Pride Houston was deeply saddened by the passing of Ray Hill, a Houston icon who spearheaded much of the early activism on LGBTQIA+ rights nationwide. Known around the nation for his many accomplishments, including being a lead organizer for the 1979 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, we in Houston were privileged to know him for his work on the Anita Bryant protest in 1977 and the Town Hall Meetings he helped host, which led to the creation of many Houston based LGBTQIA+ organizations as well as the Houston Pride Parade.
“…we didn’t have any institutions to sustain the community. All we had were bars, and those bars were different from the taverns of American independence. They were very, very different bars — dark, and made for cruising, not discourse,” said Ray Hill. “We needed institutions desperately, and in 1978 we called Town Meeting 1.’’
Hill was pivotal in putting Houston on the map as the welcoming and inclusive city that it is today. Pride Houston will continue to honor his memory by always championing LGBTQIA+ rights both locally and nationally.
In memory of Ray Hill, Pride Houston will institute an annual Town Hall with the goals of continuing the discourse on LGBTQIA+ issues as well as providing a safe space for all to gather and contribute to Houston’s welcoming and inclusive identity. More details to follow.