Every association needs a assiduous irritant — a bedrock in the shoe of borough consciousness. Addition charge be accommodating to blow and crowd the bigger angels of our nature, lest they blooper into slumber.
Ray Hill, who died Saturday at 78, ably abounding that role in Houston for decades. A active best of abhorred causes, Hill fought for the rights of gay and lesbian bodies at a time back they were broadly despised. He formed for years to accomplish activity a little bigger for prisoners, an alike added marginalized group.
He challenged authority, and not aloof for the account of actuality ornery. His affront got results.
On the streets of the Montrose breadth in February 1982, Hill saw a acquaintance affianced in a battle with a badge officer. Best bodies would airing the added way, but Hill got in the officer’s face: “Why don’t you aces on somebody your own size?” he shouted.
Hill was arrested beneath a burghal authorization that fabricated it a abomination to “interrupt” an administrator assuming his duties. An absolution didn’t amuse him; he filed clothing arduous the law, and in 1987 the U.S. Supreme Court addled it down, cardinal that criticism of badge admiral was adequate chargeless speech.
One of the justices referred to Hill as a “citizen provocateur,” a appellation he admired so abundant he had it printed on his business cards.
Hill played a basal role in Houston’s gay rights movement, which has broadened to represent added animal minorities. In the 1970s, afterwards confined four years in bastille for break-in and larceny, Hill organized affairs and helped to actualize the community’s aboriginal amusing and political organizations. Hill and his colleagues congenital an basement for LGBT bodies to action for the befalling to alive with address and participate absolutely and aboveboard in society.
His assignment on account of bastille inmates, aggressive by his own incarceration, was appropriately groundbreaking. Countless inmates heard the choir of mothers, wives, brothers, sons and daughters who alleged into “the Bastille Show,” which Hill hosted for abounding years on radio base KPFT. Outside the studio, he advocated about for inmates’ basal rights, arguing that their crimes didn’t abolish their humanity.
Many a night, Hill was alive by a buzz alarm from addition in the association defective advice with a acknowledged or claimed problem. Hill consistently knew the appropriate being to call, the appropriate strings to pull.
Above all, Hill was fearless. He came out as a jailbait in the blue-collar suburb of Galena Park in the 1950s — afore the Stonewall demonstrations in New York ushered in the gay civilian rights movement, afore burghal Supervisor Harvey Milk was assassinated in San Francisco, afore Houston broker Paul Broussard was baffled and stabbed to afterlife by teenagers out for a night of gay-bashing.
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