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Op-Ed: Beacon of Hope for Trans Community

(Houston) — Identity, or gender, sexual orientation or the connection to one’s own race or ethnicity — plays a pivotal role in all our lives today. It is especially crucial to those who have earned the right to express it.

The right to one’s own identity is something still being fought for in many marginalized communities, and when something so precious as one’s identity is reduced to something solely desired for sexual pleasure, it can be painful. This is what can happen when a transgender person encounters a “chaser” — someone who has a “fetish” for transgender bodies.

Those who fetishize transgender bodies are participating in a culture of transphobia that deems our bodies as important solely when they’re sexualized.

The act of “chasing” is, indeed, rooted in a cultural assumption that the only reason someone would want to be with a trans person is that of a sexual fetish. When cisgender male celebrities like rapper Tyga and NFL player Hank Baskett have been “caught” with trans people, it’s been treated as a “scandal,” with the media and public assuming it must be because they have a “thing” for trans bodies.

When Houston native, Valentina Mia, a 24-year-old graduate of the University of Houston finally came to terms with being trans, she set out to show that being trans was not a fetish or something to be feared and belittled. Coming from a family of mixed political views, Valentina says she has received nothing but love from her family and friends. This is not always the case for many transgender people.

Not only does Valentina have a BS in Economics with a Mathematics minor and a MA in Applied Economics, she is also an up and coming entertainer in the adult film industry. Valentina says she first decided to start webcamming in October of 2015. She then went on to do her first real porn shoot in early 2016.

Since then Valentina’s career in the adult film industry has been on the rise. She has taken being trans and shown the world that they no longer get to define what it means to be trans or treat being transgender as just a fetish.

Because of fetishes, in general, have a long history of being demonized, it may be tempting to view conversations surrounding this fetishizing as just another crusade against non-traditional sexual preferences. But this accusation couldn’t be further from the truth. Sexual fetishes cover a broad spectrum — from foot worshipping to spanking to sploshing — but when someone says they prefer men, they say they are straight, not that they have a “fetish” for men.

This is because we typically understand general sexual orientation as an attraction that can encompass a desire to know and love that person beyond the realm of the physical. Chasing, by reducing an individual’s gender identity to sexual fixation, doesn’t move beyond the purely physical realm. And it is, as such, dehumanizing. Yet, sadly — because of how much transphobia permeates our culture — trans women are often made to feel as if they should be grateful for any kind of attention they receive, even if it’s as reductive as this.

Until we decide to have a real conversation about the fetishization of trans bodies, stories like Mia Isabell’s will continue to make headlines as a “scandal,” and trans women like Valentina will keep encountering people who try to tell them that they should be grateful for the leftover libido of chasers — as though that paradigm could ever be equal to a loving relationship built on mutual respect.

To our trans community both near and far, remember that you are more than a gender, sexual orientation or fetish. You are a human being who deserves to be loved. You are our mothers and fathers. You are our brothers and sisters. You are our classmates and teachers. We love all of you and are fighting with you.

Houston Face Awards

Part Two: LGBTQ Community Steps Up Following Hurricane Harvey

Houston LGBTQ Community Steps Up Following Hurricane Harvey

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


Final: A Special Two Part Series


 

(HOUSTON) — An invaluable asset to Houston’s LGBT community–and to Houston as a whole–is local bar owner Julie Mabry. Mabry, a well-known face and name in the LGBTQ community as owner and operator of the only LGBTQ girl bar, Pearl Bar. During the storm, Mabry took herself to the streets armed with friends and Facebook Live as she shared videos of devastation from the storm.

Julie-Mabry-About-Magazine-Hurricane-Harvey Part Two: LGBTQ Community Steps Up Following Hurricane Harvey
Photo: HPD Officers with Julie Mabry at George R. Brown

As the weather has cleared, Mabry only worked harder. In the days to follow Mabry opened her bar as a donation center, and to host a benefit in conjunction with the University of Houston’s LGBTQ Alumni Association raising funds for the Barker Ripley’s senior citizen community.


Others Making #HoustonStrong

Houston’s chapter of the Human Rights Campaign Board of Governors member Melissa Vivanco stepped up when people needed her the most after #HurricanHarvey.

Vivanco is no stranger to volunteering. Her handprints can be seen all across the Houston LGBTQ community. Vivanco has spent the days following Harvey collecting donations for those in need, rescuing animals, and helping her fellow Houstonians. Melissa continues to prove just what an important part impact the LGBTQ community can have on the city struck by tragedy.

