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QUEER NATION - HOUSTON

The first Queer Nation chapter -- an offshoot of ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power - was founded in New York in early 1990 to specifically combat homophobia. Queer Nation Houston (QN) was launched in January 1991 by local activists, including former Houston Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus President David Fowler and attorney John Paul Barnich. QN was grassroots, democratic, and based on direct action.

LGBT visibility was minimal in the mass media and existing representations were mostly negative. Among QN's first actions in early 1991 were a banner hanging ("We're Queer!") over the Southwest Freeway bridges; a demonstration against bigoted comedian Andrew Dice Clay's performance at the Summit; and a contingent in that year's pride parade.

Paul Broussard was beaten to death on July 4. QN's Take Back the Streets march the following week brought out 2,000 people outraged at this vicious, antigay murder. Yielding to pressure from LGBT communities, Houston police sent undercover officers into Montrose in "Operation Vice-Versa". Officers were attacked in multiple incidents, because they were perceived as gay; more than fifteen people were arrested over a mere two weeks. This revealed, for (the many) skeptics, the homophobic violence prevalent at that time.

QN membership swelled into the hundreds.

AIDS actions included distribution of condoms and safer-sex information.
QN also organized protests against M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, which had removed operating room nurse Bryan Bradley from his position because he was HIV-positive, and City Councilman John Goodner, who had called for quarantining people with HIV.

With ACT UP chapters from around the country, QN organized major demonstrations against the 1992 Republican National Convention, held at
the Houston Astrodome - and at which Patrick Buchanan's notorious,
keynote "culture war" speech initiated a fifteen-year wave of increasingly anti-gay politics.

During the Convention, anti-abortion extremists from Operation Rescue descended on Houston, as part of their long-running campaign to physically blockade women's health clinics. QN supported ongoing efforts to defend local clinics and the right to abortion.

Amidst increasing disarray in queer and AIDS movements nationally, Queer Nation Houston folded in 1993.

By Paul Mullan

Link to Queer Nation section of HoustonLGBTHistory.org