12 Crimes That Changed the LGBT World
BY Diane Anderson-Minshall
May 07 2012 2:03 AM ET
On July 4, 1991, a 27-year-old Houston banker was murdered and his two friends injured by a group of 10 young men who attacked them with nail-studded wooden planks, a knife, and steel-toed boots outside Heaven, a gay bar in the city’s heavily LGBT Montrose district. Paul Broussard died several hours after the attack, and his death led to a flurry of gay protests in front of the home of Mayor Kathy Whitmire (at 2 a.m.), in the affluent Woodlands (where Queer Nation protested near the homes of many of the 10 attackers), and then later throughout the Montrose neighborhood.
The latter was the largest LGBT civil disobedience action in the city’s history. At the time, David Fowler, a founder of the local Queer Nation chapter, articulated what many felt: “This is Houston’s Stonewall. People have finally said, ‘We’re fed up, we’ve had enough, and we’re not going to take it anymore.’” At the time, City Council candidate Annise Parker was as surprised as others that LGBT protesters took to the streets in such volume; she told The Advocate, “Houston is not a city that supports protest well.” Within days of Broussard’s murder, all l5 members of Houston’s City Council (including ones who had opposed gay rights ordinances previously) voted for a resolution asking then-governor Ann Richards to put a hate-crimes bill on the legislature’s agenda.
All 10 men were convicted of the killing. Only one remains in prison today: Jon Buice, sentenced to 45 years in 1992. The coroner had determined that the stabbing — which Buice admitted to — was what ultimately killed Broussard. Buice has been up for parole several times, each time denied.
Broussard’s murder led to a long push for hate-crimes protections, which passed in Texas a decade after his death (but to this day still don’t cover transgender individuals). In the area where Broussard was killed, the Montrose Remembrance Garden was dedicated last year to the victims of anti-LGBT crimes in the area and as a means to foster peace and tolerance. According to the Dallas Voice, there have been 35 people killed in the neighborhood since a pastor’s gay teenage son was killed in 1979, including Aaron Scheerhoorn, who was stabbed in December 2010, escaped his attacker and sought refuge in a local gay club, and was turned away only to be found again by his attacker, who killed him.