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Queer Houston, We Have a Problem

endorse lupe valden jenifer rene pool

What the actual heck is the GLBT Political Caucus thinking?

(HOUSTON)—Over the weekend, the Houston GLBT Political Caucus announced its long-winded list of endorsements for the 2018 primary elections, which are now only one month away (March 6th, 2018). The list, which consists of 60 names—59 Democrats and 1 Republicanhosts some notable names, from Beto O’Rourke to Fran Watson and beyond. However, it also is missing a couple of not only recognizable, but very important names in two very important slots.

Jenifer Rene Pool for the Texas House of Representatives and Lupe Valdez for governor. Why do these names matter? Well, for one, Pool was the president of Houston’s GLBT Political Caucus from 2006 until 2008. And then there’s the fact that she was also the first trans person to ever win a primary election in Texas in 2016 (although, she was defeated in November). As for Valdez, well, she made history by being one of the first democrats elected to office in Dallas in 2004 after a long span of time, and by being the only Latina sheriff in the entire nation elected and serving in 2004. Now, as their political candidacies are just a month shy of votes that could disconcert the Texas political establishment, Houston’s GLBT Political Caucus has pulled a very Texas-fitting move by endorsing straight, white men rather than these two queer women.

A little more background on these two women:

Jenifer-Rene-Pool-1 Queer Houston, We Have a ProblemJenifer Rene Pool is more than just a trans womanshe’s a successful businesswoman and advocate who not only has been appointed to the Buildings and Standards Commission, the Police Advisory Commission, the Task Force on Buildings and Standards, the Special Task Force on Film in Houston, the Houston Police Advisory Committee, but has also served thoroughly and actively in the LGBTQIA community for decades and owns her own consulting firm. In 2016 (as aforementioned), Pool became the first trans person to ever win a primary election in the state of Texas, beating opponent Erik Hassan for the Harris County Commissioner’s Court, District 13 seat by a staggering margin. Pool pulled in 78.28% of the votes. Hassan, on the other hand, reeled in only 21.72%. In November, Pool lost the seat to Republican candidate Steve Radack, but by a much smaller margin than Hassan had lost to her in the primary. Radack won with approximately 58%, leaving pool with about 42%. Now, Pool is running for the Texas House of Representatives, heavily emphasizing the repair of infrastructure, implementing comprehensive flood protection, reforming education to a quality standard, and so much more.

TLMD_LUPE_VALDEZ-e1517945975587-300x229 Queer Houston, We Have a ProblemLupe Valdez has served as a captain in the US Army, and has also worked as a federal agent. She served as Sheriff of Dallas County from 2004 until just last year. Valdez’s work in the federal government involved investigating fraud in the country, as well a crime corps outside the country. As the sheriff, she spent a great deal of time reforming prisons that were understaffed and overpopulated. Her advocacy for inmates extended even further, however, seeking better care for prisoners suffering mental illness. As mentioned before, Valdez was one of a handful of LGBTQIA elected public servants serving over the course of her career as sheriff; and when she began in 2004, she was the only Latina in the entire country to hold the title of sheriff. Now, Valdez is running for governor. Valdez is running on higher minimum wages, equal pay, affordable college educations, affordable healthcare, more and better public transit options, and raising the standard of education.

Unarguably, these are two strong political candidates. Right? And they just so happen to identify as LGBTQIA. Still, Pool and Valdez aren’t the only two LGBTQIA candidates running for office. In fact, there are almost fifty queer people running in Texas alone. Certainly, they can’t all win. Still, that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be given the opportunity to win.

