Houston LGBT History Timeline

1980s

Year

In Houston/Texas

Other Events in United States
1980

May. Organized in November 1979, the Montrose Sports Association got non-profit status in May 1980, and covered a variety of sports, like softball, bowling, tennis and volleyball. The Monstrose Softball League broke away from MSA in 1983, forming its own organization.

June 28 Fred Paez shot and killed by an off duty HPD officer

A pride week bar raid at Mary's results in 61 arrests, including two lesbian bystanders who are outside the bar. A few days later, many of those arrested were proudly sporting “Mary's Fairies Out of Jail” T-shirts.

Houston Pride Week grows to a 10-day celebration. The first Pride Guide, with a schedule of events, political editorials, and historical information about the Houston community was published. The parade starts in the parking lot of The Old Plantation, a club located at 2020 Kipling. Admiral Linen Service now occupies the building.

August 12th Due to the extraordinary work of Phyllis Randolph-Frye Houston city ordinance 28.42.4, criminalizing crossdressing, is repealed.

October 17-19. Seventh Texas Gay Conference held in Denton

Ken Horne is the first person with AIDS (then called Kaposi's sarcoma) to report to the Center for Disease Control

The Human Rights Campaign Founded in Washington, D.C.

Joanna Clark (now Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark) organizes the ACLU Trans Rights Committee

Audre Lorde, Barbara Smith, and several other lesbians co-founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, the first U.S. publisher for women of color

The term gender identity disorder (GID) first appeared in the American Psychological Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3rd Edition) (DSM-III)

1981
November 2, 1981 Houston's Gay Political Caucus is covered in a story in the New York Times

The Montrose Clinic opens its doors to the Houston GLBT community to combat the growing threat of HIV/AIDS. Over the many years it evolved in Legacy Community Health Services.

Sep 4-6. Eighth Texas Gay Conference held in Houston. GayToday editor Jack Nichols delivered a keynote speech, entitled The Gay Tradition

Kindred Spirits. A long-time and historic Houston lesbian bar, open from Sept 1981 until May 1989. It was owned by Marion Coleman, who was an amazing community leader participating in the Pride and Political Caucus organizations, among others, and eventually forming the Kindred Spirits Foundation

October. Club Scene magazine, a small-sized publication catering to the leather scene, lasting through 1984.

Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches annual meeting held at the Shamrock Hilton Hotel in Houston, TX.

Individual PFLAG chapters from around the country join together to create a unified national organization.

Ebony magazine poses the question, "Is Homosexuality a Threat to the Black Family?" (The article concludes that it is not.)

1982
Judge Jerry Buckmeyer overturns Section 21.06, the "Homosexual Conduct" law though it will be repealed repeatedly by the state for years to come.

AIDS Foundation Houston is formed to educate and help those with HIV/AIDS

“Towards a healthier gay lifestyle : Kaposi's sarcoma, opportunistic infections, and the urban gay life : what you need to know to ensure your good health” published by the Citizens for Human Equality, located in Houston. It is the earliest pamphlet on safe sex published for the gay community. 21 pages.

May. The club JRs opens at 808 Pacific and is one of the longest-running bars in Houston.

Mayor Kathy Whitmire appears at the Pride Week Rally in Spotts Park, along with other Houston politicos, including City Council members George Greanias, Dale Groczynski, and Jim Greenwood, as well as Lance Lalor (the City Comptroller), Mike Driscoll (Harris Country Attorney), and Debra Danburg (State Representative District 79).

Sep 3-5. Ninth Texas Gay Conference held in Houston

November. The Ripcord opens on 715 Fairview, oriented to the leather crowd.

February 25. Wisconsin becomes the first state to approve civil rights protection for lesbians and gay men.

April 13. Los Angeles: US Congress representatives open the first committee hearings on the disease that will come to be known as AIDS.

July 27. Gay community leaders, federal bureaucrats and the investigative team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meet in Washington. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, or AIDS, is chosen as the name for the disease that had been labeled gay-related immune deficiency, or GRID, by some people, gay cancer by others

October 1. Former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Glenn Burke becomes the first professional baseball player to come out

Coors beer sues gay activist Howard Wallace over his successful organization of the 1970s boycott of Coors products by the GLBT community.

