history of Integrity/Houston takes some careful digging, aggravated
by the organization's
name changes over the years. According to their early flyers they
were formed in February 1970
as a service/fellowship organization, emphasizing the social, education
and service aspects
needed at that time. Activities at their meetings included guest speakers,
covered dish socials,
a community coffee. In the early years they met in a Catholic Church,
first calling itself a Dignity
group, but by 1973 (in a Houston Post article) had taken on the Integrity
But it was not a religious group.
And years of name confusion continued. By 1974 an Episcopal group
called Integrity had formed,
with chapters nationally. Locally, that group at times went by Episcopal
Integrity Houston, but often
there were two Integrity Houston groups. Both had newsletters and
regular meetings, and by June
of 1981 the non-religious group finally had enough, and changed its
name to Interact Houston.
For many years it could claim it was the oldest gay organization in
Houston, but by May 1987 had
finally run its course, with the last incarnation being an over-40s
What did they accomplish? They provided a social outlet for gays and
lesbians trying to find a
community that wasn't all that visible. Studying their early correspondence
files I was struck by the
large number of letters from people from all over the country just
trying to reach out, to make contact,
to find other gay people. It is hard to convey how difficult it was
in a pre-internet world to find each other.
For many years they published a newsletter called Because We Care.
The community coffeehouses
for years provided a social outlet, showing films of gay interest,
and they had a large variety of speakers
at meetings talking about gay history and social issues.
Though not by design political, prior to the formation of the Gay
Political Caucus in 1975 they filled a
political need and gave a workshop at Texas Gay Conference I (June
1974), complete with a workbook
guide on dealing with pubic officials. In 1978 they took ownership
of the gay archives and administered
those holdings for a number of years. From time to time they also
served as an umbrella organization
for a variety of groups, at least ten, such as the Montrose Singers,
the Montrose Cloggers, the Montrose
Symphonic Band, Families and Friends of Gays (an early PFLAG group),
and a lesbian group named
Choices, giving them all the benefit of tax exempt status. They played
an important role now often
forgotten in Houston's gay community.
interview with Interact members,
on 2/18/82, 16 min, Listen
goes to the Botts Collection, for allowing me to take
home a large box of these files so they could be studied and digitized.
from an excellent
article in Houston History Magazine about early I/H efforts