Jennifer-Rene-Pool-e1312640557522-225x300 Queer Houston, We Have a ProblemI’m a staunch believer that we shouldn’t elect queer people just because they’re queer. I wouldn’t be electing Caitlin Jenner just because she’s trans. She’s also a Republican who endorsed Donald Trump. Not quite my cup of tea. However, among those near-fifty candidates that we’re talking about, nearly all are running on the Democratic ticket and are talking about issues that matter to the LGBTQIA community. After all, when it comes down to it, we’re concerned about the same things that cis and straight people are. We just want to be safe and afforded the same opportunities. But more than anything, what the community needs right now and more than ever is representation. Rare is the occasion that any given person is going to agree with each and every political stance taken by any given politician; but even rarer—especially in the LGBTQIA community—is the opportunity to be represented by a majority of politicians. We’re a community of minorities that converges like a Venn Diagram with other minority groups. We’re made up of gay people, trans people, bisexual people, black people, Hispanic people, Jewish people, Asian people, disabled people, veterans, asexuals, the non-binary, and so many more. Unlike the representation we see in our government—especially so in our state’s government—we are more than just white, cisgender, straight, male faces. So, why is that so much of what we’re seeing? And more importantly, why are those the faces that the Houston GLBT Political Caucus is endorsing over queer trans women or queer women of color? 

Screen-Shot-2017-12-06-at-6.20.19-AM_1512562828089_11882921_ver1.0-300x225 Queer Houston, We Have a ProblemThough it was reported in 2017 that Congress is now composed of 19% nonwhite individuals, there are only seven people who identify as LGBTQIA currently serving—less than 2%. Worse still? Only one of those 7 is a nonwhite person. So, if we take this information into consideration, and if we bother to ask why in 2018 we’re still seeing a giant lack of representation in our national and state government systems, it is equally important to ask why the Houston GLBT Political Caucus is endorsing straight, cisgender, white men in place of a strong trans woman and a Latin lesbian. Both of these women have worked tirelessly over the course of their political careers to ensure safety for the LGBTQIA community and who want to bring their voices—our voices—to Austin to make effective change.

As someone told me lately, “If the Caucus ain’t gonna support you [queer people], who will?”

To hear the Caucus’s new and sitting president tell it, as reported to MyStatesman, “We absolutely, positively wanted to endorse Lupe, but she didn’t do as well as we would have liked in the interview.” But that doesn’t quite seem like a good enough excuse. When it comes down to politics, the public eye never leaves a politician, especially not in the current era of 24-hour news coverage. A politician’s reliability, their credibility, and their flat-out ability to do the job aren’t solely based on one interview. They’re based on what work the candidate in question has done to effect change in the community. And neither Pool nor Valdez has carried out a career lacking said efficacy. Moreover, their careers—possibly even somewhat stunted due to their LGBTQIA statuses—have not come without pressures that their candidates have never had to face. As women—one trans and one cis—and as members of this community, both of these ladies have jumped hurdles to assume and maintain the positions they’ve fought tirelessly for to protect the well-being of other people. And, let’s be honest, these are both women of a certain age. That’s not a jab at them—that’s a jab at the times in which they’ve had to be unafraid and unabashed in order to make the strides they’ve made to get to where they are. Their political lives have had to shatter more glass ceilings than many in politics can ever imagine having existed.

 

andrew-white-300x201 Queer Houston, We Have a Problem
Andrew White, who won the Caucus’s governor endorsement over Valdez

And, as a community of mixed voices—gay, bi, trans, non-binary, lesbian, black, Asian, Hispanic, and more—we need heroes that are comfortable being uncomfortable to stand up, sword and shield in hand, to say no to the assholes in Austin who seek to shove us back into the holes we’ve worked so hard to wiggle our way out of. No more bathroom bills. No more denying us spousal benefits for city employees. No more revoking our right to marry. No more refusal to change gender markers. We need leaders whose voices reflect the people who are underserved—and we are the underserved. I’m not sorry to say that I don’t need a straight, white, cisgender man making decisions for my big, fat, gay life, just like our trans brothers and sisters don’t need one making decisions for them, and just like our lesbian sisters don’t need them making decisions for them, and just like our non-binary siblings don’t need them making decisions for them. We all need a voice that sounds a bit more like ours—a perspective that has been shaped by adversity and experience.

adam-e1517946106222-300x297 Queer Houston, We Have a Problem
Adam Milasincic, who won the endorsement over Pool.

