LGBT culture in Houston
Houston has a large and diverse LGBT population and is home to the 4th largest gay pride parade in the nation.
According to Ray Hill, a Montrose resident quoted in the Houston Press, before the 1970s, the city's gay bars were spread around Downtown Houston and what is now Midtown Houston. Gays and lesbians needed to have a place to socialize after the closing of the gay bars. They began going to Art Wren, a 24-hour restaurant in Montrose, a community of empty nesters and widows. LGBT community members were attracted to Montrose as a neighborhood after encountering it while patronizing Art Wren, and they began to gentrify the neighborhood and assist the widows with the maintenance of their houses. Within Montrose, new gay bars began to open. By 1985, the flavor and politics of the neighborhood were heavily influenced by the LGBT community. and in 1990, according to Hill, 19% of the residents of Montrose were LGBT. Paul Broussard was murdered in Montrose in 1991.
In the 2000s many LGBT individuals began moving to Westbury and several began referring to it as "Little Montrose". By 2009 some were also moving to Riverside Terrace. By 2011 many LGBT people moved to the Houston Heights and to suburbs in Greater Houston, and according to Hill, possibly less than 8% of Montrose's population was LGBT. Decentralization of Houston's LGBT population with the increasing LGBT acceptance in the city caused business at gay bars in Montrose to decline. Hill stated that "Gay bars used to be places where we had to go to get refuge because we were not welcome anywhere else. Well, guess what? There's nowhere we're not welcome anymore." The suburbs especially attracting gays are Pearland, Sugar Land, and Missouri City.
In February 2015 a 17-year-old gay student at Lutheran High School North reported that the school forced him to leave since he refused to take down YouTube videos discussing his sexuality. The school's executive director, Wayne Kramer, referred to the student handbook, which stated: "Lutheran High North reserves the right, within its sole discretion, to refuse admission of an applicant and/or to discontinue enrollment of a current student participating in, promoting, supporting or condoning: pornography, sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bisexual activity".
Jordan Blum of the Houston Chronicle stated in 2016 that levels of LGBT acceptance and discrimination vary throughout the Houston energy industry. Around the 1990s BP, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, and several other companies offered benefits and protection to LGBT employees equal to that of straight employees. According to Blum many LGBT-identifying persons told him that several companies have cultures non-supportive of LGBT-identifying persons and that some had "described thinly veiled or blatant discrimination." Blum stated that "In many ways, the energy sector mirrors Houston's dual identities - the diverse, innovative, big-business urban image clashing with a conservative culture, deeply rooted in Christian faith."
Politics and activism
Michael Ennis of the Texas Monthly stated in 1980 that within Texas, "gay political inroads" were "most visible" in Houston. In the October 1979 Village Voice Richard Goldstein wrote that due to the perceived threat from the "Christian right" in the area, gay people in Houston "take politics more seriously" than those in New York City.
In 1978 Steve Shifflet, a former Young Republican, became the head of the Houston Gay Political Caucus (HGPC). He advocated for using bloc-voting so gay people could get their preferred candidates. That year, the LGBT bloc-voted to put Mickey Leland in the Congressional seat formerly held by Barbara Jordan, and Leland personally thanked the HGPC.
In 1980 Montrose was in Texas Legislative District 79. That year, Ennis stated that according to "[l]ocal politicians" the district "will now go the way the gay vote goes."
In the fall 1979 election for Houston City Council, Eleanor Tinsley, a liberal, and Frank Mann, a conservative, competed for an at-large city council district. Tinsley attracted LGBT voters while Mann referred to them as "oddwads and queers" as a way of polarizing those opposing the LGBT community into voting for him. Due to the support of the LGBT community, Tinsley defeated Mann.
In 2002 voters in the City of Houston had passed Proposition 2, which outlawed the city government from giving same-sex partners of municipal employees benefits.
In 2010 Annise Parker, a lesbian woman, was voted Mayor of Houston, making that city the first large American city to vote an openly homosexual person as a mayor. This made Parker the LGBT official in the United States with the largest constituency. Parker had been elected to political offices in the city government six previous times. Miguel Bustillo of The Wall Street Journal stated that this occurred "with little controversy over her sexual preference". 
Charles Armstrong owns four gay clubs in Houston, with two of them being South Beach and Montrose Mining Company; Mandy Oaklander of the Houston Press wrote in 2011 that Armstrong's clubs were "the most successful clubs in Houston's gay scene".
In 2002 Jeremy Quittner of The Advocate wrote that "it would seem" one could be prevented from being in the "superelite" of Houston for being homosexual; he stated this in reference to Michael J. Kopper, the chief assistant of Enron CFO Andrew Fastow.
The Gay Men's Chorus of Houston is the premier predominately gay male chorus in the Houston metro. The men's chorus was founded in 1979 and has a predominately lesbian counterpart known as the Bayou City Women's Chorus. The women's chorus was established in 2005.
"Out at the Rodeo" week is held annually at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in March. During this week, there are several events acknowledging and celebrating the LGBT community in conjunction with the festival.
The Houston Gay Pride Parade is the largest pride parade in Texas. Pride Houston (parade organizers) has been able to attract approximately 200,000 spectators from Houston and beyond for the annual June event. For the first time since its inception, the parade has moved from Montrose to Downtown Houston for 2015. The reason cited for the move is that downtown has the space and resources to improve the quality and size of the event.
Houston's annual Gay and Lesbian Film Festival is organized by Qfest. Qfest was founded in 1996 and sponsors several events throughout the year.
Houston's Splash is established as one of the premier black gay and lesbian events in the country. The event began in 1995 and is held every second week in May. It is the largest event of its kind in the Gulf Coast Region and attracts thousands during its 5-day span of activities celebrating the black gay community.
The epicenter of Houston's gay community is the Montrose district.
Some Christian churches accept members of the LGBT community. In 2008 Reverend Dwayne Johnson, the pastor of the Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church, a church in the Houston Heights, stated that there were about 15-20 openly gay Christian clergy members in Houston.
Resurrection Metropolitan's main service group is the LGBT community. In 1980 the pastor was gay, and almost all of the congregation was LGBT. In December 2010 Reverend Harry Knox, a pro-LGBT activist, became the leader of the Resurrection Metropolitan. In 2011 Resurrection Metropolitan had 850 members.
In 1995 Grace Evangelican Lutheran Church began accepting LGBT members and became a "Reconciling in Christ" Lutheran church; it was founded in 1922. In 2008 Rene Garcia, a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), stated that she estimated that 40% of the members identified themselves as LGBT, with many of them coming from other Christian denominations such as Missouri Synod Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism.
The group Keshet Houston is a non-profit organization that connects Jewish LGBT people in the Houston area. They connect Jewish people with LGBT affirming synagogues as well as holding their own social and religious events. Keshet Houston has participated in the Houston Pride Parade since 2014, and in 2015 the first legally married same-sex couple from Texas rode on their float.
Houston has a large number of Muslim residents, constituting approximately 1.2% of the population. After the Pulse shooting that occurred in Orlando, Florida in June 2016, M.J. Khan, the president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston denounced the shooter, and said that the Muslim community stands in solidarity with LGBT people. The Council on American-Islamic Relations of Houston also hosted a blood drive to benefit those who had been hurt by the shooting.
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