Raymond Wayne “Ray” Hill, 78, passed away on Saturday, November 24, 2018 from complications of congestive heart failure at Omega House Hospice in Houston, Texas. Born October 13, 1940, the youngest son of Raymond Washington Hill and Mary Frankie Taylor grew up in the Houston area, and maintained ties to the family farm and relatives in Leon County, Texas throughout his life. He graduated from Galena Park High School and attended college at Stephen F. Austin State University, the University of Houston, and Tulane.
Smart, witty, attractive and charming, he quickly became a leader among his peers, first as a teen evangelist, and later as a crusader for LGBTQ rights, equality, civil rights issues and prison reform. He was at varying times a bon vivant keeping company with the likes of Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams, a principal in the LGBTQ movement alongside legendary figures like Harvey Milk, or a caring friend and helper to the unknown, disadvantaged and oppressed.
He played pivotal roles in the founding of the Promethean Society, Pacifica Radio (KPFT-FM), Houston Human Rights League, Houston Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, Kaposi’s Sarcoma Foundation (now AIDS Foundation Houston). He created the award-winning radio shows of Wilde N Stein focused on gay and lesbian issues and The Prison Show. Ray was the author of the first “Safe Sex Pamphlet” in the nation to help curb the spread of AIDS. He also authored and performed several one-person shows including Ray Hill, The Prison Years, Ray Hill & The Sex Police, Outlaw, Queer Like Ray Hill, and A Stroll Through Houston Gay History with Ray Hill.
Among his many accomplishments was winning a Supreme Court case against the City of Houston in 1987 which led to labels of citizen provocateur and pesky, contentious troublemaker in the case record. His win forced revisions in the policy of restricting citizen engagement in a police arrest. Ray also created The Prison Show which has aired on KPFT since 1980 and provides a forum for prisoners to hear information about prison-related topics, as well as messages from loved ones. Ray had served 4 years in a Texas prison for burglary which sparked his interest in improving the life of those serving time. He was also a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and was extremely proud of his 59 years of sobriety.
The richness of his life is defined by the many friends he made in his lifetime from all walks of life and the many honors received for his service to others.
Predeceased by his parents and three siblings, Sherrell Wayne Hill, Kathy Lee Harris and Mary Rae Hartman, Ray is survived by his niece Mary Gibbs and other cousins, nephews and extended family.
A celebration of the life of Ray Hill will be held on the steps of Houston’s City Hall on December 2nd at 2 pm per his request. Ray was born near City Hall where The Methodist Hospital was then located, and he frequently led political rallies and protests on the grounds of City Hall, so it is fitting that he closes the circle of life at this place. A private family burial of his cremated remains will occur later in the family cemetery in Leon County.