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Houston LGBTQ Community Steps Up Following Hurricane Harvey

Houston LGBTQ Community Steps Up Following Hurricane Harvey

LGBT Houston Shines Following Hurricane Harvey: Looking At The True Acts Of Kindness From The Houston LGBTQ+ Community After One Of The Worst Hurricanes In American History


A Special Two Part Series


(HOUSTON) — Standing outside Houston’s LGBTQ community center, The Montrose Center, in the early afternoon of Thursday, August 24th, you could see Hurricane Harvey was approaching Houston. The sky was dark, and the winds had arrived. The rainfall would come only hours later and would last for several days without relent until Wednesday, August 30, 2017.

During and in the wake of the storm an innumerable amount of Houstonians lost their homes, vehicles, pets, possessions, while some even less fortunate lost their lives and those close to them. Our great city was devastated!

The attention of the entire nation turned to Texas. With that attention, came the influx of aid from all over. Louisiana’s Cajun Navy responded to need, shuttling down boats and volunteers to rescue people from the deadly flooding. According to the National Weather Service, areas of Houston received over 50” of rain.

“I wanted to feel like I could do something. We all felt powerless. We can’t do anything to stop a hurricane, but we can do something afterward.”– Michael Glazner

The American Red Cross set up the state’s largest shelter-in-place at Houston’s downtown George R. Brown convention center. Initially housing 10,000 evacuees, other facilities were opened including NRG Arena and the Toyota Center.

Hurricane Harvey’s devastation became infamous with celebrities such as Kevin Hart, Sandra Bullock, Chelsea Handler, and Ellen DeGeneres contributing large sums of money to relief efforts. Cristela Alonzo, comedian, and actress from Texas and an adamant LGBTQ+ ally went so far as to research shelter locations needing supplies and volunteers.

ABTHarvey-223x300 Houston LGBTQ Community Steps Up Following Hurricane HarveyAs an estimated 32,000 people were displaced from their homes in Harris County, Houston’s truest acts of heroism from local citizens began to shine. NRG, George R. Brown, Houston Food Bank, Pets Alive, to BARC and Gallery Furniture and many other facilities set up as shelters were inundated with volunteers.

As #HurricaneHarvey pounded Houston with rain, members of Houston’s LGBT pride organization, Pride Houston, Inc., went into action collecting contributions and left over supplies (from Houston’s June Pride Celebration) for delivery to the George R. Brown Convention Center for people in need. Items like bottled water, clothing were donated.

In the days since the storm social media has been overwhelmed with photos and posts from Houston’s LGBTQ+ community. Images of volunteers helping one another, and posts details someone’s random acts of kindness. There are so many.

“It seems like our community has either had to step up for themselves for so many years or by extension have gotten used to stepping up for other people and helping out,” former ‘Friends of Pride’ committee co-chair Michael Glazner said to About Magazine.

“I’m impressed, honored, and privileged to be a part of this community, ”  Glazner said. Glazner was one of many Pride Houston, Inc. volunteers that assisted during Hurricane Harvey.

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Intersex Awareness Day 2017

Intersex Awareness Day 2017
A graphic created by Anthony Ramirez for Intersex Awareness Day 2017.

Everything you need to know about what it means to be intersex on Intersex Awareness Day

(HOUSTON) — For many in the LGBTQ community, there’s a tendency to forget that the spectrum doesn’t stop at the Q. In fact, the acronym often includes a + at the end, to maintain inclusivity of all the people who aren’t abbreviated in the acronym. However it is seldom remembered that LGBTQ+ is actually LGBTQIA: lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, and asexual.

Many of these terms have been imbedded into our memory by now. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual are the most simple to understand for people outside the community, with trans seeming new to straight, cis-gender people (it’s not new, by the way). Asexuality could be perceived as simple explain to anyone who has no grasp on the subject. But when the word ‘intersex’ is thrown around, most people (including many in the LGBTQIA community) don’t have a clear understanding of what being intersex means.

Today, October 26th is National Intersex Awareness Day. The date marks fourteen years since the Intersex Society of North America (which ceased operations last year in 2016) first commemorated of the event back in 2003. The significance of October 26th, however, comes from that very date back in 1996 when the first public demonstration of intersex awareness was made in Boston by the ISNA. Despite the dissolving of the ISNA, October 26th (as well as National Intersex Day of Solidarity on November 8th) are currently maintained and promoted by the the Intersex Day Project, headed by Morgan Carpenter and Laura Inter since 2015.

Still, the question remains for many people within and outside of the community: what exactly is it to be intersex? Many people (wrongly) associate being intersex with being trans. This is not the case. In fact, it’s completely different altogether. So, to help spread awareness and clear up these misconceptions about being intersex on Intersex Awareness Day, I’ve compiled a list of facts about being intersex that will hopefully serve to create a better understanding of the subject.

  1. What exactly does intersex mean?

The trouble with that question is that being intersex has several aspects. In fact, the term is an umbrella for many variations of similar body types. According to IntersexDay.org, “Intersex people are born with sex characteristics that don’t meet medical and social norms for female or male bodies.” This can many any number of things, with innumerable variations of genitals and reproductive organs that don’t correlate to binary standards.

  1. Is being intersex the same as being a hermaphrodite?

No. For years, hermaphrodite was used synonymously with intersex. This lasted until the mid-20th century, but modern medicine has since begun to segregate the two from one another. By definition, a hermaphrodite is a living organism with both male and female reproductive organs. However due the complexity and presentation of intersex genitalia, including the varieties in which the reproductive organs present, the two have become medically disassociated with one another.

  1. How common is intersexuality?

According to the website for for the Intersex Society of North America, calculating these numbers can be tricky and often controversial. To let them better explain, we have provided a link to their FAQ page where the topic can be summed up in more detail, which can be found here

  1. What happens when intersex is identified at birth?

When identified at birth, many parents make the decision to take medical action to assign their child one binary gender. However, due to the the medical complexities behind intersexuality, a child who is assigned a binary gender at birth may not grow up to identify with the gender they were assigned. Intersex pertains not only to the presentation of the person’s genitalia, but also to the hormones the body produces and the functions of the body—which often are neither male nor female, but instead sometimes somewhere in between. One intersex person—who identifies as female—said in an interview with Cosmo that while she identifies with female and presents with fully-functional female reproductive organs, her body does not produce natural estrogen. This is just one of many ways that intersex can present itself in the human body.

  1. How do intersex people identify in terms of sexual orientation?

Just like with all other people, gender and sexuality are mutually exclusive of one another and are fluid. Intersex people are just people! They’re sexually active and enjoy dating just like all other people. Just like all the other important members of the LGBTQIA spectrum, it’s important to recognize that no matter with which gender or orientation intersex people identify, they were born who they are.

It’s time for people on and off the LGBTQIA spectrum to start being more cognizant of intersex people and to be more inclusive of them. A great starting point is with Intersex Awareness Day, and Intersex Day of Solidarity on November 8th. Ignorance on the matter only leads to exclusivity, and just like all other people—straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, trans, cis, and asexual—intersex people should be recognized and celebrated.

After all, they’re only human. They just want to be treated as such and seen by the rest of the world.

So, today, celebrate an intersex person in your life. If you don’t know anyone who is intersex, celebrate the entire intersex community. Show your support and lift them up. Explain to someone who doesn’t know what it means to be intersex. Spread awareness so that intersex people don’t continue to be swept under the rug.

For more information on intersex awareness, visit IntersexDayProject.org or ISNA.org.

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