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Tony Carroll

Page history last edited by Brian Riedel 13 years, 4 months ago

Tony Carroll was interviewed in 2010 by Sarah Jovinelly, Sungwoo Park, and Avery Twitchell-Heyne.

Carroll agreed that the students could mount a Wikipedia entry about him. The original Wikipedia entry is provided below.

Informed consent, a video, and extended paper documentation for the interview are available at the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

Return to the SWGS 201 interviewee list.

Tony Carroll, LCSW, established a psychotherapy practice in the Montrose area of Houston in 1983, making it the oldest GLBT psychotherapy practice in the city. He served as the first openly gay president of the Texas Society for Clinical Social Work and conducted one of the first studies on the stability of gay couples, though his research was never published. He currently practices psychotherapy in Montrose in the same building as his husband, Bruce W. Smith, DDS.


Personal Life

Carroll was raised in a small town in Arkansas by a religious family and later studied music at Hendrix College, where he began to question his sexuality. He discovered the book The Sixth Man by Jess Stearn, which suggested to Carroll that communities of productive gay people actually existed, causing him to question the prevailing attitudes about homosexual people. During his junior year of undergraduate school, he was, he was engaged to a female vocalist in a trio for which he was the keyboardist. However, she broke off their engagement because she believed he was in love with the third member of the trio, a male vocalist, rather than her. This became Carroll’s first gay relationship, and it lasted eight years, despite tremendous opposition from the parents on both sides.[1]

In August 1968, Carroll took a choral department job in Houston and settled in Montrose, the official “gay” area of Houston even then. He later decided to abandon music in favor of pursuing a degree in social work, so he began to research long-term gay couples in graduate school at the University of Houston. He describes the motivating force behind this decision as deriving from his “20 years in the chair” himself: he had difficulties finding therapists willing to work with a gay patient and later, gay couples, so he decided to help the gay community through this venue. [1]

Carroll first met Dr. Bruce W. Smith, a Houston-area dentist, at a Log Cabin Republican Convention in 1995[1]. In 2003, they were married [2] in TorontoCanada. Carroll has said that although the marriage is not valid in the United States, he and his husband felt it was important to them to have their marriage recognized [3] , and that it was an “amazing” and “emotional” experience.[1] Carroll believes that religion’s stronghold on America’s politics and society is the main reason the US has not granted homosexuals the right to marry, while Canada and other countries have. He does believe, however, that the US will legalize gay marriage in the future, and that people are infinitely more accepting of gays now than they were. [1]

Carroll and Smith continually presented themselves as a publicly gay couple because they believe that it provides a role model for others in the gay community. They claim that their image as a professional gay couple is one of their greatest accomplishments to Houston’s gay community. [1] Their friends affectionately call them “Dental and Mental” [4] owing to the fact that their practices are located in the same building.[2]



Carroll is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LSCW), and has run his own practice since the 1980s. He is also a certified Imago relationship therapist, [5] although he does not practice the teachings of this theory.[1] Currently, his psychotherapy practice is devoted to adults in both individual and couples, so although he has particular interest in working with the GLBT individuals and couples, his practice also includes a large number of straight clients. He treats many people with concerns about anxietydepressionmood disturbancesintimacyrelationships, grief and loss, mid-life, sexualityself-esteem, growth, and couples’ issues.[4] He has been voted Best Mental Health Therapist for the years 2003-2009 by Houston’s OutSmart Magazine.[2] Carroll co-founded the Psychotherapy Resource Group, a training group for mental health professionals. He has also taught the medical staff of several hospitals and organizations in how to deal with emotional crises in the hospital. [5] He was the first openly gay president of Texas Society for Clinical Social Work [1] and a diplomat of the International Congress for the Advancement of Private Practice.[4]

He is active not only as a therapist but also for Houston’s GLBT community. He says that “most gay people know very early on that they are different and that they need to hide those differences. Remaining closeted and hiding the truth from the world becomes self defeating behavior, and invisibility makes it easier to perpetuate myths about gay people” [6] . Therefore, he works with the gay community to help them learn to accept themselves for who they are through his therapy sessions.[1]

In 1983, Carroll conducted a study on stability in gay relationships, one of the first in America at the time. AIDS became a topic of national concern in the early 1980s, creating social stigma against anyone who identified with the gay community.[7] By sending out an ad through the magazine This Week in Texas, he found forty homosexual couples from Houston who had been together a minimum of six years. Though he never published his research, it showed that homosexual relationships were just as stable as heterosexual relationships, despite the stereotype that homosexuals cannot have stable relationships. He also studied the integrated-ness of gay couples in the wider community, and found that these well-established couples tended to not interact with the inner-city bar scene, but instead referred to their heterosexual neighbors as their closest friends.


Political Viewpoints

Formerly a Log Cabin Republican,[6] a group of Republicans who believe in equal rights for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, [8] Carroll’s political views now lean more toward the left, considering his involvement in Democraticorganizations. He supports gay marriage and fought against the 2005 constitutional amendment that would have banned gay marriage in Texas.[3] He supported Bill White for Houston’s mayor of 2004-2010, and actively campaigned to helpAnnise Parker become Houston’s current mayor. [9] Carroll also was a supporter of John Edwards in the presidential campaign of 2008.[10]


GLBT Activism

Carroll, along with his husband Bruce Smith, has consistently contributed to political groups focused on improving the quality of life in the LGBT community. In 2008, Carroll and Smith donated $1,700 to ActBlue,[10]10 $500 to John Edwards’ presidential campaign,[10]10 and to the Center for AIDS: Think Cure![11] They were also members of the Silver Counsel (donating 10k to 25k annually) for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and Leadership Institute in 2008. [12] Carroll supported Bill White’s campaign for mayor in 2004-2010 and the campaign to elect Houston’s current lesbian mayor, Annise Parker.[9] Carroll and his husband Smith form a ROADcouple, and are active members in the ROADwomen organization.[6] They open their house to tired marchers from the Pride Parade annually,[2] and have focused their practices on helping the GLBT community with their dental and mental needs.



  1. a b c d e f g h i See interview on file at Rice University, April 2010.
  2. a b c d "Gayest and Greatest". OutSmart Magazine.
  3. a b Mack, Kristen (June 25, 2005). "Gay Voters Rally Against Marriage Amendment"Houston Chronicle (www.chron.com). Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  4. a b c Carroll, Tony. [www.houstontherapist.com "Understanding and Improving Love Relationships: Sections for Gay, Heterosexual, and Lesbian Singles and Couples"]. Retrieved February 23, 2010.
  5. a b Carroll, Tony. [www.houstontherapist.com "Houston Therapist: Consult an Expert."]. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
  6. a b c "Should the government decide whom we should marry?". The ROADwomen Register (River Oaks Area Democratic Women). August 15, 2005.
  7. ^ "AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)"Rediff. Retrieved April 7, 2010.
  8. ^ "About Log Cabin"Log Cabin Republicans. Retrieved February 24, 2010.
  9. a b Foster, Steven (December 2009). "Having Their Say"OutSmart Magazine. Retrieved February 23, 2010.
  10. a b c "Tony Bruce Smith - $2,200 in Political Contributions for 2008". Campaign Finance - Money, Political Finance, Campaign Contributions. Retrieved February 23, 2010.
  11. ^ [www.centerforaids.org "The 2008 Annual Report"]. Center for AIDS (Think Cure! The Center for AIDS Information and Advocacy.). Retrieved February 23, 2010.
  12. ^ "2008 Annual Report". Victory. Retrieved February 23, 2010.


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