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Larry Bagneris papers


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

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Larry Bagneris papers, 1968-2008 | Amistad Research Center

By Gina K. Armstrong

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Collection Overview

Title: Larry Bagneris papers, 1968-2008Add to your cart.

Primary Creator: Bagneris, Larry, Jr. (1946-)

Extent: 1.2 Linear Feet

Date Acquired: 06/27/2011

Subjects: African American gays, African American politicians, Civil rights politics and legislation, Gay liberation movement, Gay rights - Texas, Human rights advocacy, National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, Washington, D.C., 1987, New Orleans (La.) - Politics and government, Political campaigns

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The papers of civil rights and gay rights activist Larry Bagneris Jr. document his community and political activities in Houston, Texas, and New Orleans, Louisiana. The collection includes correspondence, photographs, speeches, flyers, campaign material, news clippings, biographical material, programs, and various periodicals focused on gay rights and communities.  The earliest material concerns Bagneris' employment with the Washington National Insurance Company (1970-1989). Correspondence is mostly from Houston and New Orleans elected officials regarding Bagneris' political campaigns or his support of correspondents' campaigns; correspondents include: Kathryn J. Whitmire, Marc Morial, Dale Gorczynski, George Greanias, Lance Lalor, Lee P. Brown, Mickey Leland, and Edward Kennedy.

Of particular note are materials that document Bagneris’ activity with the Gay Political Caucus in Houston, including his campaign for presidency of that organization, as well as information on Chicano gays in that city. Correspondence and a project proposal from the National Gay Task Force concern a pilot program to develop a method for enrolling gay business owners five cities in Texas (Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, and San Antonio) in the task force. A small amount of material in the form of flyers and news clippings document the assassination of San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978. Bagneris' political activism in New Orleans is seen in news clippings and campaign material for his campaigns for the City Council in 1990 and State Representative in 1995. Organizations represented in the collection include the International Network of Lesbian and Gay Officials, Louisiana Human Rights Campaign, New Orleans Alliance of Pride, NO/AIDS Task Force. Bagneris' efforts on the national level are documented by materials on his participation in the Executive Session on Human Rights Commissions and Criminal Justice held at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government (2006-2008) and his service as a delegate from Texas to the Democratic Party (1980).

News clippings can be found on the following topics: Bagneris' involvement in the administration of New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin, the election of Annise Parker as Houston's first openly gay major, the first and second National Marches on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights, the inauguration of Bill Clinton as U.S. President, gay rights. Collected publications include issues of the LaFASA Lexicon (Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault), Houston Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus Newsletter, Upfront, and Gay Community News. Photographs (circa 1990-2003) document the NOLA AIDS Task Force, a 1991 AIDS Candlelight memorial, Larry Bagneris at unspecified gatherings and events, and his campaigns for Louisiana State Representative and New Orleans City Council. Also included is a signed photograph of Bobby Kennedy.

Biographical Note

Larry Bagneris, civil rights and LGBT activist in Houston, Texas and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Lawrence “Larry” Bagneris, Jr. is a civil rights activist and insurance and investment professional born in New Orleans on September 15, 1946, to Lawrence Bagneris, Sr., a WWII veteran and postal clerk, and Gloria Diaz Bagneris. The family lived in the Seventh Ward neighborhood of New Orleans until a 1960s federal initiative forced them to relocate to the Gentilly neighborhood.  This so-called “Negro Removal” evolved as a formative experience for Bagneris who formally entered activism during this time as a 16-year-old student at St. Augustine High School, a parochial school for African American boys. His first action, a protest of Jim Crow policies at Maison Blanche department store,led Bagneris to protests and other sit-ins at New Orleans institutions such as FrosTop, Walgreens, and Woolworth’s on Canal Street. The New Orleans Police Department arrested Bagneris at many of these actions, but found him too young to be sent to New Orleans’ Central Lockup, thus sending him to Juvenile Hall instead. During his student years at St. Augustine, Bagneris served as a delegate to the 1963 National Conference for International Justice in Memphis, Tennessee. He also challenged the Diocese of New Orleans over the segregation of Catholic schools and picketed a ceremony to award the Archbishop Rummel papal honors. Bagneris also served as President of the Negro Betterment Council at St. Augustine and ran into racial discrimination again while supporting the 1965 Voting Rights Act in which he along with members of the Longshoreman’s Union faced taunting protestors, blazing a Confederate battle flag in their faces. After graduation from St. Augustine’s, he attended Xavier University of Louisiana and received a B.A. in political science and history. In 1967, while at Xavier, he served as Vice Chair of the Young Democrats of New Orleans, the first African American to do so.

