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Why You’ll ‘Love, Simon’

Love, Simon tells the story of one teenager’s coming out and the struggle to find your identity as a queer person.

Let me tell you, I’m a crier—and not a pretty one, either. But when it comes to films, it takes something particularly special to cause me to audibly sob in a dark theater surrounded by strangers. In this case, that something was Love, Simon.

After unceremoniously missing the advance press screening weeks ago due to showing up at the wrong theater, the About Magazine staff was given the chance to see the film (thanks to gay actor Matt Bomer). The film, adapted from Becky Albertalli’s 2015 novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and directed by television writer/producer Greg Berlanti of Dawnson’s Creek fame, stars Nick Robinson as titular character Simon Spier, a high school senior who is so determined to hide his gayness that he goes to extraordinary lengths at the expense of those he loves. And if that story sounds familiar to any of you queer folks out there, that’s because it probably is.

Simon has a good life. He has parents who adore him (played by actors Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel) and a little sister he actually likes. His friends, Leah Burke (Katherine Langford of 13 Reasons Why acclaim), Abby Suso (Alexandra Shipp of X-Men), and Nick Eisner (fairly newcomer Jorge Lendeborge, Jr), have a Brat Pack-like ritual involving morning drives to school punctuated by classic rock, iced coffee, and stories about Nick’s dreams from the previous night. At school, he blends slightly into the foreground, neither exalted by his peers nor taunted by them). On the outside, one might presume that Simon Spier has a perfectly normal life. Only, he has one very big secret:

He’s a flaaaaaming gay.

After another closeted (read: masc) gay student (“Blue”) posts anonymously to the web that he’s keeping the same secret about himself that Simon is, Simon sends an email to the student’s alias Gmail account. And as the two begin to share their back-and-forths about all the good and all the bad that they have had to deal with since discovering their queerness, Simon finds himself falling in love with someone he’s not only never met, but whose identity is just as much a secret to Simon as Simon’s is to Blue. The forays that follow, however, are less lovely. When Simon’s schoolmate, Martin (Logan Miller) finds Simon’s open email account, he decides to blackmail Simon into helping him win over the affections of Abby, who until that point had only been a nuisance to her. In doing so, Simon must pry Abby and Nick away from one another, trick Leah into believing that Nick is in love with her, all while trying to discover the identity of his new love. However, when Martin is displeased with Simon’s efforts, he publicly outs Simon to the entire school. The domino effect to follow results in Simon losing his friends, coming out to his family, and Blue telling Simon the pressure is simply too much for them to continue their conversations.

However, the most compelling thing about this film is neither its story nor its characters. In fact, it’s what they present by telling story as characters—the feelings. I, as mentioned, found myself sobbing at what others may have thought were silly moments in the story. And why? Because I could relate to them.

True, most of us didn’t have the perfect, John Hughes upbringing bestowed upon Simon in the film. But when you scale back those elements and look at the intensity of the emotions the actors are conveying, it’s relatable. I mean, Christ, who doesn’t remember that panicked feeling of not knowing what the next day at school would bring as a pubescent teenager?

There’s a specific moment in the film when Simon decides to come out to Abby before anyone else in his life—a girl he’s known only a few short months. Later, when his best friend, Leah, asks why he came out to Abby instead of her, Simon explains that it’s because Leah has known Simon for so many years that he wasn’t ready for their entire dynamic to change, and that he wasn’t worried about that with Abby. This was reminiscent of my own coming out to a friend I’d known a handful of months who was also close to my oldest friend. The doubt of telling those closest to you certainly comes with a fear of rejection, but also with the fear of being unable to adapt to the new climate, whatever that may be. Then came the moment when his mother told Simon she’d been watching him for the last few years walking around as though he was scared to take a breath. In a tear-evoking moment on screen in the weeks following Simon’s outing, his mother tells him, “You get to exhale now, Simon. You get to be more you than you have been in a very long time.” The simplicity of the scene is what creates its beauty. For those of us who were lucky enough to have parents that accepted us after coming out, it may flood the emotions back that we felt in that moment. And for those of who weren’t so fortunate, it’s a reminder that there is still good in the world, and that there are people who still love and care.

Everything from Simon’s father struggling to find the right things to say down to the moment when Simon is publicly ridiculed by his peers in front of the entire school following his coming out is a reminder of some part of what binds us together as queer people. In different ways and at different times, we’ve all been there: loved, ridiculed, scared, afraid to breathe, and maybe once or twice, if we’re lucky, in love. Sure, most of us didn’t have the good fortune of finding our one-true-love at eighteen just weeks before graduation after a stellar performance in an amateur production of Cabaret, but that’s cinematic hyperbole for you. It tends to pander to the pathos.