The first Gay Games are staged at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco from August 28 to September 5, with 1,300 athletes competing in 16 sports. (At this time it was still called the "Gay Olympics" --- the U. S. Olympic Committee later sued for trademark infringement, and won.)

The Center for Disease Control replaces the acronym GRIDS (Gay Related Immune Deficiency Syndrome) with AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)

1983
Tina Turner headlines for the Houston Gay Pride Rally at the Summit.

A federal Court ruling that struck down Texas’ (the 26th state to legalize consensual gay sex between adults) homosexual conduct bill went under appeal and legislation to re-criminalize gay sex was introduced into the state legislature

Wisconsin became the 27th state to legalize consensual gay sex between adults.

The U.S. House of Representatives votes to officially censure Rep. Gerry Studds after becoming the first member of Congress to come out.

August 21. La Cage aux Folles opens on Broadway to rave reviews and $4 million in advance ticket sales. With a book written by Harvey Fierstein, La Cage is a romantic musical comedy based on a popular French film about two male lovers, the manager and the leading star of a nightclub featuring female impersonators.

August 22, Organizers of a Washington march marking the 20th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech announce that no representatives from gay or lesbian rights groups will be allowed to speak. A group of lesbians and gay men stage a sit-in at the organizers' office in response.

All My Children features the first lesbian character in soap opera history

1984
Early in June, City Councilman Anthony Hall's introduces an amendment to prohibiting discrimination, in city employment, on the grounds of sexual orientation. Houston City Council passes the measure. Opposition is very vocal.

A Houston chapter of the National Leather Association was inititated in April 1984 for the leather/BDSM/Fetish community.

June 9. Escorted by 800 members of the Houston Police Department (at a cost of an estimated $80,000), fifty-five members of the Ku Klux Klan march up Westheimer, through the Montrose area, in a fight to deny equal rights to the gay community. Even though most members of the gay community purposely boycotted the demonstration, the Klansmen were jeered by roughly 2,000 counterdemonstrators.

An editorial in the Texas Daily News regarding the anti-gay rally by the Ku Klux Klan reads, “Given a choice between sharing a park with homosexuals or a bunch of white-sheeted, racist, hate-peddling losers, we think we would prefer homosexuals."

Mayor Kathy Whitmire delivers the first City Proclamation declaring the week Gay Pride Week

“Unity and More in '84” is the theme for the June 24 parade, which is the largest and most lavish yet. A record 100,000 view 54 entries. In the meantime opponents of the antidiscrimination ordinance obtain the necessary signatures to force a referendum that is set for January.

The appeal for reinstating the "Homosexual Conduct" law, Section 21.06, is denied but would be appealed by the state yet again

July. The Houston Outdoor Group (HOGS) formed, organizing outings in a variety of areas, still active as of 2015.

The Imperial Court of the Single Star (now The Royal, Sovereign, Imperial Court of the Single Star of Houston, Inc., ERSICSS) founded

DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS)is founded by Patricia Green and Larry Pond to mobilize the immense resources of the various design communities to provide HIV/AIDS services and education programs in the United States.

First Texas Gay Rodeo takes place on the first week-end of November in a rodeo arena in Simonton, about 40 miles west of Houston.

Last Texas Gay Conference held.

Brothers debuts as the first television show in the United States with a gay lead character.
1985

January. A referendum to repeal the city's non-discrimination ordinance of 1984 passes with an overwhelmingly 82 percent vote.

January. Houston Forum (later, Texas Forum) newspaper began, lasting until April 1987.

Mayor Kathy Whitmire tours several gay bars to thank gay voters for their support in her re-election only to be verbally attacked in City Council as a gay-friendly barmaid who was "slipping and slithering over sticky semen-coated floors."

June 5th At the City Council meeting Dr. Steven Hotze announced he was assembling 10,000 signatures on a petition to force the mayor and council members not to attend this year’s Gay Pride Parade…if they attended they would be “endorsing the homosexual lifestyle and pornography.”

The Parade Route was lined with American and Texan flags which stayed up through the fourth of July. The flags were purchased from the International Flag Co. through the underwriting of the Black Eyed Pea Restaurant.

Then Police Chief Lee Brown meets with the gay community to discuss harassment of gays by the Police Department and the existence of an infamous "fag list" of gay individuals specifically singled out for harassment.

