During the 1900s, being anything other than heterosexual was illegal in Dallas, Texas. Members of the LGBTQ community were ghettoized in an area called
Oaklawn – otherwise known as Dallas’ Gayborhood. In the 1930s gays would meet in secrecy between the Magnolia Petroleum building and Commerce and Arkard streets, what was better known as “Maggie’s Corner.” The area was lined with bars that required a gestured code to enter – and it faced continued prejudice. In 1964, hundreds were arrested and deemed “perverts.”
Although there were years of perpetual social isolation for gays across Texas, along with many areas of the United States, their march towards justice persisted. Today, the gay bars have now been replaced with restaurants and apartments that are occupied by heterosexuals and LGBTQ members alike. This a representation of today’s progressive millennial climate and their desire to achieve a more diverse society.
In October of 2018, the roots of Texas’ gay community were granted a marker to recognize their struggles towards societal inclusion in the South. It is fair to say that Texas has not yet reached equal historical representation for the LGBTQ community – considering that there are over 27,000,000 million LGBTQ+ members and one historical marker – but I think this will alert Texans of the need to urge local and state historical commissions to share LGBTQ history and other less-known stories.
Texas has often been reluctant to incorporate different perspectives into its history, so this marker not only serves as justice for the Texas LGBTQ community, but also as a triumphant symbol for Texas History.
Nicole Johnson is a sophomore studying Public History at St. Mary’s University of San Antonio, Texas.