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Houston Voice, No. 1183, June 27, 2003
File 004
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Houston Voice, No. 1183, June 27, 2003 - File 004. 2003-06-27. University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. December 16, 2017. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/721/show/675.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(2003-06-27). Houston Voice, No. 1183, June 27, 2003 - File 004. Montrose Voice. University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/721/show/675

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Voice, No. 1183, June 27, 2003 - File 004, 2003-06-27, Montrose Voice, University of Houston Libraries, accessed December 16, 2017, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/721/show/675.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Voice, No. 1183, June 27, 2003
Contributor
  • Weaver, Penny
  • Crain, Chris
Publisher Window Media
Date June 27, 2003
Language English
Subject
  • LGBTQ community
  • LGBTQ people
  • Gay liberation movement
Place
  • Houston, Texas
Genre
  • newspapers
Type
  • Text
Identifier OCLC: 31485329
Rights In Copyright: This item is protected by copyright. Copyright to this resource is held by the creator or current rights holder, and the resource is provided here for educational purposes. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without permission of the copyright owner. Users assume full responsibility for any infringement of copyright or related rights.
Note This item was digitized from materials loaned by the Gulf Coast Archive and Museum (GCAM).
Item Description
Title File 004
Transcript HOUSTON VOICE www.houston voice.com JUNE 27, 2003 3 Gays claim Montrose as their own The 1960s saw the evolution of this traditionally diverse, gay neighborhood Editor's note: In honor of Pride Week and 25 years of pride and gay history in Houston, this story is the second in a three- part series taking a look at the changes in the Montrose neighborhood, traditionally known as the heart of gay Houston. By JOHNNY HOOKS In 1948, Houston was awarded the label "Fastest Growing City in the Nation," according to an article in the Houston Business Journal. The Saturday Evening Post described the city as in "a dazzling phase, like Chicago in the 1850s." The reason for such tremendous growth? Petroleum. The fossil fuel would propel Houston from a frontier town to the 14th largest city in the US by 1950. Betty Chapman in the Houston Business Journal wrote: "Fourteen refineries in the Houston area produced more than half the nation's oil. More wealth left the ground within a 200-mile radius of Houston than in any other location in the world." Life magazine wrote then what many residents feel now: "I think I'll like Houston if they ever get it finished." The 1950s and '60s saw the city through its first "boom years." To learn more about the queer emergence in Montrose, as well as in Houston itself, I went to gay activist Ray Hill. "There was always a strong gay influence in [Houston] development, mortgage banking... even, I suspect as far back as turning an old dairy farm into the first Houston subdivision," Hill said. "Gay folk were laying out streets and financing homes. "Jesse Jones had no children of his own, his fair-haired boy Bob Smith had no children, left no heirs... of course Ms. Ima (Hogg) never married and I don't know what they paid her secretary after she died, but she's living comfortably for not writing a book," Hill said. "There have always been rumors about those relationships." Why is it no surprise that this city had such colorful (ahem) characters from its very start? But when and, curiously, WHY did the queers arrive in the neighborhood? Again Hill remembers. "I can tell you exactly, almost to the date. I certainly know who was at the table when the gay community discovered Montrose as aeri- able soil... and that goes back to the Almeda Street era. "We had downtown [gay] bars, and the first bars to venture out of the downtown area were down Almeda road from Holman to Southmore, and it was cruising strip," Hill said. "You know, Houston's always been a cruising town." Houston gay activist Ray Hill recalls when gays made Montrose the heart of their community in the Bayou City. (Photo by Kimberly Thompson). At the time, all bars in Houston closed at midnight, but the men and women still had some tap in their shoes. The only place open was a coffeehouse on Main Street called Cokens. Apparently the owner, Bernard Coken, was rumored to be a "family member." though very closeted if so. Depending on his mood, Coken would either reluctantly welcome the late-night "perverts" or