FeaturesG&G 2020

Gayest & Greatest 2020: Community

JD Doyle makes local LGBTQ history accessible through his online archives.

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The JD Doyle Archives is this year’s Best National LGBTQ Website (photo by Alex Rosa)

Now, more than ever, it’s imperative that queer folks know their history and learn from the pioneers who paved the way to where we are today. A one-stop shop for LGBTQ Houston and Texas history can be found in the JD Doyle Archives. This impressive catalog of local queer history even includes thousands of obituaries and 580 hours of archived radio program content. It’s clear why Doyle’s massive digital platform is the recipient of this year’s  Best National LGBTQ Website award.

In January 2000, Doyle was invited to do a radio segment on the history of queer music. What followed was a 15-year gig as the host of Queer Music Heritage, a unique LGBTQ music history program. Covering a spectrum of music from gay country to queer hip hop, Doyle decided to digitize his work for future generations of listeners to enjoy. “I began putting the show online, because the history was important enough to be archived and because no one else was doing this kind of show. These independent artists were the pioneers, and you can’t find them anywhere,” he explains.

After putting Queer Music Heritage online, Doyle realized he had much more to offer regarding LGBTQ history. “In about 2013, I realized I had things in my personal archives like Pride photos from the 1980s, and I started putting that stuff on my website so people could see it,” the out historian explains. “I kept adding more scans of gay publications, which are probably my first love when preserving history.”

In 2014, his site dedicated to LGBTQ Texas and Houston history was created. “You can’t really find that kind of information in history books.”

The final tier of the archives is the Texas Obituary Project, a catalog that memorializes LGBTQ Houstonians and Texans. “I like to include the person’s age, and if they left a partner behind,” he explains. The site is designed to help the user research based on category. “I have tags on every page: AIDS deaths, Black, Latino, female, deaths by violence. You can search all of these specific things. I hope it’s useful for researchers who are studying LGBT deaths over the years.”

Doyle explains that while the obituary database is vast, it will never capture every LGBTQ death. “Not everyone had obituaries, and there are probably twice as many deaths due to AIDS than the tag on my website reflects.”

Doyle explains that he doesn’t monitor website visits or clicks, even now that his entire website collection has been preserved by the U.S. Library of Congress. He understands his mission to be much greater than attracting website traffic. When asked what this history resource would have meant to a younger version of himself, he explains, “I might’ve come out a lot sooner. When I was younger and coming out, there was no Internet or real visibility of the gay people we could have looked up to as mentors. The people coming out now are so lucky. They don’t know how blessed they are. In the ’70s, it was seen as a sickness and illegal. You had to watch your back.”

As for the future of his archives, Doyle explains he has no intention of slowing down, and even has plans for expansion. “I have found that the history website has gotten a little wider than just Houston. I have whole sections with digitized stuff from Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio, just because I can and because it needs to be available. I want the website to continue to expand to be statewide.”

Find historian JD Doyle’s archives online at houstonlgbthistory.org.

Best Political Advocacy Group

Houston GLBT Political Caucus
Finalists: Jolt Action, Transgender Education Network, Victory Fund

Favorite LGBTQ Philanthropic Organization

The Montrose Center
Finalists: Bunnies on the Bayou, ERSICSS, Legacy Community Health, Out for Education

Favorite LGBTQ Benefit Event of the Year

Bunnies on the Bayou
Finalists: Houston Leather Pride, Mint Julep, The Montrose Center Gala, World AIDS Day Luncheon

Favorite LGBTQ Social Organization

Diana Foundation
Finalists: ERSICSS, Executive & Professional Association Houston (EPAH), Krewe of Olympus, Lambda NextGen

Favorite Local LGBTQ Community Organization

Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce (tie), Pride Houston (tie)
Finalists: ERSICSS, Montrose Center, PWA Holiday Charities, Space City Sisters

Best LOCAL Corporate LGBTQ Diversity Group

Chevron
Finalists: Amegy Bank, Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, Shell

Favorite LGBTQ Sports Club

Montrose Softball League Association
Finalists: Gay Kickball, Houston Hurricanes, Houston Tennis Club, Lone Star Volleyball

Favorite HIV/AIDS Support Organization

AIDS Foundation Houston
Finalists: Avenue 360 Health & Wellness, Legacy Community Health, The Montrose Center, PWA Holiday Charities, St. Hope Foundation

Favorite National LGBTQ Organization

The Trevor Project
Finalists: Black Trans Advocacy Coalition, National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Victory Fund

Favorite Local College or University

University of Houston
Finalists: Houston Community College, Rice University, Texas Southern University

Favorite Place to Take Your Out-of-Town Visitors

Houston Eagle
Finalists: Discovery Green, Houston Galleria, Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, The Menil Collection, NASA

Favorite Place to Worship

Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church
Finalists: Bering Memorial UMC, Congregation Or Ami, Kindred, St. Paul’s UMC, Unity of Houston

Favorite Professional Sports Team

Houston Astros
Finalists: Houston Dash, Houston Dynamo, Houston Rockets, Houston SaberCats, Houston Texans

Local Business Most Supportive of the LGBTQ Community

Silver Eagle Distributors
Finalists: Amegy Bank, BUDDY’S, Houston Eagle, Pearl Bar, Tony’s Corner Pocket 

National Business Most Supportive of the LGBTQ Community

Target
Finalists: Anheuser-Busch, Comcast, MAC Cosmetics, Zions Bancorporation 

Best Local LGBTQ Website

outsmartmagazine.com
Finalists: Houstonlgbthistory.org, JD Doyle Archives, LegacyCommunityHealth.org

Best National LGBTQ Website

JD Doyle Archives
Finalists: HuffPost, TransGriot, Towleroad

This article appears in the October 2020 edition of OutSmart magazine.

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Zachary McKenzie

Zachary McKenzie is a marketing professional and freelance writer in Houston, TX. He received his bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin in 2014 and has lived in Houston since. Zachary is a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters and enjoys spending his free time with friends, exploring the richness and diversity of Houston.

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