (in 2015), Juliann moved to North Carolina to work at UNC Greensboro. There they also served as a coordinator for YouthSafe, a non-profit organization that provided LGBTQ youth with community building, after-school activities, and leadership development. Within their role at UNC Greensboro, Juliann started to develop more programming for students and student leaders around contemporary topics for the LGBTQ community, including a ‘Gender Reveal Party’ program that took an inclusive spin on the (then) new trend to explore the tenets of gender and the impact of the binary on society. “Gender Reveal Party” was requested by students across campus regularly and was facilitated nearly a dozen times in their role there. They also developed and facilitated other trainings around LGBTQ leadership, and then even had the privilege of presenting at a regional conference of Higher Education Professionals (SEAHO Conference) about non-binary and gender non-conforming students and staff experiences on college campuses, and some starting points for administrators to implement inclusion strategies for non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals.
In January 2021, Juliann began their current position as the Gender & Sexuality Education Program Manager at the University of Houston, where they have facilitated Cougar Ally Training and other LGBTQ awareness and allyship trainings to hundreds of UH faculty, staff, students, and community members. Juliann also has been guiding the Sexuality and Gender Alliance Squad (SAGA Squad), a leadership program rooted in LGBTQ student efforts at UH. Since campus has reopened for the 2021-2022 school year, Juliann has also had the opportunity to facilitate a number of community building events for LGBTQ+ and ally students at the University of Houston, which has felt more important than ever.
In August of 2021, Juliann was highlighted in OutSmart Magazine, and Juliann has done interviews with CoogRadio, Coogcast podcast, and Queer Voices, in an attempt to raise awareness of the resources that exist for LGBTQ students in the Houston area. Juliann is also currently in the 2022 cohort for the New Leaders Council Houston Chapter, where they are excited to take on new Houston LGBTQ+ initiatives through this progressive leadership program.
(They/ Them/ Theirs) Matty Gracia has lived in Houston all their life and grew up with a passion for seeking new perspectives and absorbing information. Over time, this seeker of knowledge ignited into an innate passion for instilling understanding within themself and others. After their first year at the University of Texas at Austin, Matty instilled in themself a dedication to being a positive influence to those within their communities and social spheres. During their time at UT Austin, Matty served as a student officer for organizations on campus such as Queer People of Color and Allies and Texas Standout where they honed their skills as a leader within the LGBTQ+ community. They advocated for various movements both on and off campus including establishing the first gender-inclusive housing campaign to implement more trans-friendly living accommodations in on-campus housing. Matty graduated from UT Austin in 2013 with a Bachelor’s in Women’s and Gender Studies along with a spot on the Dean’s List.
Matty moved back to Houston after completing their Bachelor’s degree in Austin, but they never abandoned their passion for social engagement and empowering other LGBTQ+ community members. In 2018, they were employed at the Montrose Center through the AmeriCorps VISTA program as a Volunteer Services VISTA. For the next year, they worked tirelessly helping with social events to help raise funds for the center’s various programs, including Hatch Youth and Seniors Preparing for Rainbow Years. Their main project, however, was upgrading the Montrose Center’s volunteer platform for the center’s 1,500 volunteers by integrating a new online program to offer more streamlined and efficient features for current and aspiring volunteers to get more involved with Montrose events and volunteer opportunities. Matty stayed with the Montrose Center until 2020, during which time they transitioned into a leadership role with the center and AmeriCorps to trains incoming VISTAs and instill within them the same drive to implement positive change within the community. Before their tenure ended, Matty founded a new support group at the Montrose Center called Beyond the Binary that empowers Houston-area trans and non-binary folks by offering a safe space for them to exist, ask questions, seek out resources, meet biweekly to engage with other community members, and continue along their paths of self-discovery with a little more affirmation to help them along.
These days, Matty is working with the Alliance for Multicultural Services as a Case Management Specialist for the Harris County Eviction Intervention Program. When they find free time (if they find free time), they enjoy delving into painting and drawing whatever subjects that jars their inspiration. In addition to being a talented artiste, Matty partakes in enjoying the finer things in life like a good Netflix movie, an enthralling book, a spine-tingling podcast, or hunting Pokemon with their friends.
(They/Them) Chip has been an outspoken activist, fundraiser, and social organizer in the LGBTQIA+ community for over 25 years. Early in their journey, Chip focused their passion on organizations like RAINN, helping build inclusive policies to make the network a safe space for trans and other non-conforming individuals. They have helped found several non-profit organizations, including the Bayou City Pups and the Space City Sisters, the Houston chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. You can often find Chip advocating for better and more accessible sexual awareness education, specifically around HIV/AIDS. Chip also organizes within their other communities, including the Jewish community and the Renaissance Faire circuit. They serve as an Ambassador for the Texas Renaissance Festival, where they provide tours for newcomers as part of a fundraising program for accessibility and support organizations such as RESCU and ASL Faire’s TX. Married in June 2020, Chip and their husband, Tank, are the owners of The Montrose Forge, a local small business located in Montrose. You may see Chip and their boy, Christian at various trivia nights or playing video games into the night. As a member of the Space City Sisters, you may see Sister Kitty out and about stirring up trouble while handing out safer sex packets and trying to bring a smile to the community that has given them so much.
