America’s Oldest Continuously Active Gay Organization Founded In Houston, Texas Publishes 65-Year History Book
The Diana Foundation: 65 Years of History
For nearly a decade, an independent committee has worked to publish the written history of The Diana Foundation, which is the oldest continuously active gay organization in the United States. The book, “The Diana Foundation: 65 Years of History,” chronicles a full 65-year history of the organization. Author Brandon Wolf was joined by members of The Diana Foundation Book Project Committee to celebrate the release of the book at a special event on May 5 at the Westin Memorial City Hotel.
“We are thrilled to complete this important project to share the story of The Diana Foundation,” said Tanner Williams, Book Project Committee Co-Chair. “Our book takes readers on an incredible journey through text and photographs, and explores how America’s oldest active gay organization came to life to Houston, Texas.”
Founded in 1953 in Houston, The Diana Foundation has been a leading organization for the LGBTQ community raising millions of dollars to support local charities in the areas of health services, social services, and educational/cultural endeavors. Many organizations benefiting from the Foundation’s financial support include AIDS Foundation Houston, The Montrose Center, Legacy Community Health Services, The Botts Collection, The University of Houston LGBTQ Resource Center, and many more.
“The Dianas have a long history of supporting Houston’s gay community,” said John Heinzerling, Book Project Committee Co-Chair. “In fact, our book cites many examples where the Dianas provided the seed money to start many wonderful organizations still in operation today. Whenever our community has needed help the most, The Diana Foundation has always been there to make a difference in people’s lives.”
Beginning as a TV watch party for the 25th Academy Awards, The Diana Foundation grew to become a major social and philanthropic organization. Hosting its annual Diana Awards, which is a comedic spoof of the Academy Awards, Diana members roast some of Houston’s finest. Each year, proceeds help support local charities, and the Diana Awards serve as one of Houston’s most celebrated traditions. The newly published book gives an account of Diana Awards shows from 1953 through 2018.
“The Diana Foundation: 65 Years of History” is presented as a 156 page coffee table styled book. Full of pictures and stories from the very first gathering of Diana members in 1953 through the completion of its 65th anniversary, readers will be transported through time. For over six decades, Diana members –members of the Houston gay community –have made significant contributions shaping one of the most vibrant and philanthropic cities in the country.
Author Brandon Wolf offers, “Telling the story of the Dianas is to tell the story of gay life in Houston. The history of the Dianas is a labor of love, inspired by the wit and spirit of the people who began the organization and those who continue it. When I think about it, the history is just fascinating. It is an inspirational tribute to the human spirit in general and to the determination of gay people in particular. The story of the Dianas is the story of emotional survival amidst oppression – the utter resolve to change the world we live in – and the determination to have a good time in the process. This book is thus dedicated to the spirit of the Dianas, and every individual who gave life to that spirit.”
Over 4,000 photographs and 500 documents were reviewed, and 100 interviews were conducted to piece together the written history of The Diana Foundation. To produce the book, thousands of photographs were digitized and will be shared with The Diana Foundation’s Historic Archive housed at the University of Houston Library’s LGBT Collection. In addition, many historic artifacts were uncovered and will also be added to the archive.
“The Diana Archive at the University of Houston provides the Dianas with a permanent home to share its history with the world,” said Williams. “The purpose of telling the story of the Dianas is to provide real stories about gay life in the United States and give researchers something truly special to reference. Whereas a lot of our collective history may have been lost, our book gives a detailed account of how an Oscars watch party in 1953 grew to become a powerful organization helping thousands of people for more than 65 years.”
Forty-one historical institutions featuring an LGTBQ collection have already been identified to receive a copy of the book and include ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archive, Stonewall National Museum & Archives, the Library of Congress, University of Houston Libraries, and the Texas A&M LGBTQ Archive. Ten international collections selected include the Australian Lesbian & Gay Archives, Hatter Society & Archive in Hungary, Irish Queer Archive in Ireland, Schwules Museum in Germany, IHLIA LGBT Heritage in the Netherlands, and five collections throughout Canada. Additional collections and archives will be reviewed with a total of 175 books being donated throughout the world.
A limited number of books are available for sale online at www.DianaHistoryBook.com. The book website also provides a free download in PDF format. The Book Project Committee plans to launch its eBook through popular vendors in June. Thanks to the generous support of Book Project donors, the eBook version of “The Diana Foundation: 65 Years of History” will also be available for free download.
Los Angeles has the Oscars. New York has the Tonys. Houston will forever have the Dianas.
Founded in 1953, The Diana Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit recognized as America’s oldest continuously active gay organization. The Diana Book Project Committee is an independent collaboration of dedicated members. The Diana Book Project is 100 percent funded by the generous support of donors. Additional details may be available at www.DianaHistoryBook.com and www.TheDianaFoundation.org.