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Houston Eagle’s new room pays tribute to Houston LGBT history.
Story and photos by Brandon Wolf
Houston LGBT history comes alive in the Phoenix Room at the Houston Eagle. Club owner Mark DeLange says he asked local community historians to help him develop the room, because “our history has been hidden for so long.”
The room features walls dedicated to Houston LGBT publications, bars of the past, and a timeline spanning 1950 to 2015. And once again, the iconic Mary’s mural, created by Scott Swoveland in 1997, is back.
The Diana Foundation, the nation’s oldest continually active gay organization—founded in 1953—hosted a special event on November 30, 2016, to thank DeLange and his collaborators.
Larry Criscione, curator of the Botts Archive of LGBT History, manned a long table with Diana memorabilia and other LGBT historical items. As guests looked over the memories of years gone by, Criscione answered questions.
J.D. Doyle, who played a large role in the development of the walls that feature Houston LGBT publications and bars of the past, was in attendance. DeLange expressed his appreciation to Doyle for his houstonlgbthistory.org website. The website was the source of inspiration for the publication and bar montages.
An impressive timeline of important national and Houston LGBT events from 1950 to 2015 has been installed over the bar. It begins with the founding of the Mattachine Society in 1950 and follows through to the marriage-equality Supreme Court decision of 2015. It includes such events as the 1980 repeal of the cross-dressing ordinance, the 1985 antigay referendum, the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision that struck down sodomy laws across the nation, and the 2009 election of Annise Parker as mayor.
Williams presented DeLange with a special award of appreciation for his creation of the Phoenix Room [after the author of this story presented a short look back at the Dianas of yesteryear].
An in-depth article about the Phoenix Room will be published in the February 2017 issue of OutSmart.