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Montrose Voice, No. 162, December 2, 1983
File 009
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Montrose Voice, No. 162, December 2, 1983 - File 009. 1983-12-02. University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. January 22, 2021. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/5357/show/5340.

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.

(1983-12-02). Montrose Voice, No. 162, December 2, 1983 - File 009. Montrose Voice. University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/5357/show/5340

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.

Montrose Voice, No. 162, December 2, 1983 - File 009, 1983-12-02, Montrose Voice, University of Houston Libraries, accessed January 22, 2021, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/5357/show/5340.

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 Montrose Voice, No. 162, December 2, 1983
Contributor
  • McClurg, Henry
Publisher Community Publishing Company
Date December 2, 1983
Language English
Subject
  • LGBTQ community
  • LGBTQ people
  • Gay liberation movement
Place
  • Houston, Texas
Genre
  • newspapers
Type
  • Text
Identifier OCLC: 22329406
Collection
  • University of Houston Libraries Special Collections
  • LGBT Research Collection
  • Montrose Voice
Rights In Copyright
Note This item was digitized from materials loaned by the Gulf Coast Archive and Museum (GCAM).
Item Description
Title File 009
Transcript THOUGHTS FROM SHIFLETT: a) "Ray (Hill) was the only one who knew how to play City Hall, b) There was tension all along in the Caucus' development as to who really spoke for the gay community, and that problem still exists with us today, c) Leaders are born, not made. Shiflett Leaves with Strong Parting Thoughts from page 1 occured in his life that has influenced his direction to this day. "One of my friends in high school committed suicide," he reflected, "It was because of his gayness that his family ridiculed him and destroyed his concept of self-worth. And ever since that day, I was very committed to making people understand that it was okay to be gay, because I knew that I was okay. "So from a long time ago, I was building up that desire to do something about the problem, because I saw it come into my life and it affected me very profoundly," he said sadly. "And I was in high school." Shiflett's activism, spurred by the death of a gay friend and coupled with his natural political bent, was further anchored by the teachings of his family. He feels that much of his leadership ability comes from "the moral strength from my family—the way I was brought up. I was commited to a quality of life andmakingsure that justice should be done. "There were a lot of wrongs being done out there that I wanted to straighten out," he said of the gay vs. non-gay society of the early 70's. "You don't get prepared for that except in your upbringing. Leaders are born, not made." So with his lion's share of enthusiasm and a zealot's ire at injustice, Shiflett returned to Houston and found the turf already plowed, waiting for the seeds to be planted that would grow and make Houston's gay community a viable political force on the local, state and national levels. "When I moved here and saw that there was a quality gay community and people within the community were aspiring to do good things with their lives and were not just into a drag-queen lifestyle," he said, "I was so inspired that my life started to blossom. "I got to watch peripherally the GPC organize," he said of 1975, "because I lived in an apartment complex of people who were organizing it." This combination of his past and present provided the spark for Shiflett's leadership in the community when two years after his arrival Anita Bryant brought her "Save Our Children" campaign to Houston. Prior to her arrival, Shiflett said that "there really wasn't a sense of community at all, but that year really gave it some xious credentials.' '; eiiyJfl were private and closed, were engulfed in a tidal wave of protest directed at the orange juice queen, so much so that 10,000 people participated in a candlelight march to City Hall in protest of Bryant's self- righteous blasts at gay people everywhere. "I was so overwhelmed with emotion and felt so much pride," Shiflett said of the candlelight march, "that that's when I first understood the meaning of 'gay pride.' I had heard of the concept, but I didn't understand it. It took Dade County (Bryant's Florida base where she led an anti-gay referendum) to enlighten me of this new feeling that was sweeping the country." But despite the appearance of 10,000 gay people and their supporters, Houston's and the nation's news media looked the other way, a media position which finally catapulted Shiflett into the mainstream of gay politics. "I was really irritated at the way the media handled the Anita Bryant march," he said angrily. "Not only did they underestimate the numbers of people who were there, they didn'tdescribethesignificance of events the way our community wanted to see it—the way they felt." Outraged and ready to capitalize on his past experience as well as his past emotions, Shiflett was then drawn irrevocably to the organization he had watched being bom—Houston's Gay Political Caucus, a group of 20 or so community-oriented individuals who held their meetings upstairs at the old