LGBT culture in Houston

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Houston has a large and diverse LGBT population, and is home to 4th the largest gay pride parade in the nation.

History[edit]

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. Homosexuals 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.[1] By 1985, the flavor and politics of the neighborhood were heavily influenced by the LGBT community.[1] and in 1990, according to Hill, 19% of the residents of Montrose were homosexual.[1] Paul Broussard was murdered in Montrose in 1991.[1]

By 2011 many homosexual 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 gay. Decentralization of Houston's homosexual population with the increasing acceptance of homosexuality 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."[2] The suburbs especially attracting gays are Pearland, Sugar Land, and Missouri City.[citation needed]

In February 2015 a 17-year old homosexual 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.[3] 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".[4]

Institutions[edit]

The Dow School, the headquarters of the Houston GLBT Community Center

The Houston GLBT Community Center is located in the Dow School in the Sixth Ward of Houston.[5]

The Montrose Center is a LGBT community center located in the Montrose district of Houston.[6]

Politics and Activism[edit]

Michael Ennis of the Texas Monthly stated in 1980 that that within Texas, "gay political inroads" were "most visible" in Houston.[7] 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.[7]

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.[8]

In 1979 Montrose became included in a single-member Houston City Council district and therefore increasing LGBT political representation.[9]

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."[9]

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.[9]

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.[10]

In 2010 Annise Parker, a lesbian, was voted Mayor of Houston, making that city the first large American city to vote an openly homosexual person as a mayor.[11][12] This made Parker the LGBT official in the United States with the largest constituency.[13] 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". [14]

The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) gave transgender women the right to use women's restrooms. Christian groups opposed the ordinance. Opponents gathered 50,000 votes on a petition to have it recalled.[15]

Media[edit]

OutSmart is a monthly LGBT magazine in Houston.[16]

Culture[edit]

In previous eras, area homosexuals attended gay rock and roll clubs. By 1980, homosexuals in Houston were still going to disco clubs, while among the straight people disco was a fad.[17]

Charles Armstrong owns four gay clubs in Houston,[18] with one of them being South Beach;[19] Mandy Oaklander of the Houston Press wrote in 2011 that they were "the most successful clubs in Houston's gay scene".[18]

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 a homosexual;[20] he stated this in reference to Michael J. Kopper, the chief assistant of Enron CFO Andrew Fastow.[10]

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.[21]

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.[22]

Houston's gay and lesbian film festival is organized by Qfest. Qfest was founded in 1996 and sponsors several events through out the year.[23]

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.[24]

The epicenter of Houston's gay community is the Montrose district.

Religion[edit]

The LGBT flag at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Houston indicates that the church welcomes LGBT-identifying persons

Some Christian churches accept members of the LGBT community.[25] In 2008 Reverend Dwayne Johnson, the pastor of the Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church,[26] a church in the Houston Heights,[25] stated that there were about 15-20 openly gay Christian clergy members in Houston.[26]

Resurrection Metropolitan's main service group is the LGBT community.[26] In 1980 the pastor was gay, and almost all of the congregation was LGBT.[27] In December 2010 Reverend Harry Knox, a pro-LGBT activist, became the leader of the Resurrection Metropolitan. In 2011 Resurrection Metropolitan had 850 members.[25]

In 1995 Grace Evangelican Lutheran Church began accepting LGBT members and became a "Reconciling in Christ" Lutheran church; it was originally 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.[26]

In 2008 pro-LGBT activist Jay Bakker argued that Joel Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church, should speak out in favor of the LGBT community, and invited him to join his group in a picnic.[28]

