From Dumpster Diving to Dallas Buyers Club: Gulf Coast Archive and Museum of GLBT History

A conversation with Judy Reeves, Vince Lee, and Leandra Zarnow

Judy Reeves, Vince Lee, and Leandra Zarnow discuss the history of GCAM’s origins.

Judy Reeves—the lead curator who cofounded the Gulf Coast Archive and Museum of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender History (GCAM) in 1999—is a longtime Houston activist. Retired from the medical and banking industries, she participated in a discussion about GCAM’s collections with Dr. Leandra Zarnow, assistant professor of history at the University of Houston, and Vince Lee, head curator of the LGBT Research Collection at University of Houston Libraries, on September 5, 2019, for Dr. Zarnow’s Issues in Feminist Research class in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.


A March 1976 This Week in Texas features Houston bar owner Lynn from Just Marion and Lynn’s on the cover.

Leandra Zarnow: Judy, how did you get into preservation work and develop this curatorial role?
Judy Reeves: I grew up with history in the house and … I’ve always been an activist at heart … So, especially around the time that AIDS began, I had been in the community, and we had been fighting for — I hate to say this — equal rights. I hate that phrase, and I will never succumb to it. … [W]e were protesting in every lane of that, and then when AIDS hit the Houston area, I quickly jumped on that bandwagon along with everybody else in the world because the lesbians — hate that word too — were the ones who were out fighting the hardest because all of our male friends were getting sick. So, that’s what brings me to this. Actually, when we had the meeting [asking], “do we need a museum in this community at all,” I was there, and, yes, all of us in the entire room agreed that we did need a museum. We didn’t really know why, but we did need one…

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Click here to visit the GCAM website for more information about the museum and its history.

Click here for information from OutHistory about Mary’s Naturally, a favorite bar and historic setting in Houston’s LGBTQ history.

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