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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.

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.

Racist Recording Lands F Bar Owner In Hot Seat

Racist Recording Lands F Bar Owner In Hot Seat

Audio Alleged To Be A Houston LGBT Club Owner Making Racist Comments About African American Community Floods Social Media

(Updated at 09:16 P.M.)

(HOUSTON) — A racist digital audio recording alleged to be an owner of a Houston LGBT club has flooded social media this afternoon. The recording posted to YouTube Friday evening is only seven seconds long. It captures a voice alleged to belong to Irwin Palchick, a LGBT nightclub owner in Montrose.

News of the recording was first reported by AshtonPWoods.com, a civil rights news blog that centers focus on the #BlackLivesMatter movement in Houston, Texas. Woods is the co-founder and lead organizer for BLM’s Houston chapter.

“N****” You can hear the male voice say. The audio rambles before the voice returns, “I said N**** before he hit me in the face.” There are no other voices heard on the recording. There are no indications where the recording was made or how old or new it is.

No official word from F Bar, or it’s owner relating to the audio. Palchick did take to social media denying the audio is of him. “Absolutely not me,” Palchick commented. “I embrace all,” a second comment said.

The release of the YouTube recording has been met with mixed reaction in the community.

“Everyone knows there are certain things NO one should EVER say. Anger shouldn’t make you say something so deeply rooted in racism,” a person wrote on the article. “It says a lot about someone who’s first choice of words would be such a word. This word shouldn’t flow out of someone’s mouth with ease. Racism is a choice.”

Another viewpoint came in the form of support. “I’ve been known Irwin Palchick for 30 year’s plus. Racist would never be a word I could use to describe him,” one supporter on Facebook said.

This scandal is just the latest in a series for the club. Once the #1 LGBT nightclub destination in Houston, F Bar announced last week it would be canceling their Tuesday and Wednesday night drag show. An announcement that some in the LGBT community took as a sign of ‘hard times.’


(Update) Nightclub owner Irwin Palchick admits the voice on the recording is in fact his voice, “But it was after I had been assaulted on or around Easter Sunday.” Palchick explains he was in his office with a small group of people, and the recording does not reflect the full conversation; was altered and taken out of context to make him appear racist.

 

Gay Man Transmits Zika Virus Sexually To His Partner

Gay Man Transmits Zika Virus Sexually To His Partner

CDC Reports First Zika Infection Between Gay Couple

The Centers For Disease Control confirmed a sexually transmitted case of the Zika virus was discovered in Dallas between two men. One man traveled to Venezuela, then came home and was intimate with his partner, according to the CDC.

It’s the first report of infection between a gay couple.

Zika is different from West Nile virus in that the mosquitos that carry Zika are day-biters, and everyone will need to be more vigilant now especially as we head into mosquito season.

Multiple cases of the Zika virus have  been reported in the DFW region. The insects that could carry the virus are here and, by May or June, many more are expected to be around. Local health officials are warning everyone to be vigilant and take preventative steps now.