While true, Love, Simon is a film that isn’t a stark mirror of all of our experiences, there are little nuggets of hurt and heart in it that we can all relate to in some way. From the fear of what will come upon returning to school after being outed, to the emptiness in your gut that comes from having your friends tell you they don’t want anything to do with you. Our stories are all so unique, as is Simon’s, but none of them are perfect.

The cast (particularly Robinson, Garner, and Shipp) is stellar in bringing this movie to life. Their performances are honest and uncanny. They lack pretense while also still mustering up some of the nostalgia these YA books-turned-teen flicks tend to bring about. But the film is also well-written with a reserve of snide one-liners that fans are sure to be quoting for weeks to come, (“You look like you were gangbanged by a TJ Maxx”) and is extraordinarily directed. The ability that Berlanti possesses to make this film feel like a Breakfast Club for a new generation is nothing short of remarkable. And true, Simon may be a little bit more masculine than many of us watching the film or even reading this review, but that’s just Simon. He’s a representation of one kind of a gay person. And in the film, as a handful of other gay people are introduced, we learn that there are more effeminate gay men, as well as those who fall somewhere in between.

Where the film does lack, however, is in its inability to cast more LGBTQ actors and actresses. Certainly, Robinson makes an amazing Simon and plays the part in a way others probably could not, but it does beg the question: were there no gay kids in Hollywood that we could have asked to do this? Might they have been able to evoke emotion more strongly than Robinson based on their experiences? It seems a tad bit antiinflammatory of the film’s point to preach on about coming out and gayness when most of the cast is made up a cis-gender, heterosexual actors and actresses. That, however, does not change the fact that the film does hit the high note it ambitiously aims for, then drones off with a soft and relaxing decrescendo that will bring fans of the movie back to watch it again-and-again for years to come.

As a whole, I think it’s safe to say that when it comes to Love, Simon, About Magazine is All About It.

Love, Simon is now playing at a theater near you.

Pride SuperStar’s Jasmine Branch in Car Accident

JassyB Pride SuperStar

Jasmine Branch, better known by her stage name as JassyB, is a Pride SuperStar contender who recently was involved in a car accident that left her with injuries to the knee.

33020532_363693860786365_1429291934161043456_n Pride SuperStar's Jasmine Branch in Car Accident(HOUSTON) – Every year for the last twelve years, Pride Houston, Inc. calls for singing talent from all over the city to perform in its annual Pride SuperStar singing competition. The American Idol-esque stage show is hosted every Thursday night at Rich’s Houston and is hosted by the insurmountably talented Wendy Taylor (who has competed in both Pride SuperStar and on American Idol). There, twelve performers take the stage with a microphone to match that week’s theme; and each week, contestants are eliminated. And while each contestant faces a unique set of challenges every single week, a recent automobile accident left one contestant in the hospital with injuries to her knee, which will inevitably result in a much more difficult performance at tonight’s show.

Jasmine Branch, or JassyB, is a 29-year-old Houston transplant from Louisiana who recently came to Houston with her partner ready to expand her musical following and make her dreams of being a performer come true. Only, after the aforementioned accident on Garth Rd. last week left her with some mobility issues, Jasmine will take on the challenge in a new way that none of the other performers will be forced to face.

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Photo by Eric Edward Schell

Jasmine’s medical bills and car troubles are on a constant rise; and without the approval of a doctor stating it’s safe from a medical stand point, Jasmine is unable to work. That being said, hostess, fellow musician, and newfound friend, Wendy Taylor, has taken on the task of starting a GoFundMe fundraiser to help Jasmine take care of what she needs to not only keep her in the competition, but to make sure she gets back on her feet — literally.

Jasmine sat down to talk to About Magazine.


About Magazine: Do you want to start by telling me a little about your life in music and also about what brought you to Houston from Louisiana?

Jasmine: Well, I’ve been singing since I could talk. I have done a few shows in Louisiana; I was on TV back home; I made it through a few rounds in American Idol. I consider myself to be a pop/R&B artist. My artist name is JassyB! And that’s also my fan page name. I have a few videos on Facebook that have hit 5+ million views. I have a YouTube and an Instagram. I recently moved to Houston where I need to build a platform and fan base. My partner is the reason I traveled out here. Also because Shreveport, Louisiana is a tiny city and I felt [that] in order to grow, I needed to move to a bigger city. So it was a plus that she lived here. I am currently working on a new single “Better Without You”.

