Lee Harrington

June 17 2020

Age 77, Houston

DOB 9/28/42

I wrote a quick summery of Lee Harrington's terms as Caucus President.

In January 1980 Steve Shiflett won an unprecedented third term as President of the Gay Political Caucus.
By April he had resigned over a Caucus policy dispute and Lee Harrington rose from Vice-President to the
Presidency. So, the gay and lesbian community and the city were getting to know the new leader. The first
article about him in the Houston Post was titled "New leader came here so he could live openly."
Harrington had moved from Michigan where he had adopted three boys, one Black and two Hispanic, a very
diverse family. In the Caucus special election in June, Harrington won easily and worked to streamline
Caucus goals of endorsing candidates and fundraising. But by August he was personally in the headlines
again, when he was fired from his position at the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Council, he said
due to his political activities. He would sue the city the next year.

Also part of a busy year for him was in September when President Jimmy Carter visited Houston and
Harrington was asked to be part of the receiving line to meet him. That event made history in that it was
the first time any U.S. President had officially recognized a gay leader. And Harrington ran unopposed
for his second term in January 1981. That year the Caucus grew in its influence, being one of the forces
in the election of Mayor Kathy Whitmire, and achieved even national esteem, as evidenced by an article
in Newsweek, "Gay Power in Macho Houston." Harrington chose not to run for re-election in January 1982,
but continued to be active in the city's gay politics and especially Pride observations. He was a force behind
removing the obstacles for moving the Parade to a night-time event (1997) and two years later in
crowning the route with a huge (8 ½ foot) mirror disco ball.

below, the 1999 Pride Parade and it's Mirror Ball

Above, at the 1979 March on Washington


and, some acting...

with Lee, behind Kathy

Below, in January 1996 Harrington was already working towards a night parade

Gay Political Caucus