Queer Nation-Houston
Clippings & Info

Plus some ACT-UP Coverage

Back to start of Houston History Section

This page will share various clippings, photos, etc that I have found related to the Queer Nation Houston
chapter and its history, and are in chronological order. They come from various Houston LGBT publications, including
This Week in Texas, the New Voice, Houston Voice, and others. They begin after the short summary.

And obviously, this is just the beginning of this effort to accumulate clippings, photos, etc on Houston's
Queer Nation. I very much welcome folks to send me scans of more, so
please contact me. This section
also includes related articles on ACT-UP, OUTrage, etc.

Yes, the pages are wide, as the clippings were wide. For some I have included a PDF link.

1991 (This Page, January to July)

1991 (July-August)
1991 (Sept to Dec)

 1992      1993-1996     1988-90


The first Queer Nation chapter - an offshoot of ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power -
was founded in New York in early 1990 to specifically combat homophobia.
Queer Nation-Houston (QN) was launched late that year by local activists,
including former Houston Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus President David Fowler
and attorney John Paul Barnich. QN was grassroots, democratic, and based on direct action.

LGBT visibility was minimal in the mass media and existing representations were mostly
negative. Among QN's first actions in early 1991 were a banner hanging ("We're Queer!")
over the Southwest Freeway bridges; a demonstration against bigoted comedian Andrew Dice Clay's
performance at the Summit; and a contingent in that year's pride parade.

Paul Broussard was beaten to death on July 4. QN's Take Back the Streets march the following week
brought out 2,000 people outraged at this vicious, antigay murder. Yielding to pressure from
LGBT communities, Houston police sent undercover officers into Montrose in "Operation Vice-Versa".
Officers were attacked in multiple incidents, because they were perceived as gay; more than
fifteen people were arrested over a mere two weeks. This revealed, for (the many) skeptics,
the homophobic violence prevalent at that time.

QN membership swelled into the hundreds.

AIDS actions included distribution of condoms and safer-sex information. QN also organized
protests against M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, which had removed operating room nurse
Brian Bradley from his position because he was HIV-positive, and City Councilman
John Goodner, who had called for quarantining people with HIV.

With ACT UP chapters from around the country, QN organized major demonstrations
against the 1992 Republican National Convention, held at the Houston Astrodome -
and at which Patrick Buchanan's notorious, keynote "culture war" speech initiated
a fifteen-year wave of increasingly antigay politics.

During the Convention, anti-abortion extremists from Operation Rescue descended on Houston,
as part of their long-running campaign to physically blockade women's health clinics. QN
supported ongoing efforts to defend local clinics and the right to abortion.

Amidst increasing disarray in queer and AIDS movements nationally,
Queer Nation Houston folded in 1993.
(Paul Mullan)

You can find over 20 video clips of
news reports on YouTube, Here
And, Also see the Queer Nation Facebook Group

Panel discussion on QN, 25 years later. From 7/26/14, 55 min.
with David Embry (on skype), David Fowler, Susan Palmer,
Ray Hill, and Paul Mullen; also Andrew Edmonson. LINK



Above see QN-H at the Banner Project

Above is a sheet of crack-and-peel stickers for Queer Nation-Houston.
Stickers like these were widely distributed to activists and were a
do-it-yourself, on-the-street mechanism for creating visibility for LGBT
people. They frequently ended up on peoples' clothing during
demonstrations; at drive-through windows; on utility poles, etc.

Masters or templates for at least some stickers were received from
a Queer Helper packet ("Dykes, Faggots, and Bisexuals in a Zesty
Sauce"), originally put together by the Queer Nation-San Francisco
chapter and distributed to new QN groups in different cities around
the country, including Houston. The packet name was a riff on
Hamburger Helper.

In practice, a new chapter could physical cut-and-paste (literally,
using scissors and glue) their city's name, with an identical font and
sizing, over the appropriate areas on the hardcopy master sheet.
If a designer was available and had the latest computer applications, a new master could be created from scratch. Photocopies of the sheet were
then made in black ink on 8x11 label paper, frequently in blinding-neon
colors. (PM)



Currently, this is the first known reference, in the media, to Queer Nation-Houston and appeared in the Friday, January 4, 1991
edition of the Montrose Voice, a major LGBT community newsweekly based in the city. According to this article, QN-Houston
was formed by David Fowler in conjunction with another local activist, Scott Simpson. As reported by Fowler, in other sources,
a third local activist was involved as well in that process, attorney John Paul Barnich.

