It’s been 25 years since 27-year-old Paul Broussard was killed on Independence Day morning in 1991 by a group of 10 young men. Houston Public Media’s Ernie Manouse’s new documentary A Murder in Montrose: The Paul Broussard Legacy examines how Houston’s LGBT community was forever changed by this notorious event.
“No matter what happened in the crime or on that parking lot, it set off an explosion of community reactions,” Manouse said. “So many things came from it—our politicians changed, our laws changed, our community changed and our city changed.”
Manouse is well aware of the unintentional timing of the documentary's release just two weeks after 49 people were killed at a gay Orlando nightclub. Despite this and other setbacks throughout the years, his documentary highlights the strides made in the LGBT community, like the 2003 Supreme Court ruling "Lawrence v. Texas" that ended the state’s antiquated sodomy laws as well as the legalization of same-sex marriages nationwide in 2015.
The documentary interviews major figures in the Houston LGBT and political community, such as former Mayer Annise Parker, her wife Kathy Hubbard, City of Houston Victim Rights Advocate Andy Kahan, State Representatives Sefronia Thompson and Garnet Coleman, City Councilwoman Ellen Cohen and LGBT activist Ray Hill, who spearheaded the protests in the wake of Broussard’s death. Manouse also interviews other activists who protested in 1991, creating an oral history of the effects of the Broussard murder on Houston and the LGBT community nationwide.
“[The LGBT community] saw the attack as the final straw that broke the camel’s back,” Manouse said. “It wasn’t even the fact that, yes, they believed in the moment that it was a hate crime. It was also the understanding that the police seemed to say that they weren’t going to do anything about it.”
In 1991, Montrose had been a hotbed of violence against the LGBT community living and socializing there. Police and ambulance response was slow in the area, in part due to fear of those suffering from HIV and AIDS.
"When this crime happened, the community said, ‘Enough is enough,'" Manouse shared. "But what made this different was that the city as a whole came together for the community. It was the first time both gay and the straight communities fought for something they believed in together."
More than two decades later, Manouse is bringing the communities together again for feedback as Houston Public Media hosts a town hall directly after the documentary airs. Tickets are now sold out, but HPM viewers can tune in to hear discussions about the Broussard case with Manouse and HPM and share their thoughts on social media through the hashtag #Montrose1991.
Manouse hopes the documentary illustrates the tragedy of Broussard’s death while also highlighting the strides gained in the LGBT community since then.
“I don’t want Paul Broussard to have died in vain,” Manouse said.
A Murder in Montrose: The Paul Broussard Legacy airs on Houston Public Media TV 8 on Thursday, June 23 at 8 p.m. amurderinmontrose.org