This Free Life hosted an event at The Round-Up Dancehall & Saloon in Dallas with a ‘Strut’ contest hosted by Justin Johnson won by Kimberly Moore.
(DALLAS) – This Free Life is an organization focused on 18-26 year olds living in the LGBTQ+ community that want to live a tobacco-free lifestyle. This past week I had the pleasure of attending one of their events at The Round-Up Dancehall & Saloon in Dallas, TX.
As I parked my car and began walking towards the front of the venue, I noticed a line halfway down the sidewalk and that’s when I knew I was in for an exciting night. It was the first time that The Round-Up had done anything 18+ and the building was packed. This allowed This Free Life to target a wider scope of individuals rather than the 21+ crowd they were used to hosting. This display showed the community just how supportive The Round-Up is of this initiative and how influential the This Free Life movement has become. This Free Life creates a safe space for young people to come out and not feel obligated to start smoking or continue smoking in order to be social. Especially those from 18 to 21 who are new to the community and use smoking as a tool to meet new people.
About Magazine had the pleasure of talking with a few patrons throughout the night; and all of them said they would definitely be back for future events. They also added that out of all of the events they had been to lately at LGBTQ bars and clubs, this was one of the best because it was targeted toward a great cause and because they still had so much fun. The evening eventually led into a “Strut Contest” hosted by Justin Johnson! Contestants have their best “struts” and then the audience voted for their favorite. The winner, Kimberly Moore, walked away with a sickening $250. The audience was so invested and enjoyed everything from the free swag, open bar, educational value and entertaining competition. About Magazine looks forward to attending many more events hosted by This Free Life and maybe even “strutting” into a collaboration of our own.
The country music world is getting to know her better and better each day, and recently, so has the LGBTQ community. Her name is Cam and she’s here to help queer people and make good music.
(DALLAS) – While visiting the American Airlines Center last month in Dallas to catch Sam Smith’s The Thrill of It All tour, About Magazine got the chance to catch up with country music star Cam. The young country sensation opened up for Smith on his tour and recently penned an open letter to the LGBTQ community in which she told us all she would always have our backs. And while that might seem like a strange thing for a straight country star to do, Cam is more than just a straight country star, as we came to find out. She’s also an educated student of psychology who left the field to pursue her dream of being a musician. And thank God she did. Where would country music be without her contributions to it, as well as to artists outside the genre, including Smith himself.
Just having wrapped her time with Smith, Cam has just released her new single “Road to Happiness” ahead of her second album on which it is featured and a tour of the same name beginning in September. Having just switched record labels from Sony imprint Artista Nashville to the Sony-owned RCA Records, Cam is keeping herself busy and she’s showing no signs of slowing down. About Magazine Dallas contributor Mallorie Hall sat down to talk to Cam while in Dallas.
Mallorie: Can you tell me a little bit about the tour and what’s it’s been like to play these packed venues?
Cam: It’s amazing. It’s like a musical theatre guy who designed the stage, so it’s very — you’ll see it. It’s a very intimate but also a very dramatic, grand thing. It’s really cool to be on a stage like that and be so personal. You know? And everyone seems like they’re here. I said it on stage and I really did mean it — everyone. I think because [Sam Smith is] so comfortable with who he is. He’s so genuine, like how he seems on stage is who he is and I resonate with that; and I think everybody does.
What do you think is the most different for you — just being yourself and being on stage?
Oh, like from my personality? Honestly, I think it’s just a forever dig to try and make sure that I know myself. And the more I do it offstage, the more real I can be onstage. […] You know when something catches you off guard and they’re like, “Hey how’s it going? Tell me about yourself!” and if you haven’t really figured yourself out, you’re gonna kind of say not the coolest thing in that moment. But that’s how it feels. Like … my difference offstage is more like figuring things out. You know what I’m saying? Like … whatever I’ve got, whatever truth I have.
So, you actually began your career as a songwriter composing for other artists. So, what has it been like at this stage of your career to take the mic on stage, having radio hits, versus writing songs for others?
Yeah, well, I actually started job-ness with being a psychology researcher. So I like looked at emotions and cultures and stuff like that. And then when I was like twenty-four I decided that I didn’t love it enough to put up with the downs. Every job has goods and bads; and I realized that the things that came with that, I couldn’t be in love with it. I was like, what should I do? And my professor was like, well, when you’re 80-years-old, picture yourself looking back. What would you regret? Missing out on music or missing out on psychology? Music, duh.
