Austin is well-known as a haven for the LGBT community and has for a long time been invested in LGBT rights and activism. Although the public LBGT community outreach is still developing, especially in Texas, the following people are known for their efforts and involvement in breaking down that barrier and the stigmas behind LGBT community outreach.
After moving to Austin in the 1980s, Maxey immediately became a political activist for gay rights. In a televised interview advocating on behalf of health benefits for those inflicted with AIDS, Maxey publicly came out as a gay activist. Not only was he on the forefront of LGBT activist issues, but in 1991 Maxey became the first openly gay member elected into the Texas Legislature. Maxey served for 12 years in the legislature and passed more bills in his last term than any other member of the House.
First coming onto the scene in the 1970s, Bettie Naylor was known for her activism and lobbying on behalf of female politicians, marriage equality, AIDS health care and the entire LGBT community. While advocating one of these various causes, she came out as a member of the LGBT community, making her work even more personal. A major part of her legacy is the protection she provided for gay bars around Austin by organizing the Bar Owners Association of Texas to appeal to the legislature after many gay bars in the area were vandalized. Even after her death in 2012, Naylor’s icon resounds in Austin’s legacy of LGBT rights and engagement.
Though not a member of the LGBT community herself, Richards was known to be a champion of LGBT rights and feminism. Richards was the 45th Texas governor from 1991–1995 and was the first state official to designate a liaison between her office and the LGBT community. She was known to be outspoken for LGBT rights and was recognized as a powerful friend to the community.
Currently serving as Austin’s police monitor, Margo Frasier has paved the way for many women and members of the LGBT community in law enforcement. From 1997–2004, she served as Travis County’s first female and first openly gay sheriff. Frasier challenged the glass ceiling not only for women but also for LGBT individuals, making her growing legacy one of incredible power and authority.
John Lawrence and Tyron Garner
Made famous by the 2003 Supreme Court decision Lawrence v. Texas, these individuals impacted the national gay community in their legal protest to pay fines for having sex in their home. After refusing to pay the fines, the couple approached the courts with a challenge that resulted in the abolishment of prejudicial laws labeled as anti-sodomy laws. Though the pair did not reside in Austin, their influence reached throughout Texas and significantly impacted the Austin LGBT community.
This real estate mogul and developer is responsible for many of Austin’s most treasured locations, such as Hotel San José, Fair Market and Jo’s Coffee. Along with her success as an Austin businesswoman, Lambert is a proud member of the LGBT community. Her current standing as a prominent Austinite is said to broadly encourage others to feel comfortable with their LGBT status, and her wide range of hotels and spaces throughout the city enforce the idea that Austin and its businesses are friends of the LGBT community.