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Larry Bagneris

Pride and Politics

Larry 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" placard.

Larry Bagneris section on Houston LGBT History