Frederick Walter “Fred” Parris, a D.C. area resident in the 1970s and 1980s and a co-founder of the Northern Virginia Gay Alliance, died March 4 in Houston of congestive heart failure. He was 62.
He served as a freelance writer for the Washington Blade in the early 1980s and is credited with drawing early attention to the subject of gay teen suicide through a series of stories he wrote for the Blade in 1982 on that issue.
He is the author of the 1984 book, “All You Can Eat: Your Guide to 1,000 Buffet Restaurants Priced $7.95 or Less.”
Parris was born Nov. 12, 1948, in Manhattan, Kan. He graduated from Kansas University in 1970 with a major in journalism. He received the William Allen White Award for excellence in feature writing in his role as a writer for the University Daily Kansan newspaper.
He received a master’s degree in library science from Kansas’s Emporia University and later worked for five years with the Memphis Public Library system. During his residence in Memphis, Parris served as news editor for Gaiety, a monthly gay and lesbian publication. His work with the paper included interviews with singer Joan Baez and author Truman Copote.
He moved to the D.C. area in 1976, where he became involved with a number of LGBT rights groups and causes. He also became an advocate for seniors and pushed for tenant rights for seniors and lower-income people in a D.C. area suburb, according to his brother David Parris.
Upon his relocation to Houston in 1989, Parris worked in various positions for the Houston Public Library. He served as a local history reference librarian and collection development specialist for the Texas division at the Houston Metropolitan Research Center. In that capacity, Parris created and served as curator for two popular exhibits – “Anita Bryant Comes to Houston, 1977” and “Houston During World War II.”
He retired from the Houston Public Library in May 2008.
Survivors include a sister, Rosemary Parris Bennet; a brother, David Parris; a niece, Lauren Bennett; and a nephew, Adam Bennett.
A private memorial service is scheduled in Houston on May 1. Contributions can be made to the “It Gets Better Project,” an effort aimed at preventing LGBT teen suicide.