Per the Harris County online Assumed Names Database, the DBAs (doing-business-as) for "Queer Nation-Houston"
and another potential name ("Queer Nation-Montrose") were created by Fowler on Thursday, January 3, 1991.

The first QN chapter - an offshoot of ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power - was founded in New York City
in early 1990 to specifically combat homophobia. However, QN did not have a "national headquarters", to which this article
refers, in any conventional sense, as each city was autonomous. In practice, established QN groups could assist
new groups elsewhere, as can be seen in San Francisco's Queer Helper packet (see the discussion above).
Occasionaly, though not frequently, established QN groups would call for actions around the country -
and some of those are, again, mentioned in this article. For the most part, though, local chapters were
independent and determined their own own specific agendas.

This article notes "Houston's tendency towards conservatism in regard to gay/lesbian direct action",
and Fowler says he "is not so sure about the kiss-ins at the shopping malls, things like that". QN in Houston
quickly overcame any inhibitions based on the city's lousy history around LGBT rights and, among its many
activities, took up kiss-ins and actions at the malls. For example, see the Houston Chronicle articles, below:
from March 11, 1991, "A kiss is just a kiss"; and from March 18, 1991, "Radical Queer Nation stands up for gay rights". (PM)

Above, first mention of QN-H in Houston Chronicle

David Embry was a young Houston activist who was very active in Queer Nation-Houston. He did a scrapbook on the press the group received,
and he very graciously scanned the entire book for me. Those pages are spread through the clippings section. Below, David then, and now.


This statement of principles for Queer Nation-Houston includes some standard language that appeared
in statements for other QN chapters, elsewhere, founded prior to Houston's:
http://qrd.org/qrd/orgs/QN/queer.nation-policy. There are still notable differences between this Houston statement and those earlier versions.

Further, "loose federation of autonomous groups" may not exactly describe what the Houston chapter actually was in practice. (PM)

Assorted notes on the article above:

- Andrew Dice Clay was a widely popular, and very homophobic, comedian, who had appeared in many films and television shows.

- Alan Klein, one of the founders of the original QN chapter in New York City, is quoted:

We will react when violence is directed against us. We will react to bigotry and to any type of hatred …. [Q]ueers bash back.

The frequency of homophobic hate crimes had been significantly increasing throughout the 1980s, particularly once biased,
mass-media coverage of the AIDS crisis became prominent - such as the 1985 revelation that actor Rock Hudson had
died from the disease. Per the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, there was a 42% increase in such crimes from 1986-1987 (1);
a 4-9% increase from 1987-1988 (2); a slight dip from 1988-1989 (3); and then another, 42% increase from 1989-1990 (4).
A spate of antigay murders in NYC - of James Zappalorti and others - was one factor that sparked the demand for a new,
queer-specific politics, and thus sparked the creation of QN.

- ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) in NYC addressed the particularity of AIDS and HIV - and how exactly that should
relate concretely to addressing homophobia and heterosexism could be a contentious debate. Nevertheless, in practice many
activists in QN NYC were also involved in the ACT UP chapter there. For example, the original, anonymous
"Queers Read This" / "I Hate Straights" statement distributed to thousands at the 1990 pride parade in Manhattan -
and widely considered to be the founding Queer Nation "manifesto" - was written by folks in ACT UP (5).

- QN in Houston did not use consensus-based decision-making processes in the general meetings or in the
organization as a whole. Instead, a majority-rule, democratic decision-making process was used. (PM)


(1) Los Angeles Times. "Violence against homosexuals at record high, study says." Houston Chronicle. Houston Chronicle, 8 June, 1988. Web. 9 Jan. 2014.
(2) Rehg, Rob. "Survey cites increase in anti-gay violence." Houston Chronicle. Houston Chronicle, 8 June, 1989. Web. 9 Jan. 2014.
(3) Clayton, William E., Jr. "Texas ranks 2nd in 'gay-bashing' incidents in '89, group says." Houston Chronicle. Houston Chronicle, 8 June, 1990. Web. 9 Jan. 2014.
(4) Hull, S. Kelly. "Violence against gays rises sharply." Houston Chronicle. Houston Chronicle, 7 Mar., 1991. Web. 9 Jan. 2014.
(5) http://www.actuporalhistory.org/interviews/images/gagliostro.pdf

Paul Broussard coverage

The three posters and the pink flyer below are courtesy of the Botts Collection
These were street posters, 11" x 17"

From Pride 1991, These three QN photos courtesy of Angy Lou

On to July 1991