So, now that you’re performing in Pride Superstar, what have you learned so far and what do you think you’ll take away at the end?

I have learned to step out of the box and get out of my comfort zone. I have also learned to not be afraid to be myself. I am challenging myself with new songs; and I’m hoping at the end I will have met wonderful people who will not only be great friends but friends that can help benefit my future. I will also be glad that I met a few other singers because  I love to surround myself with music.

Have you made some new friends through this competition?

Yes, a bunch of new friends.

So, tell me the importance of Pride to you? And how important do you think this sort of competition is to LGBTQ artists out there like yourself?

Pride is very important to me. I take it very seriously. People have died standing up for something they believe in; and that is Pride. I feel like it’s important to the LGBTQ+ community because it’s letting people know it’s okay to be who they wanna be and do what they wanna do. For instance, Ada Vox on American Idol. We are proud. We are here. We are coming out! So, I would say to any artist that is LGBTQ+: Do not be afraid, and be true to who you are!

Do you mind telling me a little about the injuries and events of the accident?

So we were getting this car from a financing company, and we have been having some problems with the car because it was pre-owned and the warranty was “as is.” We were having some problems with the brake lights and brakes. So, we were driving down Garth Rd., and a truck in front of us slammed on his breaks and we did the same and slid right into the back on the truck, completely totaling our car! I ended up at the hospital with knee pain, and they told me that my knee was fractured and dislocated. Being that I’m from Louisiana, I don’t have insurance in Texas yet, so all my expenses are gonna have to be out of pocket. Well, since I hurt my knee, I can’t work for a while being that my job is nothing but standing and walking around. I can’t stand or walk too much or lift anything heavier then 10 pounds. So, I’m also looking for a job where I can sit or do light standing.

If you could tell any other aspiring queer singers and musicians anything about going into this industry, what would that be?

Go in with an open heart and open mind. Be free and express yourself. Dress how you want. Be bold. Be beautiful. Be brave. Also, go in ready to work, because in this industry, you have to work to get where you wanna be.

MUSIC REVIEW: All Night by Tophe

Tophe All Night LGBTQ Gay Music Single

Tophe, the freshly-25-year-old, gay singer from Dallas, is jumping head-first into R&B with his first single, “All Night”.

(DALLAS) – The LGBTQIA community is historically known for its amazing music. Between Brendon Urie’s coming out as pansexual, to just the existence of the melodious marvel that is Sam Smith, to Superfruit, to Janelle Monáe, to Shea Diamond, and so many more in between them all, our community is at no shortage of inspiring, talented musicians. So, it should come as no surprise when another limitless talent pops up on the scene with a voice capable of sending listeners on a musical journey.

26904773_397327640719601_3064663708784830669_n-e1530905989443 MUSIC REVIEW: All Night by Tophe
Tophe

In this case, we’re talking about Tophe, the gay, 25-year-old, Dallas native singer/songwriter who released his very first single, “All Night”, early last month via SoundCloud. The song, which begins with a muffled conversation about happiness as the instrumentals play, is narrated from one lover to another as he describes a potential tryst between the two of them. The song is energized not only with romance and sexual energy, but a familiar longing reminiscent of a less melancholy “All I Ask” by Adele. It is written as if a love letter to some unknown, mystery man as the narrator implores that they be together. It’s an epitomized feeling that many people – LGBTQIA and otherwise – can relate to because its roots are in desire and passion. Tophe isn’t just singing about love, he is singing love.

But more impressive than the lyrical beauty is the magnificence of Tophe’s voice. With the chesty baritone usually reserved by the likes of John Legend (accompanied by the matching belt), an upper register like that of Sam Smith (and one that he isn’t afraid to show off), the slight rasp and gospel intonations of Adele and Amy Winehouse, and the runs and riffs like those of India Arie, Tophe’s pipes are branded with the R&B stamp. Whether he’s humming in his lower register, oooh-ing or ahhh-ing in his upper, or dragging out notes up-and-down the staff in the middle, his somehow pouty and iridescent voice will grab listeners’ attention and keep it from beginning to end.

Additionally, Tophe has also been recently featured in fellow Dallas musician Jonez-N’s recent single, “Summer Silhouette”, which dropped early in June. You can listen to it at the bottom of this article.

