Houston LGBT History Timeline

1990s

Year

In Houston/Texas

Other Events in United States
1990
Church groups, families, and—for the first time—corporate sponsors such as Budweiser, in addition to gay organizations and businesses, make up the 75 entries in the Pride Parade. Honorary Grand Marshals U.S. Congressman Craig Washington and Texas State Representative Debra Danburg give visible evidence of the growing political strength of Houston's gay community.

A new spate of violence against the community begins. On July 29, Michael James Burzinski is abducted outside the nightclub Heaven (where South Beach is now) by four youths from Aldine, Texas, and shot in the back of the head.

The State of Texas Courts determine that Section 21.06, the infamous "homosexual Conduct " statue, is unconstitutional as it violates Texans' rights to privacy

Gay & Lesbian Yellow Pages, Inc. formed Houston-based Corporation is the creation of its Publisher and CEO, Laura Villagran
The American Psychological Association stated that scientific evidence shows that “reparative” therapy does not work and that it can do more harm than good.

The first national Lesbian/Gay Writers Conference is held in San Francisco.

The Hate Crimes Statistic Act is signed into law by President George Bush. It is the first U.S. bill to use the phrase "sexual orientation."

Polk County Jail in Florida discontinued the practice of forcing gay inmates to wear pink bracelets to distinguish them from the rest of the prisoners.

U.S. law prohibiting Gay and Lesbian Immigration revoked
1991

Jack Valinski, Carol Clark and Brian Keever co-found the Pride Committee of Houston so that Pride could become a year-round project, separate from the Caucus.

July 4. Paul Broussard murdered, galvanizing the community.

August 30th Houston Post columnist, Juan R. Palomo, is dismissed from his job. He had planned on revealing his own sexual preference in a July 9th column decrying the lack of public outrage over the slaying of Paul Broussard, but the editors published a revised edition deleting the reference to his own homosexuality. When he discussed the conflict with his editors with the Houston Press, he was fired. Protests were led by supporters of Palomo’s from the Latino community and by Queer Nation Houston, which had formed in January. Thirty colleagues of his at the Post left their desks at deadline to pick up signs. Within the week, he was rehired. Q-Patrol, an affinity group began shortly after.

In response to the Broussard murder, the Houston Police Department start “Operation Vice Versa” an undercover sting operation in which officers posed as homosexuals. During the 15 days of "Operation Vice Versa," five undercover officers were attacked-sprayed with Mace and hit with a baseball bat and a tree branch. One policeman was punched in the face by a man who apologized after his arrest, saying he had thought the officer was "a damn queer."

LiB, Lesbians in Business formed, with Suzanne Anderson at the helm.

November 3. Phillip W. Smith, 24, shot outside Heaven at about 1:30 a.m. He died in Ben Taub Hospital about 3 a.m. of a gunshot wound to the chest. Three nights later a Queer Nation protest took place at the headquarters of the Houston Police Department.

Queer Nation activism, November 8, another protest, this time at City Hall.

Q-Patrol founded.

Founded in New Orleans in 1970, the Krewe of Olympus moved to Houston in 1991 and held its first ball the next year. Their chief aim is to present theatrical and educational events that perpetuate and continue Mardi Gras traditions and to raise money for community charities

State Representative Glen Maxey wins the run-off election to become the first openly gay official in the history of the state of Texas.

Texas Human Rights Foundation files a Friend of the Court Brief in the Texas Court of Appeals against the Texas Penal Code Section 21.06, the state's notorious anti-sodomy statue, while the Texas Attorney General pushes on with his appeal to have the law reinstated.

March 2. Transman pioneer Lou Sullivan dies from an AIDS-related illness
1992

Lesbian/Gay Pride Week in Houston gains 501 (C)(3) status and takes on the new name PRIDE Committee of Houston, Inc.It is set to operate as a year-round organization to plan, organize, and manage events in celebration of Gay and Lesbian Pride Week. As one of its first acts, the new board establishes the Founder's Award, which it presents to Larry Bagneris, former president of the Gay Political Caucus and, from its inception until his move back to his native New Orleans, the driving force behind the parade's form and structure. In keeping with the parade's theme, “Pride = Power,” and its emphasis on the volunteerism of the community, the Gay/Lesbian Switchboard of Houston (which has served as a clearinghouse for information about the gay community, its people, organizations and their events for the past decade) is chosen Honorary Grand Marshal and leads more than 80 units, including a group from Texas A&M University. State Representative Debra Danburg, Congressional candidate Ben Reyes, City Councilwoman Shelia Jackson Lee, and Harris Country Precinct 1 Constable Jack Abercia appear at the post-parade rally, evidence of the increasing acceptance of gays and the recognition of their political power.

