Saving Our History
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July 18, 1975
“The Gay Life” becomes the first public newspaper article covering the LGBTQ community in the Coastal Bend by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Forty-three years later, the Caller-Times would re-publish over fifty pictures and articles of past coverage in a special edition for the city’s 2018 Pride celebration.
May 5, 1980
Started as a leather/denim bar for the gay male community, the Hidden Door opened on Morgan Street before moving to its present location, pictured above, in 1987 on Coleman Avenue and Staples Street. The current structure originally housed Miss Odem’s Boarding House, which provided meals and lodging to men. Today, the building has undergone extensive renovations and expansions to include The Loft and outside patio spaces.
The Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) opened a local church in 1984. Founded in Southern California in 1968, the MCC was created by and for the LGBTQ community. More than a worship center, the MCC in Corpus Christi also provided a community space and vocal presence on issues of faith, health, and social welfare during its 34 years in town. Lacking funding, the MCC closed its doors in 2018.
The Coastal Bend AIDS Foundation was founded in 1986 by a “group of concerned citizens, who wanted to help people dying of AIDS. The group started by delivering food and blankets from the trunk of a car. As the disease became more chronic rather than acute, and funding became available for additional services, the agency grew to provide additional support services for those living with HIV and AIDS.”
Rudy Cardona owned Texas Crown Productions which created and organized the Miss Corpus Christi America, Miss Corpus Christi Metroplex, Miss Nueces County, Miss Texas Riviera, and Mr. Corpus Christi pageants in Corpus Christi, Texas from 1990-1996. Victor Lopez served as co-creator and photographer for the pageants. The pageants were part of the Miss Gay Texas America pageant, the largest and oldest pageant system for female impersonators in Texas.
The Passage, an HIV/AIDS hospice, would open in January 1992 providing critical end-of-life care for local AIDS patients. By World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, 1996, the “Tree of Life” quilt would commemorate over 80 lives that The Passage had provided care for within its first four years. The Passage would close in 1998 due to limited funding as well as the arrival of new classes of drugs that would change the prognosis for patients.
Peer support group for gay, lesbian, and bisexual youths between ages 12-22 meets for the first time at MCC. Similar groups of LGBTQ youth would form over the decades to provide peer support for one another.
April 4, 1993
Magic Mile (hosted by the Bay Area Consortium on HIV/AIDS) includes a 10K, 5K, and 2-mile run-walk to raise funds for The Passage, The Loving Spoonful, and the Coastal Bend AIDS Foundation and raises over $24,000. About 1,490 participants doubled the previous year’s 750 individuals who had raised $17,000. Similar events would be held during the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis to raise funds for local organizations that serviced the HIV positive community.
Gay Pride Parade: “About 100 gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and their supporters took part in a gay pride parade at the intersection of Shoreline and Interstate 37 and ended at John Sartain Street.”
October 13, 1998
Premiere of the controversial play Corpus Christi by famed playwright and Corpus Christi native Terrence McNally in New York City. Corpus Christi re-imagines Jesus and his Apostles as gay men living in South Texas. McNally graduated from W.B. Ray in 1956 and went on to win four Tony Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, and an Emmy Award. Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2018, Terrence McNally early years as a gay youth in conservative Corpus Christi helped influence the writings of his “trailblazing plays, musicals, operas and screenplays about sexuality, homophobia, faith, the power of art, the need to connect and finding meaning in every moment of life, including Next (1969), The Ritz (1975), Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune (1982), Kiss of the Spider Woman (1992), Love! Valour! Compassion! (1994), Master Class (1995), Ragtime (1996), Dead Man Walking (2000), The Full Monty (2000) and Mothers and Sons (2014).”
December 12, 1998 – January 2002
Between 1998 and 2002, the Coastal Bend Gay Pride Alliance created an online presence during the internet’s early days in order to “promote unity in the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay Male, Transgender, and Heterosexual Community in the Texas Coastal Bend.” Though short-lived, the CBGPA and its organizers made important strides at establishing public pride events like a parade, annual festival, online magazine and store.
May 12, 2001
CATCH Prom: Corpus Christi Area Teen Coalition of Homosexuals hosts “A Starry Night” Alternative Prom at St. Paul United Church of Christ at 5525 Lipes Blvd for 14-to-20 year olds.
June 8, 2002
The Metropolitan Community Church helped organize and host several Pride celebrations over the years including this 2002 Pride Fest.
December 1, 2010
Sponsored by the Sigmi Phi Epsilon fraternity, the University Counseling Center, the Coastal Bend AID Foundation, and the Male Central Clinic, World AIDS Day 2010 was commemorated on the Texas A&M University Corpus Christi campus with public speakers, music, and free HIV testing.
June 27, 2015
Lisa Tober and Fanny Chirinos-Tober, both 41, were the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license in Nueces County on Friday, five hours after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. The first license issued in Nueces County was at about 2 p.m. “We’ve been waiting 18 years. We can wait a little longer.”
October 22, 2015
Dr. Drewey Wayne Gunn (1938-2018) delivers reflections on a half century of living and working as a gay literary historian at Texas A&M University Kingsville. His talk “From the Closet to the Open Stacks: Reflections on the Past Fifty Years at the University” can be accessed online. After retirement in 2001, Dr. Gunn published eight books on gay pulp fiction including The Gay Male Sleuth in Print and Film and For the Gay Stage: A Guide to 465 Plays, Aristophanes to Peter Gill. His fascinating life was covered by the Kingsville Record and Bishop News.
May 22, 2018
Eric Holguin captures the Democratic Party’s nomination for the 27th Texas Congressional District making him the first out member of the Coastal Bend community to campaign in a national political race. Holguin remarked to Out Smart, a Houston LGBTQ magazine, “So a lot of LGBTQ youth—a lot of LGBTQ people in general—are very inspired, because they see someone who is fearless. I don’t really care what people think about me and my sexual orientation.”
The current timeline is only meant to be representational (and not exhaustive) of local LGBTQ history. As collections develop, dedicated webpages may be devoted to focused issues.