You can follow Tophe on social media here:

SoundCloud | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

Pride Edition: Al Farb

Al Farb Anthony Ramirez Wendy Taylor Pride Edition Country Radio LGBTQ

A Conversation with Al Farb – Houston’s favorite gay radio producer and host. Click play in the box below to hear the full conversation with Al Farb, Anthony Ramirez, and Wendy Taylor.

IMG_8131 Pride Edition: Al Farb
Al Farb with country music and TV star Reba McEntire

(DALLAS) – For years he’s easily been one of the most recognizable people in Houston’s LGBTQIA community, thanks in part to his time spent at the New 93Q as New Morning Q talk show producer and co-anchor. Starting off at the radio station at the ripe old age of 13, Farb got his very first on-air interview with none other than Donny Osmond, and his life, from that moment on, was forever changed. In the time since, he went back to school and worked in sports radio before eventually landing back at the place he first fell in love with radio, the New 93Q. But back in the Spring, Al Farb made his move to Dallas’s New Country 96.3 KSCS, where he’s taken over the roles as assistant program director, music director, and afternoon on-air host from 3PM to 7PM.

Still, there’s more to Farb than just what takes place behind his studio mic. Born to a well-known Houston family, Al grew up immersed in Houston’s boundless culture. And in discovering the wonders the city had to offer him, as well as those that radio did, Farb came out to joint Houston’s LGBTQIA community in his adulthood, where his fame only grew further. Going on to be a guest judge for Dessie’s Drag Race, working with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, hosting About Magazine’s FACE Awards, and meeting every country music star from Hunter Hayes to Reba McEntire to George Strait, Al, at the very young age of 31, has lived a full, well-rounded life.

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Kara Dion (left) and Al Farb (right) hosting the 2017 FACE Awards.

As mentioned above, Al’s life has taken him to Dallas — or North Woodlands, as Houstonians might refer to it — and he’s there to show country music fans and Dallas’s LGBTQIA community everything that he has to offer. In the SoundCloud interview above for About Magazine’s Pride Edition, Al sat down with his friends (former American Idol contestant and renowned musician) Wendy Taylor and (About Magazine editor-in-chief and Less Than Butterflies author) Anthony Ramirez discuss what his life has been like since the transition to Dallas and into his new job. But the conversation wasn’t limited to just that. In the interview, Al gives his thoughts on how LGBTQIA people fit into the country music world, his former faux-feud with Ramirez and About Magazine, whether or not politics play a part in the world of music, and, of course, Houston drag royalty and friend, Kara Dion. Below is a transcript of the conversation.

You can follow Al on social media here:

Facebook | Instagram | Snapchat: @AlOnKSCS


Transcript of the Conversation: 

Wendy Taylor: Oh, no. We’re being recorded.

Anthony Ramirez: Yeah.

Wendy Taylor: It’s official.

Al Farb: On the record.

AR: Everything that you say to me is on the record.

AF: Yeah, I learned that the hard way.

AR: What did I do to you?

AF: Your text messages [screenshots] that you post.

AR: Oh. That doesn’t count.

WT: So, if I’m co-interviewing, do I have to get off Facebook and pay attention?

AR: Yeah, you do.

AF: Yeah.

AR: So, Al Farb, I want you to project your voice — so — cause I want it to be —

[Al shifts nearer to the recorder]

AR: Okay — not — that’s too much.

WT: [Laughs]

AR: [To another diner] Don’t look at us. That bitch just gave me side-eye. Okay, well that’s the end of the interview. Thank you for talking with us.

WT: [Laughs].

AR: So, tell us about your new job.

AF: Well, if you — as you, uh, would’ve learned through the other interview, but it was never published.

AR: Well, see … you knew there was an issue with that. [Pause]. I deleted the recording on accident.

AF: Ah.

WT: On “accident”?

AR: No, it really way. Because I have so many of these in my phone that they start taking up space. And I didn’t name Al’s. It was just a date. And usually when I do that it’s like–

WT: You didn’t even give him a name?

AF: Wow.

WT: That’s shady.

AF: All right, I am the, uh, assistant program director, music director, and afternoon on-air host at New Country 96.3 KSCS. [Pause]. That’s my job.

image1-1 Pride Edition: Al Farb
Photo by Eric Edward Schell of Pride Portraits.

AR: Tell us about it.

AF: Well … that’s … what it is.

AR: Like the other day when I asked you, and you explained to me what you do —

AF: Yes, so.

AR: Because no one knows.

AF: No one knows?

AR: You’re just a disembodied voice — I mean people know — I mean, not here, but back there [in Houston] knew it was you. But, like, no one knows what else goes on other than the radio hosting.