Notable residents[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Oaklander, Mandy. "The Mayor of Montrose." Houston Press. 18 May 2011. 2. Retrieved on May 18, 2011.
  2. ^ Oaklander, Mandy. "The Mayor of Montrose." Houston Press. 18 May 2011. 4. Retrieved on May 18, 2011.
  3. ^ Hastings, Deborah. "Houston 17-year-old says Lutheran school booted him for coming out of the closet." New York Daily News. Saturday February 7, 2015. Retrieved on February 10, 2015.
  4. ^ Wright, John. "Houston School Responds To Gay Student’s Viral Video." Texas Observer. Thursday February 5, 2015. Retrieved on February 10, 2015.
  5. ^ "glbtcc_banner_V4.png" (Archive). Houston GLBT Community Center. Retrieved on May 9, 2014. "In The Historic Dow School Old Sixth Ward Historic District 1900 Kane Street, Houston, Texas 77007"
  6. ^ http://www.montrosecenter.org/hub/
  7. ^ a b Ennis, Michael. "What do these Rugged Texas He-Men Have in Common?". Texas Monthly. June 1980. Volume 8, No. 6. ISSN 0148-7736. Start page: 107. Cited: p. 213. Retrieved from Google Books on May 9, 2014.
  8. ^ Ennis, Michael. "What do these Rugged Texas He-Men Have in Common?". Texas Monthly. June 1980. Volume 8, No. 6. ISSN 0148-7736. Start page: 107. Cited: p. 213-214. Retrieved from Google Books on May 9, 2014.
  9. ^ a b c Ennis, Michael. "What do these Rugged Texas He-Men Have in Common?". Texas Monthly. June 1980. Volume 8, No. 6. ISSN 0148-7736. Start page: 107. Cited: p. 214. Retrieved from Google Books on May 9, 2014.
  10. ^ a b Quittner, Jeremy. "Odd Man Out at Enron." The Advocate. Here Publishing, October 15, 2002. No. 874 ISSN 0001-8996. p. 30. Retrieved from Google Books on May 10, 2014.
  11. ^ Olson, Bradley (December 13, 2009). "Annise Parker elected Houston's next mayor". Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on December 17, 2009. Retrieved December 13, 2009.  "Annise Danette Parker was elected mayor of Houston on Saturday, winning her seventh consecutive city election and becoming both the first contender in a generation to defeat the hand-picked candidate of Houston's business establishment and the first openly gay person to lead a major U.S. city."
  12. ^ James C. McKinley Jr (December 12, 2009). "Houston Is Largest City to Elect Openly Gay Mayor". New York Times. Archived from the original on December 14, 2009. Retrieved December 13, 2009.  "Houston became the largest city in the United States to elect an openly gay mayor on Saturday night, as voters gave a solid victory to the city controller, Annise Parker."
  13. ^ Haider-Markel, Donald P. and Chelsie Lynn Moore Bright. "Lesbian Candidates and Officeholders" (Chapter 15). In: Thomas, Sue and Clyde Wilcox (editors). Women and Elective Office: Past, Present, and Future. Oxford University Press, January 1, 2014. Start page 253. ISBN 0199328730, 9780199328734. Cited: p. 255.
  14. ^ Bustillo, Miguel (December 12, 2009). "Houston Election May Prove Historic". The Wall Street Journal.  "But voters here have largely dismissed the issue as insignificant, even though she could become the first openly lesbian mayor of a major American city. Ms. Parker, a city controller who has been elected to local office six times with little controversy over her sexual preference, is the leading candidate in Saturday's election runoff."
  15. ^ Du, Susan. "Mayor Annise Parker Looks Forward to Tossing Out Anti-HERO Petition" (Archive). Houston Press. Friday July 4, 2012. Retrieved on July 7, 2014.
  16. ^ Guerra, Joey. "OutSmart Magazine organizes celebration party in Houston" (Archive). Houston Chronicle. June 26, 2013. Retrieved on September 25, 2014.
  17. ^ Ennis, Michael. "What do these Rugged Texas He-Men Have in Common?". Texas Monthly. June 1980. Volume 8, No. 6. ISSN 0148-7736. Start page: 107. Cited: p. 210. Retrieved from Google Books on May 9, 2014.
  18. ^ a b Oaklander, Mandy. "The Mayor of Montrose." Houston Press. 18 May 2011. 1. Retrieved on May 10, 2014.
  19. ^ Oaklander, Mandy. "The Mayor of Montrose." Houston Press. 18 May 2011. 2. Retrieved on May 10, 2014.
  20. ^ Quittner, Jeremy. "Odd Man Out at Enron." The Advocate. Here Publishing, October 15, 2002. No. 874 ISSN 0001-8996. p. 31. Retrieved from Google Books on May 10, 2014.
  21. ^ http://www.bcpahouston.org/gay-mens-chorus-of-houston.html
  22. ^ http://www.chron.com/entertainment/article/Houston-s-Pride-parade-to-move-downtown-5793973.php
  23. ^ http://www.q-fest.org/
  24. ^ http://www.houstonsplash.com/14_aboutus.htm
  25. ^ a b c Shelnutt, Kate. "Gay Christian community in Houston: Diverse, kid-friendly and working for justice" (Archive). Houston Chronicle. January 28, 2011. Retrieved on May 3, 2014.
  26. ^ a b c d Karkabi, Barbara. "Grace Evangelical Lutheran welcomes gay pastor" (Archive). Houston Chronicle. August 29, 2008. Retrieved on May 3, 2014.
  27. ^ Ennis, Michael. "What do these Rugged Texas He-Men Have in Common?". Texas Monthly. June 1980. Volume 8, No. 6. ISSN 0148-7736. Start page: 107. Cited: p. 107. Retrieved from Google Books on May 9, 2014. "It was Easter morning at Houston's Metropolitan Community Church of the Resurrection. [...]"
  28. ^ Feldman, Claudia. "Gay group, Tammy Faye's son invite Joel Osteen to picnic" (Archive). Houston Chronicle. May 8, 2008. Retrieved on May 3, 2014.

External links[edit]