June. Womynspace / Wand begun, lesbian feminist newsletters, lasting through 1996.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Section 21.06 "Homosexual Conduct" law as constitutional stating that it does not violate federal privacy rights, thus overturning the lower court's decision in 1982.

October 24 Louie Welch, trailing in a bid to defeat incumbent mayor Kathy Whitmire, made one of Houston´s most famous political gaffes. When he thought a microphone was off, he said on live television that the solution to AIDS would be to “shoot the queers.” By the next morning, people were wearing T-shirts that said “LOUIE, DON´T SHOOT!” Welch and the Straight Slate were unsuccessful.”

First Pride week in Abilene, TX

Newsweek writes that support for legal protection for gays is "politically hazardous in the AIDS-altered climate" of the period.

Pivotal year for Oscars: Vanessa Redgrave is the first woman to be nominated for Best Actress playing a lesbian role in The Bostonians and The Times of Harvey Milk wins Best Documentary (first documentary on a gay subject to do so). An estimated 1 billion viewers hear its director, Robert Epstein, express his thanks to, "my partner in life, John Wright."

It is revealed that actor Rock Hudson has AIDS.

1986

March 11. Club owner and community welfare activist Marion Pantzer is shot to death in her bar during a robbery, sending the community into shock and grief.

All but one Board member of the Pride Committee, then known as the Houston Gay Pride Week Committee, resign over a controversy over T-shirts but the Pride Celebration still goes on as scheduled.

The rainbow used as a logo for the Houston parade for the first time.

The Texas Supreme Court rules that Section 21.06, the "Homosexual Conduct" law is constitutional and reinstates the law once again making homosexual activity in Texas a criminal offense

Lobo Bookstore opened, providing sources for legitimate book in Houston from 1986 through 2004. A Dallas branch was open from 1973 to 1990. Both bowed to the declining feasibility of stores during a digital age of distribution.

Texas Health Department moves to have people with AIDS "quarantined" as a way to stop the spread of the deadly disease, until gay lobbyist show how it would not help

August. Omega House opens at 616 Branard, an AIDS hospice, still serving today, though under the umbrella of Bering Omega Community Services.

An affiliation between the University of Texas System and American Medical International Inc., a private hospital corporation, results in the opening of the Institute for Immunological Disorders the nation's first the nations first AIDS hospital, in Houston.

June. Heartsong, a mostly lesbian chorus formed, considered for a while to be the sister chorus for the Houston Gay Men's Chorus. The group gave many concerts through at least 1995.

Austin Texas passed an ordinance prohibiting discrimination against people with AIDS

"Steven Joachim filed a suit claiming sexual orientation discrimination in AT&T's decision to dismiss him, AT&T argued that the policy in its employee handbook did not create a contractual obligation. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed -- finding under Texas law that AT&T's "employee handbooks ‘constituted no more than general guidelines,' and did not create a contractual right in the employees."" Highlighting the necessity for the pasage of ENDA. See this artilce by Professor Ian Ayers

The United States Supreme Court rules to uphold Georgia's sodomy law in the case of Bowers vs. Hardwick ; overturned in 2003 by Lawrence v Texas.

Cleve Jones begins the AIDs Memorial Quilt project

The first Oscar awarded to an actor in a GLBT role was presented to William Hurt for his role in Kiss of the Spider Woman.

Delta Lambda Phi (national social fraternity for gay, bisexual, and progressive men) founded by Vernon L. Strickland, III, in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Louis Graydon Sullivan founds Female-To-Male International

1987

October-LOAF (Lesbians Over the Age of Fifty) holds its first meeting is held at Womynspace. President and Founder of LOAF is Arden Eversmeyer.

Pride Week begins with bar raids by the Houston Police Department. On three consecutive nights, officers raid Michael's, Chutes, and the JOE Club, arresting patrons, staff, and male dancers. HGLPC leadership holds a press conference, announcing its intention to meet with Mayor Whitmire and Police Chief Brown and declaring that Houston's gay community will not be silenced by intimidation.

Parade organizers request that money usually spent on parade floats be redirected to AIDS services.

Hatch Youth formed in 1987 to meet the needs for sexual minority adolescents between the ages of 13 and 20. Today, Hatch Youth is a program of the Montrose Center, a nonprofit 501c3 organization.

