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POKEY ANDERSON

It is a bit difficult to sum up the activism of Pokey Anderson, mainly because starting in the mid-1970s it went in so many different directions and touched so many areas.

She had been active in college in feminism which slowly evolved after moving to Houston in 1972. In 1973 she attended the National Women's Political Caucus at the Rice Hotel. The convention had a workshop devoted to sexual orientation, where she learned about the Montrose Gaze Community Center (504 Fairview at Whitney). At that time in Houston the gay & lesbian community was small and she gradually met others at Gaze and the lesbian club Roaring Sixties. She moved around various groups where she felt useful.

An important step occurred in 1975. She had heard that a San Francisco group was trying to use block voting to elect gay-friendly candidates, so in June of 1975 Keith McGee, Bill Buie and Hugh Crell met to form the Gay Political Caucus. Its purpose was to endorse political candidates and help channel activism efforts. The Caucus remains today as one of the city's most vital LGBT organizations.

With her Caucus photo in the Houston Chronicle, she was definitely out of the closet. Especially with her speaking engagements, radio appearances and visibility in a number of groups, Anderson was perhaps the first openly lesbian activist known to the public in the city.

Pokey Anderson was a member of the first delegation of LGBT Americans to be invited for a meeting at the White House, on March 26, 1977, meeting with one of President Carter's top aides, Midge Costanza. This was just three months before Anita Bryant brought her bigotry campaign to Houston and galvanized the community.

As stated, her activism took many forms. She was a staff member of the lesbian/feminist publication Pointblank Times, begun in 1975. In 1979 KPFT's Breakthrough radio show was focusing on the lesbian/feminist listener area and she and co-host Cherry Wolf took over the show around 1981. That show lasted until the end of 1992.

She was a part of Hazelwitch Productions, which was formed in the mid-1980s to produce cultural events entertaining and empowering the lesbian/feminist community. And, in 1984 she was honored as Female Grand Marshal at the Houston Pride Parade.

Another important step was in 1988, when she and Annise Parker opened Inklings Bookshop, on Richmond Avenue, which not only was a resource for lesbian and gay literature and music, but for providing a visible mecca. There was no community center at the time so the store served some of those functions, in terms of networking. It was open just over nine years. If you could summarize Anderson's contributions to the LGBT history, a common element in all of her work was that it was designed to bring together the community, and Houston is much richer for that.