Bagneris’ attention turned from racial to sexual justice, when, as an out gay man, he experienced homophobia at its worst during the 1969 raid on the Stonewall Inn in New York,  an event known as the beginning of the gay rights movement.Bagneris served as a volunteer with the first Annual Women’s Conference in his adopted hometown of Houston, Texas, where he moved to work in order to work for Washington National Life Insurance after his graduation from college. In 1978, Bagneris held a seat on the Board of Directors of the “Stop the Briggs Initiative” campaign, otherwise known as Proposition 6, against which San Francisco Board of Supervisors member Harvey Milk was campaigning. Bagneris visited with Milk to strategize and they later collaborated in Houston. During that same period, Bagneris worked to create a gay pride parade in Houston in which he received insults from police for both his ethnicity and sexual orientation; he worked with that event until 1986. As President of the Houston Gay Political Caucus (later the Houston Gay Lesbian Political Caucus), Bagneris attended the Democratic National Convention in 1980 as the first openly gay delegate from Texas.

From his Houston base of activism, Bagneris moved into the national arena. In the early 1980s, he led the National Gay Task Force (now the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force), which became instrumental in responding to issues crucial to the gay community, especially a governmental response to the burgeoning AIDS crisis. First in 1979, then again in 1987 and 1993, Bagneris led and organized the marches on Washington for civil rights for LGBT people. During the organization of the first march in 1979, he was critical in keeping communities of color from declining to participate in the march, ensuring their voices were heard.

During the run-up to the 1987 march, Baneris moved back to New Orleans with his job and reunited with his close-knit family that included siblings musician and actor Vernel, teacher JoAnn, and physician Gina. After a few more years with Washington National, Bagneris retired and received encouragement to run for New Orleans City Council in 1990, his first attempt at gaining public office. He ran in District C that included a conservative white majority; yet, he beat out 16 other candidates to force a run-off that he would ultimately lose—a victory would have made him New Orleans’ first openly gay elected official. His community work continued in New Orleans after retirement when he joined the staff of NO/AIDS Task Force as Director of Community Outreach. In this position, he educated state legislators about the AIDS virus and had a hand in defeating at least 63 bills detrimental to those living with the diease. Bagneris continued as a political candidate in 1991, 1995, and 1999 when he sought election as a delegate to the Louisiana House of Representatives. Though unsuccessful each time, he garnered visibility for the LGBT community and received varied endorsements throughout his runs.

In 1999, Bagneris received an appointment to his current position as Executive Director of the New Orleans Human Relations Committee. In this position, he receives and mediates complaints of discrimination in housing, public accommodation, and employment between residents and the city. His most challenging period in this position came after the 2005 hurricanes and levee breaches in New Orleans, when the city set up a series of “listening sessions” with residents. Bagneris was one of the few city officials to receive high marks during this process and was reappointed to his position by the current mayor, Mitch Landrieu. He also advises the mayor on LGBT issues and is a board member for N.O. Alliance of PRIDE. Bagneris was also elected to the Board of Directors of the International Conference of Gay and Lesbian Elected Officials.