September. First Annual Houston Transgender Unity Banquet began as a way for the different Trans Groups to find a cohesive place to unify and to rid the community of divisiveness.

LHI, the Lesbian Health Initiative began in 1992, reaching out to all LGBT women.

The National Gay Task Force leads demonstrations at the Republican National Convention in Houston, Texas, where Pat Buchanan has declared a culture war on gay and lesbian people.

October. While based in Austin, the publication Texas Triangle served all of Texas, lasting until around late 2004.

Keith Meinhold becomes the first member of the armed forces to return to active service following dismissal for homosexuality.

The first transgender activist group, Transgender Nation, founded as an offshoot of Queer Nation's San Francisco chapter

January 3, 1992 Transgender Pioneer Reed Erickson dies in Mexico

Roy Simmons the second professional football player to voluntarily come out

Sculptor George Segal's four statue work, collectively titled “Gay Liberation Monument,” unveiled in Christopher Park, NYC, near the site of the 1969 Stonewall Riots.
1993
Houston is the site of a national conference of Southern Baptists, which makes homosexuality a central theme and pledges to defeat politicians who support or tolerate homosexuality. Five city officials attend the parade or other Pride events, but Mayor Bob Lanier does not accept the invitation to join in.

PFLAG Houston is named first Organizational Grand Marshal to the Pride Parade

A Texas Court of Appeals affirms the invalidity of Section 21.06, the second such decision that will be appealed yet once again by proponents to the Texas Supreme Court.

In Williamson County, Texas commissioners reversed a decision to deny Apple Computer tax breaks for a new facility in the county because of its policy of extending benefits to employees' same-sex domestic partners. Several of the commissioners, however, continued to express condemnation of "the gay lifestyle."
Don't Ask, Don't Tell enacted

Roberta Achtenberg becomes the first openly openly gay person to be confirmed by the United States Senate for a major political post, Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Brandon Teena born Teena Renae Brandon lived as a transsexual man. He was raped and eventually murdered in Richardson County, Nebraska in one of the most infamous American hate crimes of the 1990s

Minnesota first state to have trans discrimination protection laws

National Public Radio in the US announced it would offer domestic partner medical and dental benefits to employees in same-sex relationships. The policy also included unmarried heterosexual couples.

Retired Episcopal bishop E. Otis Charles, 67, who had been bishop of Utah from 1971-1986, publicly comes out

The US Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from a former CIA employee who was fired for acknowledging he was gay
1994

Feb 15. Publisher Greg Jeu started Outsmart Magazine, a monthly classy endeavor, covering the news, culture and social aspects of the community.

September. The Houston Area Bears were formed, a social and service organization.

After the death due to AIDS of business and activist Jay Hollyfield, the Hollyfield Foundation was endowed by his estate

A hearing on discrimination against transgendered people took place in San Francisco before the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. It resulted in a paper on transsexual discrimination and unanimous passage by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors of an amendment to add gender identity to the list of those protected from discrimination.
1995
In recognition of Pride festivities, the Houston City Council approves the hanging of pink triangle banners along both sides of Westheimer through The Montrose.

First annual Houston Splash Black Gay Pride Event held
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act was re-introduced in Congress. H.R.C. demanded that transsexuals not be included in the legislation.

First FTM conference takes place in San Francisco

Students at East High School in Salt Lake City denied permission to form a Gay Straight Alliance. Students cited the Equal Access Act which requires that school districts either allow all extracurricular clubs or none at all. In 1996 the school board responded by voting 4 to 3 to ban every extracurricular club (The Salt Lake City district relented in 2000, agreeing to allow all clubs.)
1996

Candace Gingrich, the outspoken lesbian half-sister of Speaker of the House and gay rights foe Newt Gingrich, is named Grand Marshal of the Houston Pride Parade. The choice thrusts a national spotlight on Houston's parade and adds Houston's voice to the growing national demand that there be an end to civilly sanctioned discrimination.

Marvin Davis, a.k.a. Lady Victoria Lust, one of the community's biggest AIDS fundraisers and founder of the Lady Victoria Lust Holiday Fund, dies suddenly of a Pulmonary Aneurysm.

QFest begins in 1996, when a group of maverick arts organizations collaborated and created The First Annual Houston Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, better known as The HGLFF.

The Employment Nondiscrimination Act (EDNA) fails to pass in the U.S. Senate by just one vote.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) passes in the U.S. Senate by a wide margin, giving states the right to acknowledge or reject same sex unions from other states.