Plus don’t you feel like you can incorporate some of those messages into music? Just the positive ones?
Yeah. Oh my god. I think it’s that same search for truth. You know … like … what’s going on? Who am I? And why do we all do this? So I think that’s what songwriting is too, [but] more personal. When I first started […] I didn’t know any musicians. So the stereotype was like, Oh you can’t do this. […] And then statistically, like how could I actually be an artist? Then when I started doing that and I had a few random things like a producer was supposed to be in one room with someone and then couldn’t show up, so I’d get in the room. And then with Sam, another producer was there, and they were working on something and I got in. So it’s never like I was a really successful songwriter either. When I first got to Nashville I was like, Okay, if I want to do songwriting people will get publishing dues — which is basically like them giving you money up front and then they take a percent of your business. And as you can imagine, in the music business, for newbies, it’s horrible. It’s god awful. Thank god I was from California, and it’s so expensive to live there that I could just laugh at it. You’re fucking kidding me? I better just invest in myself. And you’ll all see when I’m worth it.
What was your first surreal moment, was it like, “Hey, I’m in a booth with Miley Cyrus?”
Probably. I would say like the record deal — which is not by any means the end of the ride. It’s actually really far in the beginning. That always feels like a legitimate thing. You can turn around to your parents and say, “I have this.” You can sit there on Thanksgiving and be like, “You have to respect me!”
You recently penned a letter to the LGBTQ community in which you showed your support for our community and said that we could always count on you. So what inspired that?
I think it’s the human thing to do. I think it’s a normal bar. I don’t think it’s spectacular. Like … it’s really kind of interesting in the country music community. I think it’s a normal thing. I don’t understand that it’s so sweet. People say, “Aw, thank you for saying that.” And I’m not even doing anything. I’m not even doing anything for you. That’s just saying, “Yeah, I’m not an asshole.” And I could be an asshole still … like look how I act! You know? So, for me, I think also I came from the San Francisco Bay Area and I think that our culture is a little bit different. Very special culture. But there’s still ups and downs. And with close friends of mine, when I hear experiences that people have to go through in different parts of this country, and in all parts of this country […] things like suicide rates — if you’re quiet, you’re condemning a lot of kids to living in a dark bubble. And they don’t always get out. So it’s just the least you can do. I feel like we need to get past just clapping and being like “Yay! You said it!” and start pushing the Okay. How are you educating yourself on what this really means and how we need to take care of each other?
You are obviously on tour with one of the most celebrated LGBTQ artists in the world, with whom you cowrote the song “Palace”, for his latest album. What’s the experience been like working together?
He’s incredible, we were actually just talking about this. He said at one point in his life, “I’m just such a proud gay man and I’m standing here on this stage.” And everyone’s just screaming [for him]. And how many times in history has that happened? Someone’s just stood on stage and said this is me and this is who I am. And you just get goosebumps … like everyone’s just so moved. I don’t know. Because we’re still in the stage of that being kind of new, we’re really lucky that he gets to do this and he just spreads so much acceptance purposefully during each show. So it’s amazing to be around. He’s just like … you know … how you think pop divas look sweet but then in the background they’re like bitching people out? Nope. His whole crew, everybody, just are genuinely hardworking, good people.
So both of you are so talented and outspoken and individualistic in your music. What’s the dynamic like from your set to Sam’s when performing?
You will see. I think it actually flows really well. There’s something very musical and vocally driven and like … almost musical theater-ish. Very storytelling. And it just sort of builds. It’s weird because I have to think about it. I can’t sit in the audience and watch. Because my set is so vocally driven, and then it goes into his, I think the theme is very clear and people will appreciate that.
Could you tell us a little bit about what you have planned following the tour?
I just put out “Road to Happiness” which is a new song. And this is like the lead up to my second album. So, basically, I’m going to go over to Europe, come back, and have a tour in a lot of the same places that I was just here with Sam for the fall. And then there are some songs that are going to start coming out.
If you could go back and give your younger self any piece of advice, what would it be?
No one knows what they’re doing. Stop looking for someone who knows what they’re doing. I still catch myself thinking that somebody older — some dude, some white dude –needs to tell me what to do. There’s definitely been people in my career that I have overly trusted thinking people are there to help you. But the people that are going to help you the most are going to say, “What’s your answer? Let me help you find your answer.” People who say “I know what you’re supposed to do. I know what you’re supposed to wear. I know what you’re supposed to look like,” they’re doing it for them. And when there are a lot of people who are younger, it’s just … this is how the world works.
