Activities & Organizations Campus From the Archives News

A look into queer history at UH

Members of GLOBAL gathered for National Coming Out Day in 1995. | The Cougar archives

The history of LGBTQ activism at UH is marked by a series of pioneering efforts, societal challenges and significant milestones that reflect broader changes in the fight for LGBTQ rights across the U.S.

Early 1970s

In 1968, the UH Gay Liberation Front was established, one of the earliest organized efforts for LGBTQ rights on campus. 

By 1971, the group had rebranded to Gay Liberation and hosted The Gay Dance, one of the first public social events for the LGBTQ community at UH, increasing visibility and solidarity among students.

Despite their efforts, the group disbanded in 1973 due to societal pressures and internal challenges. 

However, LGBTQ activism at UH saw a resurgence in 1975 with the creation of the Gay Activist Alliance, the first officially recognized gay student group in Texas. This marked a significant milestone in LGBTQ activism within the state.

Late 1970s

In February 1976, controversy erupted when the Doonesbury comic strip featured a gay character. The Houston Post refused to publish the series, prompting activist Fred Páez and the GAA to distribute it through the Cougar.

The Doonesbury cartoon published in 1976 in the Cougar. | The Cougar archives

The same year, UH offered its first non-credit course focused on LGBTQ topics, “Homosexual Experience,” and hosted the Texas Gay Conference, establishing the university as a hub for LGBTQ activism and education.

In 1977, UH expanded its non-credit gay studies with courses such as “Homosexual Reality for Police and Other Bureaucrats” and “Gay History.”

The GAA faced legal challenges due to the General Appropriation Act, which aimed to eliminate illegal organizations, including gay groups. The GAA successfully argued their legality and continued their activities.

GAA members dancing at the Cougar Den in 1977. | The Cougar archives

That year, a planned parade by GAA was reallocated to support the protest against Anita Bryant, a known anti-gay rights activist. 

This led to the formation of Gay Resource Services, which replaced the GAA as the leading LGBTQ organization on campus due to the GAA’s male-dominated nature.

In 1978, UH celebrated its first Gay Pride Week, further cementing its role in LGBTQ activism. 

GRS hosted a meeting for the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1979, linking local efforts with national movements.


The 1980s saw the continuation of non-credit LGBTQ courses, such as “Improving Love Relationships for Gays” and “General Gay Studies.” 

UH once again hosted the Texas Gay Conference in 1981. 

However, GRS disbanded in 1984, possibly due to changing dynamics within the LGBTQ movement or external pressures.

The Gay and Lesbian Students Association was established in 1985, marking a resurgence of organized LGBTQ activism on campus. 

1990s and 2000s

In 1994, GLSA was renamed to Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual Alliance, reflecting broader inclusion of identities.

In 2009, the Women’s Studies Program introduced the LGBT Studies minor, recognizing the scholarly importance of LGBT people and their contributions to politics and theory. 

This minor offers students an interdisciplinary framework to understand and critically examine sexuality, gender and sexual identity. 

The following year, the program was renamed the Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program.


June 2010 saw the creation of the GLBT Resource Center with Lorraine Schroder as director. 

In 2011, the LGBTQ Resource Center ended its inaugural year by participating in Houston’s largest gay pride celebration for the first time. Nearly 40 faculty, staff and students gathered to take part in the Houston Pride Parade.

In 2014, UH received recognition from The Advocate as one of seven “brave campuses” and a leader in “grassroots organization and activism” concerning its LGBTQ community.

In 2015, the center officially changed its name to the LGBTQ Resource Center. The center provided a safe space for LGBTQ staff, students and allies to learn, grow and discuss important issues affecting the LGBTQ community.

In 2016, significant historical materials related to UH’s LGBTQ activism were archived in the MD Anderson Library, preserving the history and achievements of the community. 

Former Houston Mayor Anise Parker and her partner Kathy Hubbard contributed to the development of these archives in 2017, enhancing the preservation and accessibility of this history.

In 2019, the CLASS Institute for Research on Women, Gender & Sexuality was founded and became the first university-based think tank on gender and sexuality in the region. 


Recent legislative changes have posed new challenges. As of Aug. 31, 2023, the LGBTQ Resource Center and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion ceased operations due to Senate Bill 17. 

The bill, signed during the recent legislative session, prevents universities from continuing with diversity, equity and inclusion offices and bans required diversity training.

Although the bill went into effect on Jan. 1, UH was the first school in the state to close its LGBTQ Resource Center, marking a significant setback for the community.

UH’s journey in LGBTQ activism highlights the enduring struggle, resilience and progress of the community, illustrating its significant role in the broader LGBTQ rights movement in Texas and the nation.

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