President Clinton announced his signing of a bill outlawing homosexual marriages, but said it should not be used as an excuse for discrimination, violence or intimidation against gays and lesbians.

Transgendered activists demonstrated outside the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association to protest the labeling of transgendered people as mentally ill

Cobb County Georgia commissioners voted 3-2 to repeal an anti-gay resolution it had passed in 1993 which declared homosexuality incompatible with community standards. It was in response to a decision by Olympic officials decision that because of the resolution the Olympic torch would not pass through Cobb county.
1997
After 20 years of a parade under the intense Texas sun, the Pride Committee works outside the box, and under its aptly chosen theme, “Glowing with Pride,” it introduces the nation's first nighttime Pride parade. More than 100 entries—over half of the floats illuminated with all forms of lighting—shine brightly in the night, and a jubilant crowd of 70,000, its goodwill even extending to the group of about 40 protesters from Heritage Baptist Church in Mount Enterprise, Texas, and Grace Baptist Church in Houston. The contrast couldn't have been greater: the protesters behind barricades set up by the Houston Police Department, the gays in the middle of the street, “Glowing With Pride.”

San Antonio’s first Pride Parade
The US Senate dealt a double defeat to gay-rights activists, voting to reject same-sex marriage in federal law and killing a separate bill that would have barred job discrimination against gays

An episode of Ellen titled "Roommates" aired. It was given an adult content warning because of a kiss between Ellen and another woman

National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce amends its mission statement to include Transgendered people
1998

January 2. Annise Parker was sworn in on City Council as the first openly gay or lesbian elected official in the city of Houston.

Shortly after taking office Mayor Lee Brown makes good on a campaign promise to issue an executive order reversing the referendum of 1985 and issues executive order 1-8 banning discrimination against gay city employees. Councilman Rob Todd filed an injunction against it which held it up in the courts for a number of years.

May. A Gay & Lesbian Community Center has had a rocky history in Houston (see MAC) and restarted in May by leasing a building at 403 Hawthorne, and relocating in early 2003 to 3400 Montrose, and when that building was condemned, to the Dow School at 1900 Kane. Financial pressures led to its final closing around March of 2012.

June. Han-Net was the first internet presence that connected Houston GLBT activists, run by Brandon Wolf, and having up to 250 members at one point. Ran from 1998 to 2003.

Tyrone Garner and John Lawrence are arrested while having consensual sex in their Harris County apartment complex, after a false report of an armed intruder was given to police, setting the stage for a constitutional challenge to Section 21.06

In Austin, Charles Edward Lowery successfully uses the "Gay Panic" self-defense claim to avoid being convicted of the brutal murder of deaf and mute gay man Pablo Zuniga saying that Pablo made unwanted passes at him and then told him to drop his pants and give him his wallet.

On the night of October 6-October 7, 1998 Matthew Wayne Shepard, a student at the University of Wyoming was fatally attacked near Laramie, Wyoming. The savage beating was due to his homosexuality.

Stonewall Democrats founded by Barney Frank, a gay Democratic member of the US. House of Representatives

Bi Pride Flag was unveiled at the BiCafe's first Anniversary Party on Dec. 5th 1998

PFLAG voted to include transgendered people in their mission statement

1999

January. Houston Stonewall Young Democrats formed.

A record-breaking crowd of 100,000 watches as the intersection of Montrose and Westheimer glows with the light reflected off a disco ball measuring 8 1 / 2 feet across. An idea envisioned by Lee Harrington, the disco ball is made possible by funding from Jim “Mattress Mac” McIngvale who rides in the parade on a float with diva Martha Wash.

GCAM (Gulf Coast Archives and Museum of GLBT History, Inc.) founded in October.

The Houston Transgender community and its supporters began observing the Transgender Day of Remebrance in November of 1999 through the efforts of Vanessa Edwards Foster. It was held on the steps of City Hall with a candlelight vigil and reading of the previous years victims. Later the event was moved indoors to the Holocaust Museum of Houston, which was a fitting location because transgendered people were among the first grouops singled out by the Nazis.The event quickly overwhelmed the available space at the Museum and has since been held on the University of Houston Campus.

Stonewall Inn added to the registry of Historical Landmarks

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force drops its endorsement of ENDA, because the legislation does not include Gender Identity.

Hillary Swank receives an Oscar for her portrayal of Brandon Teena in Boys Don't Cry

National Transgender Advocacy Coalition founded

California adopts a domestic partnership law

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