‘United with pride.‘: A look back at Houston’s first LGBTQ Pride Parade more than 4 decades ago

Beginning of Houston's Pride Parade of 1979
Beginning of Houston's Pride Parade of 1979 (Larry Butler, courtesy of JD Doyle, HoustonLGBTHistory.org)

HOUSTON – Nearly 50 years ago, the Stonewall Riots of 1969 in New York were considered the beginning of the modern LGBTQ rights movement. The historical riot was the spark that helped ignite Houston’s first gay and lesbian organization in the early 70s. However, the city didn’t celebrate its first parade celebration almost a decade later.

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Since the foundation of the pride march in Houston, the city has supported, educated and promoted the LGBTQ community through marches, awareness and major events such as the Pride Parade.

As the nation wraps up Pride Month in June, we look back at the foundation of Houston’s Pride Parade, one of the country’s largest events celebrating Pride.

The beginning of Houston’s Pride Parade

According to Houston LGBT History, the first official Houston Pride Parade was held in Montrose on July 1, 1979. The parade was followed by a rally at Spotts Park, where 5,000 people enjoyed music, speeches, dancing and fireworks.

However, this was wasn’t the first parade of the LGBTQ community. Three years prior in 1976, a small march took place with a few hundred people.

On June 20, 1976, the University of Houston’s Gay Activist Alliance took its first steps in the gay movement with a Houston Pride Parade. Although there were no floats or bands, about 300 to 400 people met at The Exile parking block and marched down Main Street. The march was followed by a “Gayfest,” at the Liberty Bank located in Montrose.