force them to hit the road. In the early 1960s, the "grand dames' of that time decided they'd had enough. "Paul Stewart, Bobby Gant, Joey Bosch, Rita Wajjstrum and that was basically the GLBT group... the li-sblanbars were sotnewrrera? else Inn they -0U %Sme all the way across town to join us for Coken's," Hill said. "We got together there, after recently being let back in. and said, 'This is bullshit.' You can't plan your evening, you never know if Bernard is going to be on a terror, or if Helen the waitress is gonna cough on your food; it's an awful place and we're not welcome. "So there was a place, Ari Wren's, where Katz's Deli is now... that was only open for lunch," Hill continued. Hill and his friends convinced Wren to open his restaurant 24 hours a day and from the first night, a traffic jam formed due to all the cars leaving Almeda, heading down Montrose to Art Wren's. At the time. Montrose dead-ended at Westheimer and by the late '60s some quick-thinking queens decided to open a few bars "out Westheimer" past Montrose Boulevard. The Encore was the first Montrose "gay bar" — it was actually a private club where men could dance with men and enjoy cocktails. The second was Mary's; May Britz was the third; and finally a bar called Numbers, located on 1004 California. The Bayou Landing was reported to be the largest gay dance hall between the East and West coasts! The sexual revolution of the times was embraced by the writers, musicians, gays and exiles that flocked to Montrose at the time, thanks to Ray Hill and his fellow queer pioneers. The early 1970s saw the lower Westheimer/Montrose area referred to as "Houston's Left Bank," with cafes, boutiques, antique stores and chic European-influenced restaurants such as Ari Grenouille's. Bacchanal, Michaelangelo's and Boccacio 2000. Boccacio 2000 was described by Texas Monthly as "a disco-restaurant furnished in Modern Kubrick that's become a jet-set pit stop for movie stars lost in Houston." The late 1970s were a testament to urban decline, and Houston's "Left Bank" was now being compared to Boston's "Combat Zone." "First one sex shop opened, then another... once you go cheap, you start attracting a bad element... landlords get greedy and only the sex shop owners are willing to pay; the restaurants couldn't survive," recalls Michaelanelo owner Willie Rometsch in a Houston Post article. The early 1980s saw Montrose dissolve into its most lawless era. Cars packed with drunken (mainly straight) youth cruised bumper to bumper from South Shepherd to Elgin and back again on weekend nights. Prostitutes of every variety lined either side of lower Westheimer; side streets saw sex in alleyways, rampant drug deals and more than the occasional assault. Numbers 2. Godfathers Pizza (soon to be La Strada), the infamous Chicken Coop, the Midnight Sun, Twins (sole lesbian bar on the strip), Tila's Restaurant (in the old Ari Wren's locale) with its neon clock, Ruggles, the Tower Theater and the Booby Rock strip club were all fixtures rjn the famously seedy strip. How did the former jewel inTHouston's crown overcome its eyesore status and lawless reputation to become, yet again, the zip code to inhabit? Next week: Montrose faces the devastating effects of AIDS and gentrifying redevelopment, plus a determined community looks in ihe future inside ISSUE 1183 LOCAL NEWS 3 NATIONAL NEWS 6 FORUM .12 OUT ON THE BAYOU 17 COMMUNITY CALENDAR 25 APPOINTMENTS 35 CLASSIFIEDS 26 Q PUZZLE. .27 MY STARS .„._ 30 LANDMARK DECISION: The U.S. Supreme Court, with the majority decision written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, on Thursday struck down the anti-sodomy Texas statute, Section 21.06 of the Texas Penal Code. Page 6. THRILLED': Gay Houston attorney Mitchell Katine said he and others involved in the Lawrence v. Texas case against the state's so-called homosexual conduct' law are thrilled' at the Supreme Court ruling against the statute. Page 8. RALLIES: Houstonian John Uwrence, who, along with Tyrone Garner is at the center of the case that led to the Supreme Court ruling on the Texas sodomy statute, participated in a Thursday night rally at Houston City Hall Page 8. CORRECTION An arts preview article in the Sept 20, 2002, issue of the Houston Voice included several passages that should have been attributed to freelance writer D. L. Groover of Outsmart Magazine. The Houston Voice regrets the error. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Houston Voice, 500 Lovett Blvd., Suite 200, Houston, TX 77006. Houston Voice is published weekly, on friday, by Window Media LLC Subscriptions are $92/year for 52 issues (only $1.77 per issue)
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