With that said, I’m not sure what the Houston GLBT Political Caucus was thinking when they made these decisions. No offense to Andrew White or Adam Milasincic, the men endorsed in place of Pool and Valdez. Their resumes are impressive, but they’ve also lived lives of white boy privilege. If we’re going to continue talking about draining the swamp and equality and reclaiming our time and nevertheless persisting, our community and the organizations and caucuses that self-proclaim to represent the politics of our best interests need to recognize that it’s time to stop endorsing straight, white, cisgender men in lieu of people who have walked down the roads we have. As someone told me lately, “If the Caucus ain’t gonna support you [queer people], who will?”

Houston GLBT Political Caucus, shame on you. Shame on you for not supporting our trans sister and our sister of color. Sure, they may seem like the underdogs right now. But isn’t that what all of us in this community are? The underdogs? Isn’t that what all of your sitting board members were at some point? But in 2018—a year into a presidency of pussy-grabbing, trans military-banning, and wall-building—you need to be setting the example that even the underdog deserves a chance to shine. You need to be elevating our people and putting them on a pedestal and telling not only these candidates, but the world, “Yes. You can do this. You are the best person to represent our community.” And you have failed in doing that here. As happy as I am that you have endorsed many candidates that I think are going to go out there and use their voices to do great things for us, I am so disappointed in you for discouraging two strong, fierce-as-fuck women when you had the chance to expose them to people who need to know they’re out there fighting for us.

Shame on you.

And queer Houstonians, yes, we have a problem. But we are the only people who have the power to fix that problem. So, on March 6th, get up, go out, and vote. Vote for the queer people on the ballot—no matter who has or has not endorsed them. Make your voices heard. Because the louder that we shout, the more of us that show up, the harder we fight back to be heard and seen and to live an equal and happy life, the more the world will change for the better.

Vote.

Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth breaks ground on expansion

Members of the Celebration Community Church Board of Directors join Rev. Carol A. West to turn the first shovelful of dirt to commence construction on a new community center in Fort Worth. (Photo courtesy of Celebration Community Church.)
Members of the Celebration Community Church Board of Directors join Rev. Carol A. West to turn the first shovelful of dirt to commence construction on a new community center in Fort Worth. (Photo courtesy of Celebration Community Church.)

Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth breaks ground on expansion

The largest nondenominational church catering to the LGBT community in Tarrant County broke ground on a new facility for the LGBT community yesterday (Sunday, Aug. 23).

Once completed, leaders with Celebration Community Church say the Rev. Carol A. West Community Center will create a safe and inclusive space for the LGBT community.

New features will include more meeting space, enhanced recreational facilities and community gardens and a columbarium where church members can be laid to rest.

The church’s board voted to name the new building in honor West, who celebrates her 17th anniversary at the church this month.

“Quite often Rev. West speaks to us about stepping out on groundless ground,” said Ron Hill, chair of the board of directors. “It’s appropriate for us to remember that message as we step out in faith to build a church facility that will accommodate not only our growing congregation, but also the increasing number of GLBT community groups that rely on Celebration for meeting space.”

The new addition will include a formal entry lobby on the northwest corner of the property that will lead visitors to two large meeting rooms that, when combined, will accommodate 400 people.

The new structure will be tied to the existing sanctuary via a covered walkway.

Fundraising for the facility has been underway for the past few years.

Construction is expected to be completed in spring 2016.

Gays, We Are In Trouble!

Chick-fil-A Rolls Out Delicious 'Family' Style Meal

Chick-fil-A Rolls Out Delicious ‘Family’ Style Meal With Mac And Cheese, Baked Bacon Beans!

(HOUSTON) The anti-LGBT Chick-fil-A has announced plans to introduce family-style meals that include two new delicious looking sides — mac and cheese and bacon baked beans — in three cities starting Monday. (Thankfully Houston is not one of them) Sadly, San Antonio, Texas is…

The new anti-LGBT meals start will start at $29.99 and include one entree, two sides, and eight mini rolls to serve four people. Chick-fil-A’s new meals are meant to draw more customers during dinner, according to Matt Abercrombie, Chick-fil-A’s menu development manager.

The anti-Family-style entree options will include 30 chicken nuggets, 12 chicken strips, or four chicken breasts either grilled or fried. (All which Us pro-LGBT love) The horrible, yet most likely amazing side options will include bacon baked beans, a fruit bowl, mac and cheese, a salad, or the superfood side (kale and broccolini with dried cherries, nuts, and a maple vinaigrette dressing).

