By JD Doyle
On September 16, Houston’s LGBTQ community lost one of its pioneers.
Henry McClurg, the self-proclaimed “mayor of Montrose” who published local gay newspapers for more than 40 years, died at 70.
“Henry would have been a newspaper guy no matter what place he would have found himself,” said longtime local gay activist Ray Hill. “It was in his DNA. Houston’s GLBT community was just lucky he was here at a time when tangible reading material was needed to feed the progress of our cause.”
Although there have been many Houston LGBTQ publications over the years, it was McClurg who contributed the most to bringing gay and lesbian news to the city.
“I figured my publications had a purpose, to do good, to educate people and to educate our community, let them know what is going on and be proud—not be ashamed that you’re gay,” McClurg said in a 2012 interview.
Originally from Mississippi, McClurg spent time in the military before going to work in radio, moving to New Orleans and then Houston. While working for a Houston radio station, he saw the opportunity and need for a gay publication. He wanted to an alternative to the only other gay publication at the time, The Nuntius, which had a different focus.
McClurg’s publication was called Contact, and it began in March 1974. Its circulation grew in the Gulf States region, with its fare of news stories, bar guides and ads. Contact ran for 17 issues, until October 1975, when McClurg sold it to The Advocate.
As part of the arrangement, McClurg went to work for The Advocate for a year, but he was hungry to start another paper. The Montrose Star was Houston’s first “gay newspaper” with a focus on news. It lasted from late 1976 until the end of 1980. According to McClurg, the newspaper’s name helped lead to Montrose becoming the name of the city’s gayborhood.
Next, McClurg started what would become a series of Voice newspapers and a long-running publishing empire. The Montrose Voice began in October 1980. In early 1991, it became The New Voice, and at the end of 1993, it became The Houston Voice.
Later that year, McClurg sold the Voice to its then-editor. It later became part of Window Media, which closed in 2009.
McClurg also had several other short-running publications, including The Star in 1977 and 1978, Out in Texas in 1983, the Dallas Gay News from 1982 to 1984, the Montrose News in 2011, and the Houston Progressive Voice. In addition, McClurg ran the Montrose Guest House for about 15 years, beginning in 1993.
McClurg suffered from liver problems for several years, but his mind was always full of new publishing ideas and plans for his website. He is survived by his sister Ann Williams, and her husband Gary.
“He knew everyone and everyone knew him,” Gary Williams said. “When we would go visit him, it was like Norm walking into Cheers. Everyone welcomed Henry.”
For more on McClurg’s publications, visit http://www.houstonlgbthistory.org/voice.html.