AF: Yeah. Okay. So, we have a unique situation in Dallas where the company that I work for owns both of the big country stations here in town. So, my boss, Mac, is the program director for both country stations; and then I help him with everything behind the scenes on KSCS. There’s somebody like me on our other station, the Wolf, um [clears throat], so we —

WT: Sorry. His name is the Wolf?

AF: No! The station is called the Wolf.

WT: [Laughs] Okay.

AF: The station is the Wolf.

AR: [Sarcastically] Oh, because our radio DJs have much better names … Special K.

WT: Right.

AF: Anyway, so part of my music director responsibility is starting, you know, having relationships and, um, keeping up to date with all of our label reps in Nashville through all of the various record labels, and finding out what they’re doing, what their artists are doing. If we need to do an event with them, I’ll set that up with the rep, who will then go to their management and so on and so forth. And then we’ll look at all of our research that is done through all of our, um — with all of our music that we play, our current songs, and then make decisions on where to move songs to schedule them for the rest of the week. And then I schedule all of the songs every day.

WT: So … you make playlists every day.

AF: I make playlists every day, basically. Yeah.

WT: [Laughs].

AF: And then … yeah. I mean, it’s true. I mean we have a —

WT: It’s cool, though.

IMG_8868 Pride Edition: Al Farb
Al Farb and Jujubee

AF: We schedule music a lot differently than you might on your personal iPod or whatever, because we’re playing for massive amounts of people. But, yeah. It is cool to make those decisions and have that — it’s like every day I start with a blank canvas, and you know, you’re painting your way through the day. It’s cool. And then, at the end of the day, I’ll go into the studio and host the afternoon drive home show on KSCS from 3 to 7. And, um, while people are stuck in traffic, they’re listening to the music that I program and me talk about it. It’s cool.

WT: Uh-huh. How do we listen to you in Houston?

AF: You can listen to us several ways. You can listen to us on our website, on iHeartRadio, and we have our own app, as well.

WT: Cool.

AR: There ya’ go.

WT: How do you feel about the statement my friend Cedric Josey made, saying that “country music is basically just farm emo.”

AF: [Laughs].

WT: [Laughs]

AR: [Completely unfazed by anything].

AF: “Farm emo”?

AR: Yes, do tell.

AF: Well, historically, country music has a bad rep. But if you, um, really dive in and listen to the songs and listen to the music, that is not the case, at all. Of course there are some very honky-tonk sounding songs that, uh, you know, that are a part of the stereotype. But just like all genres and everything, there are those that stand out. And there’s actually a lot of really good song that have a really positive message.

AR: So, what’s it like now that you’re not doing a morning talk show vs. what you are doing now?

AF: Yeah, that was probably one of the hardest transitions. Well, as far as — it’s easy not to wake up so early. But, on the air, you know, we only have a certain amount of time to talk. And where I was used to having longer than I have now to talk, that was one of my biggest challenges, you know, transitioning from having longer talk breaks to just really quick information. So, editing the way that I talk, you know word economy and stuff like that, is — was difficult. And it was harder than I thought it was going to be to transition from waking up early and then having normal hours. It’s taken me — you know, I think I’m finally over it now, but your body and your whole everything just shifts in that direction. So, it’s harder than you might think.

AR: Well, you get to sleep later now, too. Right?

AF: Well, that was the thing is that I wasn’t sleeping.

WT: Well, welcome to the normal world.

AR: [To Wendy] What the fuck do you know about it?

AF: You’re not in the normal world.

AR: You slept ‘til 5 on Sunday.

WT: [Through a mouthful of chips] I didn’t say I was in the, um — [unintelligible] — but I was up at 6 o’clock this morning, because I went to bed at 9 PM.

AR: I was probably up at 6 o’clock this morning.

WT: But you hadn’t gone to bed yet — well … you hadn’t gone to sleep yet.

AR: Anyway, this isn’t about me. [Pause] For once.

AF: For once.

AR: So, what are the things you miss most about Houston? Don’t say Kara Dion. She’s trash.

AF: Uh!

AR: I’m just kidding. [To Kara who is not there] Happy belated birthday!

AF: [Chuckles].

WT: [Laughs].

AR: [Laughs].

AF: Um … I miss … a lot of things. I miss the culture of Houston. Houston’s my hometown. I always feel — I will always feel a, um, a sense of pride for — and not the Pride that we’re celebrating this month — a sense of pride for belonging and, you know, for Houston. It’s my hometown. There’s so much heritage that not only I have there, but my family for many years. So, I miss that. I miss the food. I miss all of my friends and family.

