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Obit-Rita Wanstrom

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DIED. Rita Wanstrom, a pioneer in the Houston fight for LGBT equality, died November 17 from breast cancer and other health issues in Austin, in the company of her son and daughter-in-law. She was 85. Wanstrom, known as “Papa Bear” to her many friends, owned and operated nightclubs for lesbians, including the 1960s-era The Roaring Sixties, located on South Shepherd. A leading activist at a time when gay women were arbitrarily arrested for cross-dressing if they wore fly-front pants, Wanstrom’s efforts were instrumental in having that ordinance repealed. Among her many honors, she served as a grand marshal in Houston’s 1981 Pride Parade.

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