In addition to his political work, Bagneris founded the Christmas Joy and Toy Giving Program, which distributed clothing, toys, and school supplies to needy children in the B.W. Cooper and St. Thomas Housing Projects in New Orleans. He is active in the Vieux Carre Residential and Business Association, the Chateau Dauphine Homeowner’s Association, and the St. Augustine Alumni Association. He has received numerous awards throughout his career, including the Human Rights Campaign Award, the Forum for Equality Public Service Award, and the Ben Smith Award for Lifetime Achievement from the ACLU. Bagneris served as the keynote speaker at the national Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PLAG) convention in New Orleans, where he gave a moving speech about his life’s journey as a gay man of color.

Subject/Index Terms

African American gays
African American politicians
Civil rights politics and legislation
Gay liberation movement
Gay rights - Texas
Human rights advocacy
National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, Washington, D.C., 1987
New Orleans (La.) - Politics and government
Political campaigns

Administrative Information

Repository: Amistad Research Center

Access Restrictions: The Larry Bagneris papers are open and available for research use.

Use Restrictions: Copyright to these papers has not been assigned to the Amistad Research Center. It is the responsibility of an author to secure permission for publication from the holder of the copyright to any material contained in this collection.

Acquisition Source: Larry Bagneris

Acquisition Method: Gift

Preferred Citation: Larry Bagneris papers, Amistad Research Center, New Orleans, Louisiana

Processing Information: The Larry Bagneris papers were processed in July, 2014.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Box:

[Box 1],
[Box 2],
[Box 3],

Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Washington National Insurance Company: correspondence, 1970-1989Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Harvey Milk Assassination: news clippings, 1978Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Houston Gay Caucus: correspondence and speeches, 1978-1984Add to your cart.
Includes news clippings and ephemera.
Folder 4: Houston Gay Caucus: campaign materials and publications, 1978-1989Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Houston Gay Pride: correspondence and parade judge documents, 1978-2003Add to your cart.
Folder 6: National Gay Task Force: correspondence, 1984-1985Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Marches on Washington: news clippings, 1979-1987Add to your cart.
Folder 8: City Council Race: campaign materials and correspondence, 1989-1991Add to your cart.
Folder 9: State Representative Races: campaign materials, 1990-1999Add to your cart.
Folder 10: NO/AIDS Task Force: news clippings, 1992 and 1995Add to your cart.
Includes letter to board regarding his dismissal.
Folder 11: Clinton/Gore: inaugural invitations, 1996-1997Add to your cart.
Includes hand-signed Christmas card from Clintons.
Folder 12: New Orleans Human Rights Commission: correspondence, 2001-2009Add to your cart.
Includes news clippings and photograph pertaining to Mayor's liaison on LGBT issues.
Folder 13: New Orleans Alliance for Pride: sponsorship documents, 2002-2003Add to your cart.
Box 2Add to your cart.
Folder 1: International Network of Gay and Lesbian Officials: budget documents, 2004Add to your cart.
Folder 2: International Network of Gay & Lesbian Officials: publications, 2003-2004Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Louisiana Human Rights Campaign: programs, 2003-2004Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Harvard Executive Session on Human Rights: session papers, 2006 MayAdd to your cart.
Folder 5: Harvard Executive Session on Human Rights: session papers, 2006 OctoberAdd to your cart.
Folder 6: Harvard Executive Session on Human Rights: session papers, 2007 MarchAdd to your cart.
Folder 7: Harvard Executive Session on Human Rights: session papers, 2007 SeptemberAdd to your cart.
Box 3Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Harvard Executive Session on Human Rights: session papers, 2008 AprilAdd to your cart.
Folder 2: Miscellaneous: resumes, 1970-1990Add to your cart.
Includes a Christmas card from Ted Kennedy.
Folder 3: Photographs: Houston Gay Caucus and Pride, 1979-1984Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Photographs: Washington National Insurance Company, 1986-1989Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Photographs: City Council Race, 1990Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Photographs: NO/AIDS Task Force, 1990-1991Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Photographs: Clinton Inaugural, 1993Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Photographs: State Representative Race, 1996-1999Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Photographs: International Network of Lesbian & Gay Officials, 2004Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Photographs: miscellaneous, 1968, 2008Add to your cart.
Includes a signed photograph of Bobby Kennedy.

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