A Journey of Dedication

PRIDE Parade Grand Marshals: Clair Koetitz & Lyndon Marquez’s Impactful Commitment to Community

By Las Vegas PRIDE Magazine Staff

Clair embarked on his involvement with the LGBT community in the mid-70s, pioneering the establishment of Montana’s first gay bar and organizing the state’s inaugural Miss Montana pageant. Regrettably, these endeavors achieved considerable success at the time but did not thrive within the prevailing social context. A series of career-related relocations ultimately led Clair to West Texas, where he crossed paths with Lyndon.

Lyndon’s upbringing in West Texas revolved around a commitment to public service. “West Texas is a giving community,” Lyndon remarked. “Friends from pre-school to now are in constant contact, and they are still the family there!”

Clair Koetitz (left) and Lyndon Marquez (right)

Clair Koetitz (left) and Lyndon Marquez (right)

One Friday night, Clair found himself at the only gay establishment in West Texas, while Lyndon and his friends coincidentally arrived at the same venue. Unbeknownst to Clair, one of Lyndon’s friends harbored an interest in him and sent Lyndon over as a chaperone to ensure his safety. Lyndon, who served as the Marketing Director at the Petroleum Museum, had just returned from a week in the oil fields, offering them plenty of common ground for conversation. At the time, Clair worked for ARCO. Their discussion ranged from the intricacies of drilling techniques, including the emergence of horizontal drilling, to the significance of closed-well sites in West Texas and the Southwest, and the importance of secondary recovery methods. This unique conversation sparked a deep connection, as the two have remained together for 30 years, with 15 of those years spent in marriage.

Lyndon exhibited extensive involvement in numerous charitable organizations, including the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, Museum of the Southwest, and the Confederate Air Museum. He swiftly encouraged Clair to participate and assume leadership roles on various boards within these organizations.

The 1990s witnessed the rise of equal rights issues in healthcare, becoming a prominent concern. During their tenures as leaders in the American Cancer Society and American Diabetes Association, both Clair and Lyndon delivered numerous speeches and workshops addressing healthcare inequality and other pertinent issues of the era. The Executive Directors of these organizations propelled these concerns to the national forefront, leading to the creation of new laws.

When the oil industry faced a downturn that led to layoffs and ARCO’s acquisition by BP, Lyndon transitioned to a role as HEB’s wine and beverage buyer in West Texas.

Despite these changes, Clair and Lyndon continued their philanthropic pursuits in West Texas. They even helped establish Gallery 1114, a progressive art gallery that pushed the boundaries of art and garnered respect within the community. They became patrons, assisting the artists in daily operations to keep the gallery thriving.

As the BP acquisition of ARCO signaled impending changes, the possibility of relocating to Idaho emerged. Clair found employment with a local natural gas company owned by BP, marking the beginning of another chapter in their journey. Idaho provided ample volunteer opportunities, leading them to engage with organizations such as the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, the Boise Art Museum, and the Saint Alphonsus Hospital’s Festival of Trees, which they remain involved with to this day. Meanwhile, Lyndon’s career evolved, encompassing event management for film and art festivals, museum exhibitions, travel events, state functions alongside the Governor, and collaborations with the Department of Health and Welfare.

In anticipation of retirement, they acquired a home in Las Vegas in the early 2000s and familiarized themselves with the city at The Center. There, they encountered the fiery redhead Arlene Cooper, igniting their involvement in the LGBTQ community in Las Vegas.

A fortuitous holiday in May 2007 led to Lyndon’s participation in Las Vegas PRIDE through a meeting at The Center. The need for a scriptwriter for the PRIDE Parade broadcast on Cox Cable arose during the meeting. Drawing on Lyndon’s background in media, they enthusiastically accepted the challenge, a commitment they continue to honor.

Clair and Lyndon have volunteered with various organizations throughout their time in the valley, including Las Vegas PRIDE, The Center, Golden Rainbow, HRC, and The Huntridge Family Clinic. They have donned multiple hats within these organizations over the years, and their dedication to community service remains unwavering.

Volunteering in the community holds profound rewards, a sentiment Clair and Lyndon ardently believe everyone should experience. They wholeheartedly advocate for participation in charitable organizations, recognizing volunteers’ invaluable contributions.

Las Vegas PRIDE Magazine - Issue 47

This article was originally published in Issue 47 of Las Vegas PRIDE Magazine, and can be read in its original format here.