Houston Matters

Anita Bryant Protests 40 Years Later: Revisiting the ‘Stonewall’ Moment for Houston’s LGBT Community

(Above: Protesters rally in opposition to anti-gay activist Anita Bryant’s Houston appearance in 1977.) While members of the LGBT community in New York rioted in 1969 in opposition to a violent police raid, Houston’s LGBT community had its major uprising 40 years ago this week when activists united to protest a performance by a country musician. […]

Anita Bryant Rally 1977 Houston(Above: Protesters rally in opposition to anti-gay activist Anita Bryant’s Houston appearance in 1977.)

Anita Bryant Protest Ad - Shadow
(Above: An flyer promoting the march and rally in opposition to anti-gay activist Anita Bryant’s appearance in Houston in 1977.)

While members of the LGBT community in New York rioted in 1969 in opposition to a violent police raid, Houston’s LGBT community had its major uprising 40 years ago this week when activists united to protest a performance by a country musician.

Why protest a country musician? Well, singer Anita Bryant was very outspoken in her opposition to gay rights — and even started a campaign called Save Our Children, which fought against an anti-discrimination ordinance in Florida. So, when the Texas State Bar Association invited Bryant to perform at a meeting in Houston, thousands marched through the city in opposition on June 16, 1977. The political momentum from the march eventually became what we know now as the Houston Gay Pride Parade.

On this 40th anniversary of the Anita Bryant Protests, we look back at the events and their significance to the LGBT community in Houston — and the nation –with three guests: Ray Hill, a longtime LGBT activist in Houston; Judge Phyllis Frye, the nation’s first openly transgender judge; and former Houston Mayor Annise Parker.

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