WT: I love how friends and family came after food.

AF: Yeah.

WT: That’s appropriate.

AR: Let’s not act like we wouldn’t say it the same way.

AF: And the sense of community that Houston has. I’m still a couple months into living here in Dallas, so I don’t want to speak — I can’t speak on the Dallas community. But, you know, Houston has a great LGBT community, and I felt very much a part of that. And I miss being in it, you know, on a day-to-day basis.

AR: What’s been your experience so far with LGBTQIA community.

IMG_8225 Pride Edition: Al Farb
Al Farb and Lance Bass

AF: Um, I’ve had very little experience because I’ve been really focusing on my job and, you know, there’s a lot of stuff we have on the weekends — concerts and what not. There’s a lot more concerts here in Dallas because the rodeo takes up a lot of that in Houston. Whereas it’s all kind of, we do it all in a month, they spread it out all over the year. So, um, for me it’s getting to know the city and driving around the Metroplex and getting to know all that stuff. So, I haven’t really had that much personal free time to go and explore the bars and the scene here. But I can definitely tell that it’s very different.

WT: Yeah. Do they have something here like we have in Houston? Like the Montrose Center?

AF: Yes. It’s what y’all [About Magazine] donated to — the Resource Center.

AR: So, let’s just divert to a little bit more of a lighthearted topic. You and I have had a feud for a very long time.

AF: Oh, geez.

WT: For a very long time.

AR: It feels like it. It’s been since like —

AF: January.

AR: February.

WT: Months.

AR: January. Whatever. Do you want to tell everyone … how you scorned me?

WT: [Laughs]

AF: How I what?

AR: How you scorned me. Done me wrong.

AF: I don’t even remember.

AR: [Slams his hands down on the table] I really thought this could be over as of today.

WT: [Laughs]

AF: So, while I was hosting the, um, season — what was it? — 12 finale —

AR: No one cares about that part.

AF: — of Dessie’s Drag Race.

AR: The drag queens are out of control in Houston right now. [Laughs]

AF: I fights.

WT: I fights.

AR: I’m sorry —

WT: “I only got eight nails …”

AF: It’s pretty funny.

WT: It’s really funny.

AF: Anyway, so while I was co-hosting, or judging, or whatever I was doing — I was a guest celebrity judge for the season 12 finale of Dessie’s Drag Race at Rich’s, every Monday night.

WT: [Laughs at the word ‘celebrity’]

AR: I’m not even the one who made a joke about you not being famous, I just want to say.

IMG_8384 Pride Edition: Al Farb
Al Farb and George Strait

WT: I just think — nevermind. [Pause] Go ahead.

AF: I didn’t say that. They promoted it.

AR: Well … you quoted it … so …

WT: Yeah. You did.

AR: No, you’re very famous.

AF: [Gives Anthony a ‘go-to-hell’ look].

AR: You are! I’m not making fun of you! Jesus. [Pause] So, you did what now?

AF: So, I was doing like I usually do … I judge. And, um —

AR: #iJudge

AF: #iJudge #iFights

AR: #iJudges

AF: #iFights

WT: [Laughs]

AF: Um … so, at the end of the evening, I was making a beeline to the patio bar, because that’s where my friends were, because they had texted me that that is where they were. And, apparently, for the very first time in history, somebody didn’t recognize Anthony Ramirez. Not that — not that he’s a celebrity or a well-known person. It’s just that he’s just … quite hard to miss.

AR: He means … fat.

AF: I didn’t say that.

AR: But what he really means is slutty.

AF: So, I, um, mistakenly did not see him.

AR: And thank you, by the way.

AF: And therefore Anthony took great offense.

AR: I did. I stormed out of Rich’s and went to Guava and hung out with Morena [Roas]. And I said, “This motherfucker …”

AF: ‘Cause at that point, I’d only really met you in person one other time.

AR: Yeah. And it was circumstantial because —

AF: I thought you were going to make a circumcision joke.

AR: … no. [Pause] So, I feel like we’ve come to a nice place. Not … here [the restaurant] … like literally … but in our spiritual journey —

AF: [Laughs]

AR: — where we can put the feud behind.

WT: Well … I am … very disappointed. [Laughs]

AR: [Laughs]

WT: This has been my favorite thing of the whole year.

AF: I think there will always be a feud, but unofficially.

AR: Mostly for readership.

AF : [Laughs] “Mostly for readership.”

