Remembering Mary's...Naturally: Mobilizing Collective Histories against Gentrification and Dispossession


ACLS HBCU Faculty Fellowships


History, Geography, Economics, and General Studies


This project takes a place-based approach to examine how Mary's...Naturally, a key historic gay bar in Houston, Texas, continues to remain viable in community memory despite its closure due to gentrification. Mary’s operated from 1969 through 2009, making it one of the longest-serving gay bars in Houston. The building previously occupied by Mary’s, located in the gentrified Montrose District, is now the site of a coffee shop. Throughout the time it was open, the bar served as a grounding place for community building and political activism. When no funeral homes in the city were accepting the bodies of those afflicted with AIDS, the “outback” area of Mary’s became a space where countless memorial services were held during the AIDS crisis, and the ashes of numerous individuals were spread or buried on site. Although Mary’s has been closed for years, community remembrances continue to foreground the importance of this site. These community remembrances work against the erasures of gentrification as a counter-veiling force to materialist/capitalist constructions of space. This project works with communities of memory to conduct oral histories of Mary's patrons and draws on existing community archives to create digital histories of Mary's for the public, educators, and students.