Ally Grand Marshal Nominees
Danielle Houston, MSPH
Danielle’s interest in health and science started early in life, and she pursued her passion throughout her education. After receiving her BA in psychology from Boston University, she earned her MSPH from the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Her graduate work focused on the prevention and control of infectious diseases such of HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and Ebola. Initially, Danielle pursued her interests by studying malaria vaccine development in Cali, Colombia. In September 2008, Danielle began her HIV advocacy work at The Center for AIDS Information & Advocacy (The CFA). One of her great honors at The CFA was getting to lead Project LEAP. She joined the staff at Legacy Community Health Services (LCHS) in April of 2012 as part of a strategic merger between The CFA and LCHS.
Since 2009,Danielle has been deeply involved with advocacy around HIV cure research and promoting biomedical interventions as prevention (PrEP, PEP, and U=U). Danielle Houston joined Gilead Sciences in March 2017 to become a Community Liaison. In addition to strategically partnering with local organizations to improve care and outcomes, she is responsible for empowering communities by providing leadership and connecting them with appropriate resources. Danielle has been successful in her career by bridging her strong scientific and public health backgrounds to invigorate health literacy in HIV-vulnerable communities. Before joining Gilead, Ms. Houston was a panel member of the DHHS Antiretroviral Treatment Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents. As the Senior Program Manager of a national HIV organization (NMAC), she oversaw execution of the first National HIV PrEP Summit. She also created an innovative program, Strong Communities, to increase the capacity of community-based organizations and community health centers to combat HIV and related conditions in Black and Latinx, gay and bisexual men and transgender women across the Southern U.S. Danielle Houston is originally from Houston, TX and lives there with her adorable 15-pound terrier mix, Ginger. It’s not uncommon for Ginger to travel with Danielle on extended business trips.
Kailey Posterick is a Houston native who believes that allyship is a lifelong commitment based on consistency, trust, and accountability.
She currently works as an EMDR-trained licensed therapist for serious offenders involved in the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department. As a therapist, she is able to help youth process their trauma and develop healthy habits to reduce recidivism and achieve wellness. Her work is grounded in restorative justice and addressing the roots of judicial involvement, including poverty, bias, and systemic racism.
In addition to her work with clients, she has also trained HCJPD staff on allyship as it relates to supporting LGBTQ+ youth who are judicially-involved. As a result of this training, she recently co-created and launched a department-wide program titled, “Foundations of Equality and Equity: HCJPD Allyship Program”. By working with both clients and staff, she hopes to influence positive institutional change through policy enhancements, training, and transformative personal relationships.
Prior to her work with Harris County, she supported one of the most diverse student bodies in the country for over 5 years as an international admissions counselor and learning abroad advisor at the University of Houston. As an advisor she created her department’s diversity and identity abroad online resource center. Additionally, she collaborated with campus partners to host a series of annual events in which students and staff could engage in dialogue about the ways in which their identity may impact their time abroad.
In the community, she has served as an active member of Mayor Turner’s LGBTQ Advisory Board since 2018 in which she has contributed to event planning and resource development. Over the last four years she has delivered numerous trainings to students, educators, and mental health professionals with a special focus on turning allyship feelings to advocacy actions. She has also contributed to and presented research regarding counselor attitudes towards sexual orientation and behavior in 2015.
I was born and raised in Katy, TX – where GSA’s did not exist. My friends and I tried to start one but were denied. In 2006, I graduated from Cinco Ranch High School and left for college at Texas State University. In college I worked full-time at a restaurant and graduated in 2011 with a degree in Psychology and had a baby – the baby came first!
Everyone knows my daughter, Zoe, a budding social activist in her own right! After college I worked at an oil & gas company called ConocoPhillips where I joined their newly formed employee network for the LGBTQ+ community and allies. After volunteering in the kitchen one time at Montrose Grace Place I knew I wanted to get more involved in the work and signed on as a Direct Mentor where I worked to create healthy relationships with LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness. I also joined the MGP board as Treasurer. After a year as a Direct Mentor I was honored to become the Executive Director at Montrose Grace Place. Through my work at MGP we have provided over 13,000 meals to youth experiencing homelessness and expanded our reach to include more nights of service, more engaging activities, a reimagined boutique closet space, mutual aid, an emergency hotel fund, and our trans aid fund for our trans and gender non-binary youth. I’ve been honored to join many committees dedicated to supporting the LGBTQ+ community, and specifically youth experiencing homelessness.
Some of these groups include the Ending the HIV Epidemic Policy committee, the steering committee for the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Plan to end youth homelessness in Houston, the NEST initiative, and more. I routinely speak at city hall, and have spoken with multiple government officials and legislators to advocate for more funding to support LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness. In addition to and through my work with Montrose Grace Place I support other LGBTQ+ serving organizations, especially those working directly with the most underserved communities.