Gay Panic in Cowtown: Houston Pride

This city's gay community pushed back hard.

Hill has also been addressing of late what he refers to as a glass ceiling in local law enforcement. Sally Huffer of the Montrose Counseling Center, which works closely with HPD and the sheriff's department on GLBT sexual assault and domestic violence, says police are extremely responsive to her clients' needs. There are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender officers in Houston. But, according to Hill, they are not appointed to special investigations divisions such as narcotics and homicide, and being out of the closet seems to freeze their rank.

"If you came out of the closet as a lieutenant, you're still a lieutenant," he says. "Leave the academy as a patrolman, and there you shall stay."

Hill rehearsed a version of this in the hallway outside last week's city council meeting. He still makes three or four appearances a year.

Countless Houston City Council members have heard from Ray Hill.
Mike Giglio
Countless Houston City Council members have heard from Ray Hill.

"I'm reluctant to bring these issues up during an election year," he said, "because this is the special time of the year when the folks won't do anything about them."

Hill also planned to address the matter of a certain police officer who had been "bird-dogging" a local drag bar, waiting near the parking lot to pull patrons over and check their IDs. This can be an especially unpleasant prospect for a man in a wig and dress.

"Showtime," Hill said as he walked inside.

At the podium, Hill breezed through his glass ceiling argument and the story about the drag bar and suggested it was time for Houston to grow up. Then he reminded the council that he'd been fighting problems like these since 1958. Councilmember Noriega seemed amused.

"I need to remind you," she said, as Hill's allotted three minutes ran out, "that I've been listening to your stuff since I was at U of H in the 1970s."

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