You can get tickets to see Cam on her Road to Happiness tour here.
Now rounding off it’s 22nd year of queer film festivals, QFest will screen ‘1985’, it’s closing film, on Monday, July 30th, presented by Spectrum South.
(HOUSTON) – Houston’s premiere LGBTQ motion picture nonprofit, QFest, started screening films for the 22nd year in a row this past Thursday and will be closing up their annual film festival until next year on Monday, July 30th. The nonprofit cites their mission to be showcasing Houston’s LGBTQ community through cinema and related events not just during QFest, but throughout the year. But year-by-year, QFest has struggled to maintain the same numbers in their audiences that they have in years past. Drawing the newest generation of queer Houstonians into the festival has proven difficult. However, our other favorite queer Houston magazine, Spectrum South, has partnered up with QFest to help change that for the better. By co-hosting QFest’s Closing Night, Spectrum South and QFest are hopeful about introducing this incredible nonprofit to the attention of LGBTQ youngsters.
“We are so excited to partner with QFest Houston to present the Closing Night of their 2018 festival. This year marks QFest’s 22nd year and we are delighted to help bring this longstanding queer cultural staple to the next generation of LGBTQ Houstonians […] We also encourage everyone to stick around after the [movie] screening for a reception of free drinks, mixing and mingling with fellow queer film enthusiasts, and a DJ set by Bradley David Entertainment.”
A movie and free drinks? You can count us in.
Additionally, this year QFest is sponsored in-part by Bradley David Entertainment, the Catastrophic Theatre, the Houston Film Commission, Mystiq, Julie Mabry’s Pearl Bar Houston, Stages Repertory Theatre, the Orchard, and About Magazine’s own Morena Roas.
Yen Tan’s 1985 opened this year at SXSW in Austin, TX to outstanding reviews. IndieWire gave the film a B and concluded, “As such, “1985” has the distinct feel of being a fine piece of cinematic craftsmanship by two artists with a shared vision. It is a haunting elegy for a generation of gay men.” The Hollywood Reportersaid of the film, “Even when dealing with loaded themes such as stigmatization, bullying, death, denial and the shattering possibility of final farewells, the director’s gentle touch adds resonance.” Said SS‘s Smith:
“The evening’s film, Yen Tan’s ‘1985,’ is a powerful southern portrayal of the height of the AIDS crisis. For some folks, it will be a reminder of their lived experiences and, for others, it will serve as a wakeup call to the realities of what can happen when those in power oppress marginalized groups. Either way, its message is important and relevant to our current circumstances, and we look forward to sharing it with audiences.”
The festival’s awards ceremony begins promptly at 7:00 PM at Rice University’s Rice Cinema with the screening of Yen Tan’s 1985 beginning at 7:30 with a reception to follow at 9:00. For tickets to QFest, you can click here. You can also RSVP to the Facebook event here.
Houston’s hometown hero, Christina Edwards Wells, has advanced to the live shows at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre on America’s Got Talent
(HOUSTON) – She’s been keeping the secret for weeks — even when we interviewed her about it for our About Magazine Pride Edition — but now the rest of the world finally knows. Christina Edwards Wells, the 2016 Pride Houston Pride SuperStar and Montrose favorite, is progressing onto the live shows on NBC’s America’s Got Talent for season 13. Tonight’s episode, like her initial audition, was previously taped earlier this year. This is Wells’ second go at the program. She previously auditioned but did not progress. Christina is a well-known member and performer in Houston’s LGBTQ community.
Wells’ performance started off as a nail-biter, with judges noted that she was a bit off-key at the beginning of her song. Although she sounded fine to all of us, and apparently found her vocal footing within a few short bars. The judges commended Wells, who is a full-time registered nurse in Houston. Guest judge, comedian, and actor, Ken Jeong, telling Christina, “[…] my wife told me, ‘You’re no longer a doctor. You’re a comedian.’ You’re no longer a nurse, you’re a singer […] an artist.”
Just before the judges made their decision, Christina weepily told the camera that she never thought she would make it this far, and that she did not want it to end. Luckily, when the time came, Simon Cowell told Christina, “Today, I’m going to be honest with you […] this wasn’t better from the first audition. We had to make decisions based on who do we think could really do well in the live show.” After a brief and histrionic pause, Cowell continued, “And that’s why, Christina, we have decided to put you through to the live shows.” Christina immediately erupted in tears before saying, “I thought you were going to tell me no!” Mel B. jumped to her feet and rushed on stage to hug Wells.