We ♥ Hou because it defies outsiders' expectations: The country's true meltingpot
Houston gets a bad rap. Despite being the fourth largest city in the nation, people perceive it as ugly, boring and unsophisticated. In other parts of the country, many believe that all Texans are barbecue-eating, horse-riding, George-W.-Bush-loving, Bible-thumping white people.
But the reality is quite different: Houston is a racial, ideological and religious melting pot unlike any other in the nation.
In many major cities, ethnic groups are divided into their respective neighborhoods: Chinatown, Little Italy, Little Moscow, etc. While Houston has similar communities — the Bellaire area comes to mind — diversity can also be found in the most unlikely places. My home in a very white, suburban neighborhood is less than five minutes away from the best Bosnian restaurant in the city: Café Pita +. With just a short drive down the Beltway, I can be at Hong Kong City Market to get my fix of all sorts of bizarre Asian foodstuffs and home goods. Also close by is Bijan’s Persian Grill, an authentic Persian restaurant sandwiched in between a mosque and a Jordanian grocery store.
The high school that I attend is almost entirely composed of white students from wealthy, conservative, Christian families, yet my friends and I regularly visit Pho Saigon and obscure taco trucks for lunch.
Houston’s diversity is not just racial and ethnic. It’s also ideological. Many refer to the city as “the buckle of the Bible belt,” which makes sense, considering that we are home to the largest church in the country. But Harris County went Democratic in the 2008 election, and the city is filled with wealthy Republicans and hipster Democrats alike.
The crazy Christians who stand outside of Lakewood Church with signs that read “God Hates Fags” make my blood boil, but I find it fascinating that one of the most vibrant gay districts in the country is just down the road.
It’s juxtapositions like this that make Houston the beautiful, unique metropolis that it is. The city is filled with artists, CEOs, hipsters, soccer moms, Muslims, Christians, Republicans, and Democrats alike. This real Houston is diverse Houston, and that’s why I love it.