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‘It gave us a feeling of power’: Some Montrose residents revive LGBTQ watch group, Q Patrol as crimes against community increase

The original Q Patrol was active in the 90s and early 2000s, but disbanded after the LGBTQ community gained more rights. But now, with the increase in hate crimes and state laws that take away LGBTQ rights, some Montrose residents are bringing the patrol group back.


A METRO bus and a pedestrian at the rainbow crosswalk in Montrose.


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If someone were to walk into the Montrose area and pick one thing that stood out to them, they would probably comment on just how many rainbows there are.

Montrose has long been known as Houston's historically LGBTQ-friendly neighborhood, or "gayborhood". The area seems to overflow with a welcoming, colorful atmosphere, and rainbow flags adorn everything from shop windows to crosswalks.

But Montrose wasn't always a safe space. In the 1990s, a series of "gay bashing" hate crimes shook the community. LGBTQ people had eggs thrown at them, were called slurs, and some, like Paul Broussard and Philip Smith, were attacked and killed.

In the face of prejudice, some community members decided to fight back. Since many in the community did not feel supported by the police, they chose to patrol the streets themselves. Dressed in matching shirts, the "Q Patrol" kept careful watch over Montrose's bars and clubs.

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"We had the whistles, and we had shirts and notepads and walkie-talkies," said Sal Meave, cofounder of Act Out HTX. "It gave us a feeling of power. We're in control now, and we're gonna watch these streets."

Sal, who has lived in Montrose since 1994, fondly recalled how the group made the area feel safer. As LGBTQ rights became more widely adopted, the original group slowly declined in membership until they ceased activities in the early 2000s.

While the original group disbanded due to Montrose becoming safer for LGBTQ people, Sal and other activists said that recent events made them feel like it was time for Q patrol to return.

From left: Sal Meave, Marc Meave and Ethan Ganz are part of the newly revised Q Patrol in Montrose.

Marc Meave, Sal's husband, said that he's seen more hate directed at the LGBTQ community in recent years. He specifically pointed to a recent string of anti-LGBTQ laws, shootings at gay clubs, and protests outside of drag shows.

"It's all of these issues coming up that everyone feels there is no longer a safe space for them," said Marc. "And I feel like that's where this new reprise of Q Patrol comes in."

MORE: Sal and Marc Meave discuss reviving Q Patrol on Houston Matters


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After researching the original organization, Marc and Sal partnered with various LGBTQ activists to bring Q Patrol back. The revived organization would be based on the original mission but would adapt to new technology and needs.

The new group has adopted its own version of the Q Patrol's uniform: bright pink shirts with the organization's logo on the front. One of the group's major goals is to serve as a visible deterrent but to also engage with the community around them.

"Community means having chargers, it's having bottled water, it's being available for your family," said Sal.

Like the original group, the new Q Patrol would be non-violent in nature. While they would patrol the streets, volunteers would be encouraged to report suspicious activity rather than engage. However, they would be prepared to defend their community if it came to it.

"When we started planning, we realized that our volunteers would need some basic training," said Marc. "We figured things like CPR, de-escalation training, and self-defense training would be amazing."

One of the group's partners, Third Ward Jiu-Jitsu, volunteered to train members in de-escalation techniques. The dojo partnered with Q Patrol as part of their mission to create a safe space for the LGBTQ community to learn martial arts.

Marc Meave goes through training with members of the new Q Patrol. The group takes Jiu Jitsu training at Third Ward Jiu Jitsu.

While these techniques are inherently defensive, the group says they can do a lot to help members feel empowered. Ethan Michelle Ganz, one of the group's founders and a longtime resident of Montrose, reflected on why he thought bringing the group back was important.

"When you take action into your own hands, you feel like you've done something that matters," said Ganz. "That takes away the feeling of helplessness, it takes away that fear."

The group said they aim to continue recruiting and training volunteers in the coming weeks before starting patrols. But if you happen to find yourself in Montrose, you might just end up running into a pink-clad guardian smiling and asking if you need a ride home.