Houston LGBT History Timeline



In Houston/Texas

Other Events in United States
  May-The Daughters of Bilitis sponsor a national convention of lesbians, probably the first gathering focused on the topic of lesbianism in the U.S.

Virginia (Charles) Prince begins publishing Transvestia Magazine. She also founds Los Angeles' Hose and Heels Club and another organization that develops into Tri-Ess ("The Society for the Second Self"). These organizations are thought to be the first modern transgender support groups, and the magazine is the first publication for and by transgender people.
  Openly gay club singer Jose Sarria (founder of the Imperial Court system) ran for the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco by appealing exclusively to the gay community. Though he didn't win, the campaign was historic. See this link for a 2012 interview with Sarria, and more
  Illinois is the first state to decriminalize consensual sodomy, owing largely to the efforts of a heterosexual lawyer whose law school roommate had committed suicide because he was gay.

After the Black Cat Raid and the "gayola" scandals local bar owners start The Tavern Guild in San Francisco in an effort to fight police corruption. It is the first gay business association in the United States
Andy Ruth opened the dance bar Roaring Twenties in 1963, at 2215 W. Dallas, with manager Rita "Poppa Bear" Wanstrom. Publication of El Paso native John Rechy’s City of Night. A breakthrough in describing the underside of gay life

Barbara Gittings takes over publication of The Ladder

The Red Room, a club in business at 612 Hadley from 1964 until the Fall of 1974.

Council on Religion and the Homosexual founded in San Francisco.

July 2: President Johnson signs the “1964 Civil Rights Act” into law. The act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, but does not cover sexual orientation. Sex is added to the bill at the last minute to "poison" it, but it passes nonetheless. Courts later rule that sex does not include transsexuals.

Society for Individual Rights (SIR), formed in San Francisco by William Beardemphl, Jim Foster, Bill Plath, and others.

First demonstration for homosexual civil rights, NYC, September 19, 1964

The national convention of the American Civil Liberties Union modifies the organization’s position on sexual rights and opposes government interference in the private sex lives of consenting adults


Phil Johnson, Dallas, starts the Circle of Friends in Dallas. Although only social in nature, it is the first gay society in Texas. He also later founded the Gay Archives of Dallas, and was a prolific writer on GLBT Texas history.

With financial backing from El Paso-born trans pioneer Reed Erickson, one of the nation's first trans clinics opens in Johns Hopkins Hospital at The University of Texas Medical Branch, with a stated purpose to care for “gender dysphoric” patients.

August. The Albatross, with Editor Bob Eddy (owner of the bar Showboat), was a slim publication having the honor of being the first gay one in Houston, lasting into 1968.

Robert's Lafittes opens in Galveston, the oldest gay bar in Texas. It was already in business when mentioned in the 1965 publication Albatross.

April 25 Dewey's Lunch Counter, a popular downtown hangout spot for African-American GLBT youth in Philadelphia, had begun to refuse service to young patrons dressed in what they called 'non-conformist clothing.' On April 25, 1965, more than 150 people in 'non-conformist clothing' showed up and refused to leave.

May 25, 1965 - First openly gay demonstration for gay rights at the White House

July 4, 1965
A small group of conservatively dressed lesbians and gay men picket Independence Hall in Philadelphia in one of the first public demonstrations for gay rights

July 31, 1965
Lesbian and gay demonstrators picket the Pentagon to protest discrimination in the military

August 28, 1965
The State Department is picketed by gay and lesbian demonstrators for the first time

Virginia Prince is arrested for distributing "Transvestia" through the US Mail, starts public education effort in response.

Mattachine Society of NY, Sip-In, April 21, 1966

Compton Cafeteria Riot occurred in August

The Society for Individual Rights opens the first gay community center in the United States.

The National Planning Conference of Homophile Organizations (NACHO) holds the first national convention of gay and lesbian groups in San Francisco.

The premiere of The Group marks the first time the word "lesbian" is used in a Hollywood movie

Harry Benjamin
Publishes the Transexual Phenomenon

Vanguard, the the first known gay youth organization in the United States organized with the help of radical ministers working with Glide Memorial Methodist Church, a center for progressive social activism in the Tenderloin section of San Francisco


Rita Wanstrom opens the Houston Lesbian club The Roaring Sixties on June 23, 1967, at 2305 S.Shepherd (the location is now covered by a larger building).

Rita “Papa Bear” Wanstrom founds The Tumblebugs, a group of women who raise money to hire legendary lawyer Percy Foreman to defend those among their number who were arrested during a bar raid, for cross-dressing (fly front pants being illegal dress for females).

Promethean Society was formed by Rita Wanstrom, Ray Hill, David Patterson.

Opened in 1967, Manhattan's Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop was for a time the oldest gay bookstore in the world, finally closing in 2009

The Student Homophile League of Columbia University becomes the first gay group to obtain a campus charter

Promethean Society founders attend the 4th annual conference of NACHO (North American Conference of Homophile Organizations-originally the North American Homophile Conference) in Chicago. The Resolution is passed to adopt "Gay as Good" as the slogan for the homophile movement.

When the Promethean Society floundered Rita Wanstrom founded the Texas Homophile Educational Movement, THEM, which was short-lived but was the state's first chartered homosexual organization.

The first Transgender organization in Houston, a branch of The Foundation for Personal Expression (FPE) is established.

Bar, The Galleon, opened March 1968, in business on Richmond Ave until Sept 1989.

In its official listing of mental disorders, the American Psychiatric Association re-categorizes homosexuality as a "sexual deviation" or a non-psychotic mental disorder" Previously, the group has considered homosexuality a "sociopathic" disorder.

The Rev. Troy Perry founds the Metropolitan Community Church of Los Angeles. The first branch of the now-international Metropolitan Community Church, which has a primarily gay and lesbian membership.
See link for Houston early info

National Transsexual Counseling Unit founded in San Francisco. The first such peer-run support and advocacy organization in the world.

Boys in the Band the first play to deal with openly gay characters opened on April 14, 1968 at Theater Four in New York where it ran for 1000 performances, becoming a film in 1970
Miss Camp America founded in Houston

The Texas Conference of Churches formed
June 28,1969 The Stonewall Riots occur

July 4. The Daughters of Bilitis and Mattachine Society members picket Independence Hall in Philadelphia for the fifth and last time

July 27. The Mattachine Society of New York held a one-month after Stonewall rally in Washington Square park. It urged people to be open and to wear a lavender armband. Marshals would wear lavender sashes. Three or four hundred people showed up at what was the first Post-Stonewall gay pride rally

September 3. The American Sociological Association condemns "oppressive actions against any persons for reasons of sexual preference." It is the first national professional organization to voice support of gay and lesbian civil rights

Under the leadership of Fr. Patrick Nidorf, OSA, Dignity begins as a counseling group in San Diego

1940s & Prior