Inside/Outside (now Texas Renegades) and the Depository II. "The caucus at that time was somewhat small and had a feeling of fraternity, not really politics. People got together to make each other feel good—working on press releasee. They really didn't have a real serious agenda, and not too many people came to the meetings, either. It surely didn't have too much money." Then using the media slight as his jumping-off point, Shiflett became involved with the caucus' Media Monitoring Committee, the only active committee within the early caucus, other than its mailing committee which Shiflett felt was the caucus' backbone. "We were able to get the media to ascertain the GPC committee as a significant, constituent group that had needs to be met under the guidelines of the FCC. And that was an accomplishment," hesaidofoneof his (and the GPC's) first achievement. id we also established connections and they realized who the people were they for the star in the east, could call for news." »But there was tension all along in the Then Shiflett was ready to make a little caucus' development as to who really spoke for the gay community, and that news of his own The fledgling organization was under Don Hrachovy, an interim president who followed Gary Van Ooteghem, and a timid board, and there was no one guiding force at the wheel of what Shiflett thought should be a much more powerful political group. Shiflett then sized up what he saw as the community's needs and went after obtaining them, and just began to create the waves that would see him resign from the GPC's presidency several years later. "The leadership of the caucus was hesitant They were overwhelmed with their own personal lives and work and really didn't have the time to devote to a new agenda for the GPC." Consequently a coup was organized against existing GPC bylaws and the Media Monitoring Committee called for a special election for a new president. Prior to the election, Shiflett was introduced to City Hall by gay activist Ray Hill, whom he admits helped him in his first years by stearing him through Houston's gay political waters. "Ray was the only one who really knew how to play City Hall," Shiflett said, remembering the times Hill took him downtown and told him "and this is the way it works. "He was a real good teacher," Shiflett added. Then a meeting was arranged by Hill, whom some members of the GPC felt was out to control the gay community, for Shiflett to meet then Mayor Jim McConn, an event that further pushed Shiflett toward his goal, that of becoming president of the GPC. "I wasn't real pleased with the way that meeting went and felt like I could do a good job in dealing with the kind of people we were dealing with downtown. I informed Gregg Bell (who was running for the GPC presidency) on the way home (from the meeting) that I was going to run for president. Bell reacted negatively to Shiflett's announcement and became furious with him, Shiflett said. And although Bell was the hardest worker the GPC had, according to Shiflett, "He wasn't presidential quality, in my opinion." But Shiflett overrode Bell's objections, as well as the objections of others within the caucus, and capitalized on what was a \fcto(fcrinfc^Utieal group poking - *» tWVWMMMBMMMnBVM problem still exists with us today." "And it was that quick of a decision," he said of his first presidential bid. "I just felt like I had some things to offer that the people downtown would respond to." What Shiflett felt he had to offer centered around his professionalism: the way he asked questions, the way he got the right answers, the way he was able to get people to size-up major issues. The caucus apparently felt so, too, for in March of'78, he was elected as the group's third president. Then began the series of what Shiflett calls "quantum leaps" which occurred during his administration. Three months after his election, the GPC had manufactured an influential bloc vote. "I knew that I could get the caucus involved in grass roots politics because of my background. They just didn't know the avenue that was available to them— organizing at the precinct level—and that's what I wanted to do." Then following the May Democratic primaries, Shiflett, along with Ray Hill, urged the caucus to open up a Town Meeting, an event which Shiflett says could mean as much to the commmunity today, if repeated, as it did back in 1978. Prior to the Town Meeting which Shiflett regards as being one of the most important political events that this community has ever seen, he met with various members of the community six weeks before over 3000 people filed into the Astrodome to make their voices heard in Houston's gay community. "What was so significant about Town Meeting was that it really established a serious foundation for the (gay) movement to go forward," he said of the event. "It set an agenda and it gained consensus from the community. When you have that many people participating in decisionmaking, you can't help but come out with some kind of benefit. "And we ended up having large numbers of people join the GPC at Town Meeting. New organizations proliferated overnight. It was amazing what Anita Bryant had done to us. It magnified 10- fold that day (of the march), even though we didn't have the numbers. "After getting consensus like that," he continue "we rmrfa Wry cohesive and uhrffed con
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