When was the first Houston Pride Celebration?

You can define your terms differently but looking at contemporary gay press in June 20, 1976,
a "Gay Pride Parade" was held, really a small march of only a few hundred people, starting from
the Exile (at 1011 Bell, at Main St) and going around the block, followed by a "Gayfest," at the
Liberty Bank parking lot at Montrose & Westheimer.In 1977 there was no funding for a parade,
but the quickly-planned Anita Bryant protest in June served the purpose of firing up pride in the
community, enough so that Town Meeting I was held in June 1978. As the aftermath of that event
several organizations were formed, including Pride under the aegis of the Gay Political Caucus.
They began planning what they were now calling the "first parade" set for June of 1979.

June 20, 1976

Houston's first Pride "Parade" took place with The Exile parking lot
as a starting point, and basically the 300 to 400 people just went around
the block and back, but it was the beginning of our parade tradition.


In 1976 there was little "coverage" of this event and I found nothing from that time
from directly after the march. Actually, TWT was about the only possible source and
they did not mention the march after it was held. The Nuntius did not cover it at all
and that was the extent of the "gay press" during that span of time. The Montrose
Star did not begin until mid-July 1976.

Commentary: Some have thought that the 4pm "parade" marched around the block
at the Exile and then continued to march to the rally scheduled for 5pm
at the parking lot of the Liberty Bank, at Waugh and Westheimer.
I do not think they "marched" all of that way but instead just got in their
cars and drove to the rally location, which was quite a distance.
It is seen on the above map from the upper red marker to the lower one.
There may not have been much traffic on Main Street on a Sunday afternoon,
but a route to the rally is much more complicated.

Other than the parade/march, much of the activity that weekend centered around
Texas Gay Conference III, held in Houston

There was mention of it in the 1991 Pride Guide in an article by Sheri Cohen Darbonne,
who was one of the coordinators of the 1976 March

See this excellent OutSmart article covering the early history

See the rest of the Outsmart article for more of the history

Below, the 1976 March was coordinated by the Gay Activist Alliance, of U of H,
and one for 1977 was planned, but with little funding. It was overtaken by need for
the huge Rally held downtown on June 16th to protest Anita Bryant