AR: [To Wendy] Well, you could have a feud with someone.

WT: No, it’s more fun to watch y’all do it.

IMG_1174 Pride Edition: Al Farb
Al Farb (left) and Brenda Rich (right).

AF: I think you should have a feud with Kara Dion.

WT: [Unintelligible through all the chips in her mouth]

AR: I think you should have a feud with Brenda Rich.

WT: Who?

AF: There you go. And so it begins.

AR: Have you had any feuds in Dallas?

AF: [No response]

AR: Okay, so seriously. You have said before that you were very open with your sexuality at work when you were with 93Q. It was totally cool. Totally chill. Have you gotten there here yet?

AF: Oh, yeah.

IMG_7387 Pride Edition: Al Farb
Al Farb and Chad Michaels

AR: I mean, I feel like if they didn’t know you were gay before, your excitement for Shania Twain [in concert] gave it away.

AF: Oh, yeah. And Hunter Hayes. He’s playing the State Fair in September.

WT: Isn’t he like 12?

AF: No, he’s like 24. He’s older than Anthony.

WT: That’s 12 times 2.

AF: Which is older than Anthony. [Pause] Although —

AR: I’m 24!

AF: But Anthony wasn’t blessed with his looks. Some sort of Otter-Mexican combo.

WT: An ot-ter?

AR: That’s so — otters are so cute! I would love [to be] a Mexican otter

[Anthony thinks Al is talking about otters as in the animal, and not otters as in the tribe of gay men … he finds both very cute and flattering]

AF: You are a Mexican Otter.

AR: Thank you! [Pause] So, I had a point to asking that question. Goddamnit.

AF: Very open with sexuality …

AR: Right — um — so, how are you going to — okay, I feel like at some point, you are going to have to kind of get yourself out in this community.

AF: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I’m already — I’m very excited to know that About [Magazine] is coming up here to Dallas and is going to start getting entrenched in the community. So, I feel like I can get on the ground floor with the magazine to help host events or do whatever I can to promote the events with not only myself, but with the radio station that I work for to get behind and be supportive.

AR: Oh, how do you feel about representation of LGBTQIA people in the country music scene?

AF: Oh, there’s a lot of representation. One of the biggest writers of this time or generation or whatever you want to call it, Shane McAnally, is openly gay. And he’s one of the most successful writers of this current time, whatever you wanna call it. And his Dad is Mac McAnally, who is also a writer. He’s been in the business a long time. He’s worked with Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, and all of those artists. And he’s [Shane] very well-accepted. A colleague of mine now in Houston is the program director for the Bull, which is a country station there. And he has been out for a very long time. He’s married. He and his husband Kevin are very well accepted throughout the industry. And he’s a big reason that I was — that I felt comfortable to come out, once I learned that he was accepted and that everybody was fine with him. That helped me along the way to come out fully and know that I would be accepted. You know, there are artists, Ty Herndon, Billy Gilman, who have come out. Honestly, I don’t think it has anything to do with their success or not. There are a lot of pro-LGBT country artists. Cam, who just announced that she’s going to open for Sam Smith on her tour. And she wore a — I think it was a Pride t-shirt at her show in Houston.

AR: Well, you have artists like Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, who have all spoken out about this — Jennifer Nettles.

WT: Carrie Underwood.

34445071_10208842689503997_2712618472759623680_o Pride Edition: Al Farb
Anthony and Al at the Shania Twain concert in Dallas.

AR: They’ve all spoken out in favor [of LGBTQIA rights]. I think historically, though, country music had associations with right-sided politics. But, now I think —

AF: Everybody loves country music. I know that’s a broad, general music. I know everybody doesn’t love country music. It’s a genre of choice. But what I mean by everybody is people of every walk of life. It doesn’t matter — just because you listen to country music doesn’t mean you are one way politically or not, or one way with sexual orientation or not. It isn’t true. I can give you a handful of LGBT people. I can give you a handful of people who are liberal, who are everything that aren’t what the stereotype is who will spend a lot of money at a country concert to sit front row and do all the VIP stuff. And it’s great. I mean … that’s what music is. It brings people together. It should not be identified as a political party, a sexual orientation, or anything. At the Shania Twain concert, which you attended with me here in Dallas —

AR: I do not recall.

AF: Well, that’s your fault. And I attended the one in Houston. And there were a ton of —

AR: Homos.

AF: — of LGBTQIA+ people. There were a ton of African-Americans, a ton of Hispanics — just people. It’s a melting pot. It’s how all concerts are, and how all musical gatherings should be.

