Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Advertise in our classifieds section
Your classified listing could be here!
October 4, 2022

Austin City Council approves historical marker to commemorate historical, cultural significance of LGBTQ+ bars on 4th Street

Connor Downs/The Daily Texan
Oilcan Harry’s is one one of the several LGBTQ+ nightclubs on Austin’s historically queer fourth street at risk of closure after a proposal was made to turn a portion of the block into a high-rise.

Austin City Council approved the installation of a new historical marker commemorating the city’s unofficial LGBTQ+ district during the Sept. 14 City Council meeting. 

The marker, which will be located on 4th and Colorado streets, plans to commemorate the historical and cultural significance of the LGBTQ+ bars on 4th Street.

Computer science freshman Anya Gokul said the historical marker exemplifies Austin’s support for its LGBTQ+ population.

“(The marker) shows that they are taking a political stance against the larger goal of what the Texas government is doing,” Gokul said.

Mechanical engineering junior Alyssa Dixon said the marker will help University students learn about Austin’s commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.

“Because we’re from all different places, and a lot of queer people on campus are not from accepting places,” Dixon said. “(The marker) lets them know that Austin is a place that’s really rooted in queer culture.”

Gokul said the marker carries personal significance and that having a marker shows that her identity is something that can’t be erased.

“I grew up in a place where if you were gay, trans, or anything like that, it was very hush-hush, keep it behind closed doors,” Gokul said. “Commemorating a marker like this is especially significant to me because it’s something to be proud of, your identity and having this beautiful community.” 

However, the marker also prompted concerns for LGBTQ+ activists like Hayden Williams, founder and executive director of Austin Queer Connection. He said that his concern is over whether this historic marker will “provide any legal protections to the existing structures” or is simply commemorative.

In May 2022, the Historic Landmark Commission unanimously voted to initiate historic protections for the properties on 4th and Colorado streets after activists raised concerns about a development company wanting to demolish existing structures to build a high rise. The commission later reversed its decision that June, meaning the bars could potentially face demolition.

According to the City of Austin’s 2021 LGBTQIA+ Quality of Life study, around 51% of LGBTQ+ individuals identified LGBTQ+ bars and clubs as their go-to for activities and events.

“You tear (these properties) down or displace them, you’re taking away the safe spaces for all those people,” Williams said. “I think that queer people are worthy of space and I think that our safe spaces are worthy of preservation. And I think that you can’t really call yourself an ally if you aren’t actively fighting for intentionally queer spaces.”

More to Discover