The word ‘lesbian’ included in the title of the Houston festivities for the first time

June 15. Houston v. Hill a 1987 U.S. Supreme Court case. The case presented the question whether a citizen may verbally challenge the police -- as in Ray Hill's query to a Houston officer of "Why don't you pick on somebody your own size?" -- without fear of arrest. Mr. Hill won.

September 6. "After Hours" radio debuts on KPFT.

L.O.A.F. "Lesbians Over the Age Fifty" has first meeting in Oct 1987

The Assistance Fund founded

For the first time in Texas politics, openly gay candidates ran for office across the state, showing that gays could run and win public office.

Over 750, 000 GLBT people march on Washington D.C. demanding equal civil rights for the community to the chant of "What do we want? Gay Rights! We've got the power to fight back!"

Flamboyant, yet still closeted, entertainer Liberace died of HIV/AIDS, leaving behind an entertainment legacy few can forget.

Congressman Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) comes out.

The Minnesota Supreme Court refused to rule on the constitutionality of the state's sodomy law, which allowed the law to remain on the books.

1988
The massive NAMES Project AIDS Memorial quilt is displayed in Houston for the first time

Local Houston physicians establish Body Positive in response to the growing number of people living HIV positive.

The annual musical event benefiting non-profit HIV/AIDS service organizations, Halloween Magic produces their first freewheeling spoof, liberally mixing elements of a popular musical with contemporary references straight from entertainment and news headlines

Upon being approached by the Human Rights Campaign Fund, Jay Hollyfield agreed to organize a dinner. With the help of Gene Harrington, Monte Front and Scott Holman, the first Black Tie Dinner was held in the Tony’s Wine Cellar.

The Houston parade honors its first honorary grand marshals, slain San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected public official (represented at the parade by San Francisco Supervisor Harry Britt-a native Houstonian), and Sharon Kowalski (represented by an empty wheelchair), the young lesbian whose family separates her from her lover Karen Thompson after she is profoundly disabled in a 1983 auto accident.

November 28 A Dallas judge sentences the killer of two gay men to 30 years in prison instead of a life sentence because, as he later tells the Dallas Times Herald, "I don't much care for queers cruising the streets." The Dallas Gay Alliance joins political leaders across the country in protesting the judge's decision.

December. Pokey Anderson and Annise Parker open Inklings Bookstore, a social and more resource. It closed in 1997.

October 11th First National Coming Out day celebrated

World AIDS Day is created to bring a message of compassion and hope throughout the world.

In a Senate floor debate over appropriations for AIDS services, always controversial U.S. Senator Jesse Helms said of a person with AIDS: "If they had a father who was worth a damn, he would not have gotten AIDS."

Father John J. McNeill expelled by the Vatican from the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) for challenging the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on the issue of homosexuality, and for refusing to give up his ministry and psychotherapy practice to gay men and lesbians.

1989

Mica England goes before the Dallas City Council, then debating whether or not to support students in China who were taking a stand for democracy. She tells them that she has been turned down for service to the Dallas Police Department because she is openly a lesbian. She posed the question, "Why is there no democracy for me in Dallas?”

May. Amigos Volunteers in Education and Services (AVES) formed. The mission of AVES, Inc. is to promote a healthy community through education, disease prevention, advocacy, and direct care to Latinos and other historically underserved populations.

January 28. Thomas Charles Hammerton, a gay man, is stabbed to death in the street near his home in the Hyde Park area of Montrose with no know motive or suspects.

The parade, celebrating Stonewall 20, is the largest ever with 60 entries, including the Lone Star Band of Houston and the Oak Lawn Band of Dallas combined as one marching unit. There are 14 big floats, two dozen marching units, two dozen vehicle entries, and walking contingents. The one-hour parade is broadcast live on KPFT-FM, and an airplane sponsored by Mother's Bar flies overhead trailing a streamer that reads “Gay & Proud.”

Pat Robertson forms the powerful conservative political organization known as the Christian Coalition, saying gays should be rounded up and executed.

The Moral Majority is dissolved.

Teacher Kevin Jennings helps his students form the first

Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) school club in Concord, Massachusetts

The United States postal service issues the first "Lesbian and Gay Pride" postage stamp.

Memphis, TN First Gay and Lesbian Community Center opened.

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