Chick-fil-A-Rolls-Out-Delicious-Family-Style-Meal-300x225 Gays, We Are In Trouble!As if to let our mouth drool with dread, Chick-fil-A describes their beans as ‘kettle-cooked and slightly sweet, flavored with bacon and brown sugar.’ Adding the mac and cheese is served with a blend of cheeses including cheddar, parmesan, and Romano. Ugh! The nerve!

Chick-fil-A will be testing these new options in North Carolina; go figure! Phoenix and San Antonio until November 18. The feedback will determine if the plan rolls out nationwide!

Rentboy.com CEO and employees arrested! Site Shut Down!

Rentboy.com About Magazine

Rentboy.com CEO and employees arrested! Site Shut Down!

Federal Takedown of Male Escort Site Rentboy.com

(DALLAS, TX) EDGE Media Group— It was reported Tuesday that federal agents raided the New York City officers of Rentboy.com, called the world’s largest male escort site. The website’s CEO and a number of other employees have been arrested. Several hours after the incident, more information has been revealed, including details from the Homeland Security complaint against RentBoy.com.

The site’s CEO, Jeffrey Hurant, and a handful of other employees, were charged with promoting prostitution at the Federal District Court in Brooklyn, New York Tuesday. One employee, who no longer works at RentBoy.com, was charged in South Dakota, Gay Star News reports.

“Rentboy.com is a male escort advertising site founded in 1997 which hosts thousands of paid advertisements,” a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice reads. “While the site has disclaimers stating that the advertisements are for companionship and not sexual services, Rentboy.com is designed primarily for advertising illegal prostitution.”

Kelly T. Currie, Acting U.S. Attorney General for the Eastern District of New York, echoed the DOJ’s comments.

“As alleged, Rentboy.com attempted to present a veneer of legality, when in fact this internet brothel made millions of dollars from the promotion of illegal prostitution,” she said.

The 22-page complaint, which is dated August 18 and can be read by clicking here, claims the website made $10 million in the last five years has thousands of advertisements.

“…the entire website is designed for the purpose of advertising prostitution,” the complaint reads. “Escort profiles generally detail the sexual acts each escort is willing to perform and the price. They also contain nude pictures and indications relating to penis size. In addition, profile pages have links to a separate website called DADDYSREVIEWS.COM that contains explicit reviews of the escorts written by previous customers.”

The complaint gets into some pretty specific and graphic detail about the site’s users, mentioning the different physical attributes escorts can list, and the sexual actives they perform. At one point in the document, Homeland Security Agent Susan Ruiz, who authored the complaint, writes about an escort named “Brandon,” who resides in Brooklyn, and advertises he is “hairy handsome versatile & uninhibited.” Brandon also notes he has a “sling and rimchair.”

“A rimchair is a seat resembling a raised toilet seat designed so that the anus is accessible while someone is sitting on the seat. I have also learned that ‘rimming’ refers to the touching of the tongue to the anus,” Ruiz wrote.

The complaint also details the defendants and their charges along with the New York State laws criminalizing prostitution and the promotion of prostitution. CNN reports, according to a press release from Currie, the accused have been charged with “conspiring to violate the Travel Act by promoting prostitution.”

Hurant’s lawyers said the case is a First Amendment issue, however.

“My client advertises for people who are willing to be escorts, to accompany people for their time and be paid,” the CEO’s lawyer said according to Gay Star News. “He’s upset and confused about how this legitimate business could become the subject of a Homeland Security investigation.”

After his arraignment Tuesday, Hurant, 50, spoke with reporters outside the court and said, “I don’t think that we do anything to promote prostitution … I think we do good things for good people, and we bring good people together.”

If found guilty Hurant and the RentBoy.com employees face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

RentBoy.com, cofounded by Hurant and Melanie Nolan in 1997, is a popular male escort site that charges subscribers a “minimum monthly fee of $59.95 and up to several hundred dollars to advertise sexual services,” according to Currie’s press release.