AR: Okay, I want to expound upon that a bit, actually. Because I do agree — and this isn’t about me — but I think that music should have a place where it is separate of all of those things. But now, especially politically and the way that climate is — I think that it’s more important now than ever for people who are in a position to have a voice and who have a soapbox to preach off of to use it combat hatefulness and discrimination. I think it is important for artists who have come out in support of gay rights. So … yes … it doesn’t need to have a direct correlation to a political party.

AF: Correct.

AR: But isn’t it important that people are using their platform to do the right thing?

AF: I do — I mean, I really don’t want to get into politics. But I — on that level — I do think that unless you have — it just gets really dirty when you get into politics. And musicians who have historically, one way or the other … it has not gone well for them. Because you’re always going to be wrong to somebody. So, obviously gay rights is a human right. That goes without saying. And everyone should be in support of that. But when you get behind a political party or a political candidate, it is really, really hard to come out on the right side of that, because you’re never going to be right. And, as a musician — and me, and I’m speaking as an entertainer, someone who is in that similar field, presenting those songs — I don’t care to have a public political voice. It’s not my job. I don’t want to get involved with that. Because, like I said, you’re going to come out on the wrong side of it. And, for me, it would affect ratings. For them, it would affect their music sales or concert ticket sales.

WT: Yeah.

[Side note that Wendy Taylor, a professional singer, is the loudest and most die-hard liberal in the entire world and who lets everyone she comes into contact with know it]

AF: Because, as I said earlier, music is for all. And with that, you should entertain all, whoever they support politically.

AR: As much as I want to go deeper into that, I’m not going to. But I feel like we should circle back to this conversation another day. So, I’m gonna jump to this: You are contracted for a couple of years with this station. I know that it’s kind of early to tell, because you did just get here, but do you feel like you’ll be calling Dallas your home for a while?

AF: I hope so.

AR: You hear that, Houston? He don’t wanna come back.

AlKara Pride Edition: Al Farb
Al Farb and Kara Dion

AF: No, that’s not what I said. The station, as I arrived, was already rising up in the ranks. We are overall doing very well ratings-wise. So, I hope to be an actual contributor to that success. I don’t feel that I am yet, because I just got here. But I hope that that success will continue and that I will be able to grow myself and with the company. And, you know, as I said when I interviewed with for this position — and I brought this up last time we interviewed, but you deleted that interview —

AR: It was an accident.

WT: [Laughs]

AF: I’d said that if there were any job that I was going to be looking at to leave here, it’d be to Houston. You know, Houston’s my home and I do hope to return one day. But, I don’t know if my job here will be done in two years. So, to answer your question, I hope to stay here for as long as they’ll have me.

AR: I guess my next question is — and this is one that a lot of people wanted me to ask you — where is the Farb Family Fortune buried?

AF: [Silence]

AR: No? No comment? [Pause] So, do you have any events coming up? Are there any concerts you’re going to that you want to plug? — oh, by the way! I want you to get me into Sam Smith.

AF: [Sighs]

AR: Oh! Do you have a message for Kara Dion? She heard that she was replaced.

AF & WT: Mess!”

AF: She is not replaced. She will never be replaced.

AR: Snapchat said otherwise. She saw it with her own two eyes.

WT: Yeah, I saw it, too. I saw it, too.

AR: Okay, well, it’s been wonderful, Al. It’s been so great for you to let us have the honor of watching you put food in your bobblehead.

AF: [Laughs] Wendy is my favorite person at the table.

WT: That’s right.

AR: He is lying. He is in love with me.

WT: Hey, Anthony.

AR: Yeah?

WT: Who’s your favorite person at the table?

AR: … Me. Always me.

WT: [Laughs hysterically]

AF: The correct answer to that is Jesus. Because he is always watching us and he is always with you.

AR: “I can do all things –”

AF: “… through Christ –”

AR: “–through Vodka, who strengthens me.” [Pause] That’s my inspirational quote of the day.

AF: And on that note, I need the check.

AR: And on that note, we want to thank you again [for buying lunch]. And thank you, Wendy Taylor, for joining us.

WT: Oh, like I had a choice.

AR: You did. You didn’t have to come with me.

WT: I did.

AR: Oh, she wanted to meet Lupe [Valdez]. That’s going to be a much better interview.

35167991_10208869844582857_6791026920625537024_o Pride Edition: Al Farb
Anthony Ramirez, Al Farb, and Wendy Taylor all looking like trash at this lunch.