One of our community's early leaders,
both in organizing the first
Pride Parades and as a Caucus President (1982)
Chronicle photo of Larry Bagneris, from April 16, 1980
and at right, his Banner
Bagneris was one of our early community heroes, and for many reasons.
In 1979 he originated Houston's
first official Pride Parade, and it was a success. Coming from New
Orleans, he believed parades should be events
of celebration, rather than protests. Bagneris moved from New Orleans
in 1972 with a degree in Political Science
from Xavier University, so he already had a taste for politics, one
that was refined with coalition building.
He gravitated to the Gay Political Caucus (GPC) in 1977 and was one
of the speakers at the now famous
Town Meeting I, on June 25, 1978, a landmark community meeting sparked
by the protests against Anita Bryant
a year earlier. That event led to the forming of several community
organizations, and Bagneris was also involved
with the Gay Chicano Caucus, whose name evolved to Gay and Lesbian
Hispanic Unidos (GLHU).
In the GPC he gradually rose through the Caucus ranks, becoming vice
president in 1979. In those early years
there was not yet a Pride organization, as it was under the Caucus
umbrella, and he became in charge of the Parade.
He figures there were 10,000 in attendance and the Parade ended with
a rally in Spotts Park, fireworks and music
timed to finish with the anthem "We Are Family." Also in
1979 he had broader influence, as he was on the Board of
Directors of the National Gay Task Force (NGTF).
Politically the community was already deeply involved with the planning
of the March on Washington for Lesbian
and Gay Rights, the weekend of October 14, 1979. This was a milestone
in our history. In 1980 he was also an openly
gay delegate to the Democratic Party's National Convention.
He continued to increase his political activities in the Caucus and
became president in 1982. He was the first elected
Black president of the Caucus. The organization was increasing its
influence in the early eighties, and he continued
to run the Pride Parade until 1986. The main business of the Caucus
was of course screening local candidates for
office and making endorsements. Also, among his honors, in 1984 he
was selected as Grand Marshal of the first
Texas Gay Rodeo.
Bagneris returned to New Orleans around 1986, still involved in politics
and fighting anti-LGBT legislation over the
years. In 2021 he had reason to return to Houston though, as he was
chosen as an Honorary Grand Marshal for that
year's Pride. Alas, the pandemic delayed the actual celebration until
2022 when he got to ride in his jeep down the street,
this time in downtown Houston, with his "Vote Democrat"
reality, a book should be written about Larry, and this site is only
aiming to chronicle the highlights of his Houston accomplishments
before he moved back to New Orleans in 1987.
I would recommend checking Wikipedia
for his work in Louisiana