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University of Houston Hosts the Banner Project in Its ‘Straight’ World Debut

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M.D. Anderson Library displays the 34 innovative banners that tell the highlights of Houston’s LGBT history.
Photos and story by Brandon Wolf

2016 National LGBT History Month was celebrated at the University of Houston with a display of the Banner Project in the M.D. Anderson Library foyer on their central campus. The banners have hung in the foyer for the past week, and on National Coming Out Day, a special information table was assembled to answer questions, provide literature, and showcase some of the holdings of the UH LGBT History Collection.

The display was a joint effort worked out by the Banner Project, the M.D. Anderson Library, and the UH LGBTQ Resource Center. Lisa German, Dean of University Libraries, said: “It was such a pleasure to have the banners exhibited here.”

Nearly 17,000 people pass through the library’s foyer every day, so this was the biggest exposure for the Banner Project in its nearly three-year history. It was also the first display in a non-LGBT-specific environment.

The University of Houston consistently ranks high as an LGBT-friendly campus. The Advocate magazine named it “one of the seven brave campuses in the south.” A number of the individuals honored on the banners are UH alumni.

  • The welcome sign in front of the UH Student Center.
  • M.D. Anderson Library, where the Houston LGBT History Banner Project made it’s “straight world” debut on National Coming Out Day 2016.
  • M.D. Anderson Library on the UH campus.
  • The banners decorated the M.D. Anderson Library foyer for more than a week during National LGBT History Month 2016.
  • The view from the second floor.  34 banners tell the highlights of Houston’s LGBT history.
  • The view from the third floor.   The banners cover Houston LGBT historical highlights from the 1930’s through 2010.
  • An information table, sponsored by the library’s Special Collections and the student LGBT Resource Center, was located near the foyer staircase.
  • Vince Lee, curator of the library’s Special Collections LGBT History Collection and Lisa German, Dean of University Libraries.
  • Each banner measures 30 by 65 inches.
  • The Montrose Marching Band, the beginning of parents groups, and the 1979 March on Washington are honored on this set of banners.
  • Hanging over the main check-out desk are banners covering the period 1970 – 1975.
  • Houstonian and political icon Barbara Jordan is honored in this banner hanging over the information table.
  • The 1930’s art scene in Houston included several LGBT individuals.    The opening of Mary’s in 1970 gave the LGBT community a public face and a ‘ground zero’ for organizing and vigil ...
  • Pokey Anderson, Henry McClurg and KPFT are honored in this set of banners.
  • A UH employee takes pictures of the banners in the library foyer.
  • Events from the years of 1979 through 1991 are explained in these banners.
  • The 1980 murder of activist Fred Paez is remembered.
  • Josephine Tittsworth, Jack Valinski and the “Louie Don’t Shoot” campaign in response to a 1985 mayoral candidate’s off-the-cuff remark that the answer to AIDS was to “shoot the que ...
  • Josephine Tittsworth, a UH graduate and member of the student senate, stands behind the banner that honors her groundbreaking work for the transgender community while she attended UH.
  • Activist Bill Scott, a prime mover behind the formation of what is now The Montrose Center, is honored on this banner.
  • The Diana Foundation, America’s oldest continually active gay organization – and the Tumblebugs – are honored on these banners.
  • The daily traffic through this area is over 17,000 people.
  • The 1985 referendum that overturned a gay rights ordinance in 1985, and the 1986 shooting of bar owner and lesbian activist Marion Pantzer.
  • UH alumnus Phyllis Frye is honored this banner, along with Mayor Annise Parker and the historic Lawrence v. Texas case which overturned sodomy laws across the nation in 2003.
  • Students look through literature available at the LGBTQ Resource Center table.
  • The banners blended in beautifully with the everyday life in M.D. Anderson Library.
  • A view from the third floor, looking down at the main check-out desk.
  • Gary Van Ooteghem’s brave move in 1975, coming out to Harris County Commissioners Court, resulted in his firing as the elected Harris County Treasurer.
  • An online link at the information table to the LGBT History Collection portal on the UH website
  • Sara Fernandez and J.D. Doyle, two of the three founders of the innovative Banner Project.
  • Items from the LGBT History Collection in the Special Collections area at M.D. Anderson Library.
  • The Botts Collection of LGBT History, which is currently being migrated to UH’s LGBT History Collection.   It is hoped the migration will be completed by the end of 2017.
  • Dane Ashton, a volunteer from the LGBTQ Resource Center.
  • A special workshop on LGBTQ Awareness, to be held Tuesday, November 2, 2016.
  • The LGBTQ Resource Center in sponsoring a production of “Coming Out Monologues” on October 20, 2016.
  • A decal from the LGBTQ Resource Center.
  • A brochure for students who have questions about living with an LGBT roommate.
  • The Resource Center brochure explain bisexuality.
  • An overview of the UH LGBTQ Resource Center.
  • To date, 856 Cougar allies of the LGBT community – and counting …..
  • The LGBTQ Resource Center is located in this wing of the Student Center.
  • The LGBTQ Resource Center is located down the hallway past the yellow entranceway.
  • The LGBTQ Resource Center listing on the Student Center North directory.
  • The LGBTQ Resource Center and the Women and Gender Resource Center share a beautiful suite where students can hang out, ask questions, take part in activities, or check out books and DVD’s ...
  • The LGBTQ Resource Center suite.   A sign for 2016 LGBTQ History Month is posted at the entrance.
  • The LGBTQ Resource Center is OPEN, and filled with lots of good energy.
  • Asha Wilson, graduate assistant, takes a souvenir picture of 2016 National Coming Out Day for Dane Ashton.
  • Dane shows the wide variety of brochures on LGBTQ issues available.
  • HRC’s Resource Guide to Coming Out.
  • Dane indicates the DVD library, which items can be checked out from.
  • Just a few of the titles available in the DVD library.
  • The entire six-season run of the popular cable show “The L Word” is available.
  • The LGBTQ Resource Center calendar shows lots of activities.
  • More events on the LGBTQ Resource Center calendar.
  • “Sex Geek” is an amusing inside joke with this staff member of the LGBTQ Resource Center.
  • The LGBTQ Resource Center library is color-coded.
  • Cerebral stress balls for final exam time.
  • The LGBTQ Resource Center’s award from the Houston Transgender Unity Committee in 2012.
  • From Melissa Etheridge to Rita Mae Brown – and a whole lot more – books are available for check-out.
  • Information on using condoms and why to use them.    Plus a wide assortment of condoms, available free.
  • Lorraine Schroeder, the friendly director of the LGBTQ Resource Center.
  • A beautiful award presented to Schroeder in honor of her accomplishments.
  • The LGBTQ Resource Center was one of the 2014-2015 beneficiaries of the Diana Foundation.
  • Members of the LGBTQ Resource Center stand behind their banner for a group picture, before a Houston Pride Parade.
  • Asha Wilson, graduate assistant, relaxes in her office for a few moments.   Wilson works with the popular mentor program, which has helped countless troubled LGBTQ students stay in school.
  • A table is set up for a discussion group about to meet in the LGBTQ Resource Center.
  • An LED displays lists LGBTQ discussion groups that are held in the LGBTQ Resource Center.
  • On the front reception desk of the Student Center – an advertisement for Yoga Night at the LGBTQ Resource Center.
  • A huge sign in the visitor parking center, for “Out in Drag”, held for the second year at F Bar, as a celebration of National Coming Out Day.

Brandon Wolf is a frequent contributor to OutSmart magazine.

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Brandon Wolf

Brandon Wolf is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.
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