George-R.-Brown-Donations-About-Magazine-Hurricane-Harvey-300x225 Part Two: LGBTQ Community Steps Up Following Hurricane HarveyRicky Ferguson; a teacher for Houston ISD, had a bit of foresight for how catastrophic this storm was going to be. Ferguson took the opportunity to organize a box truck full of donations and supplies coming from the Carolinas to be brought to Houston. The truck arrived post-Harvey and its supplies was donated to a charter school for distribution.

Other members of the community who have stepped up to help out include Travis Nixon, who also has served as a committee chair for Pride Houston, Inc. Nixon spent evenings at the George R. Brown Convention Center volunteering. As the storm raged into Houston, Nixon took to social media to engage his friends, and build a volunteer base to join him, and to make donations.


Where we go from here

There is absolutely no question that the recovery from Hurricane Harvey is a long and tumultuous road ahead. Still, if any of the people above are any indication of what good can come from within a community, a light can be seen at the end of that long, winding road. It is nothing short of miraculous that a community like that of LGBTQ people—which has for decades faced ostracization, oppression, and violence—has stood up when its city was in need and put aside every adversity they have faced in order to help.

This speaks to what our community is all about. Though imperfect, and though we have a very long way to go in terms of inclusivity, LGBTQ understand what it means to extend a hand when one is needed. Color, creed, religion, nationality, citizenship status, gender identification–those are nonissues to the majority of LGBTQ people on a day-to-day basis, and that bleeds over into crises such as the storm that was Harvey.

They say that it takes a village to raise a child. But what does it take to raise an entire city back onto its feet? It takes exemplary human beings in every form coming together and sharing basic human compassion and love. It takes people like we see here within our own community.

Thank you, Houston’s LGBTQ people, for helping to make us #HoustonStrong.

Houston Face Awards

Interview: Ricky Rebel Is Sprinkling Confidence

Ricky Rebel Is Sprinkling Confidence

Interview: Ricky Rebel Releases New Music Video For Upcoming Album

(Los Angeles) – In “If You Were My Baby,” the first single from the upcoming album by Ricky Rebel, the glam rocker sings about how one should never be afraid to ask for what he or she wants from life.    The super fun video is out today, as well ten slick remixes of “If You Were My Baby” by some of the biggest DJ/producers on the planet.

“I’m sprinkling confidence into every club in the world,” proclaims Ricky Rebel from his Los Angeles home to About Magazine.  “Confidence is an asset. It shows leadership and draws people in.  I truly believe it is the most attractive quality a person can possess and to all my Rebel Mafia out there, I say: if you like someone, tell them and make a case as to why you are the best. You might be surprised with the results.”

“I had something to prove on “If You Were My Baby,” continues Rebel, who noticeably sings a lot more on the record than he has previously.  “Sam Harmonix, the producer on this single, works alongside Grammy award-winners and I wanted to impress him with my harmonies.  You know, prove there’s real talent behind the fierceness.”

Ricky-Rebel-remixes-copy-300x169 Interview: Ricky Rebel Is Sprinkling Confidence

The “If You Were My Baby” remixes offer a wide array of different sounds.  “Godfather of EDM” Tommie Sunshine gives the track a fun, modern twist that crosses between EDM and club in his mix, while Zambianco presents a cool tribal beat that fitness buffs will enjoy working out to.   Hector Fonseca’s version is straight up club with a Brazilian vibe that sounds tailor-made for the world’s biggest Pride festivals.  The Dirty Werk mix is a pop dance hybrid best suited for straight dance floors, while the SaberZ mix is hard core EDM, perfect for large stadiums.  DJ Hayworth’s track, with its lovely tropical deep house vibe, is the most unique of the remixes while KOIL and Vito Fun’s mix has an urban club vibe that fans of Beyonce will enjoy.  Mr. Mig’s pop remix is probably the closest to Rebel’s original track.

Ricky-performing-300x211 Interview: Ricky Rebel Is Sprinkling Confidence

Ricky Rebel burst on the music scene in 1997 as the lead vocalist of the boy-band No Authority. Signed by Michael Jackson to Michael’s MJJ Music label at Sony, he toured with 98 Degrees, Destiny’s Child, Aaron Carter, and Ashlee and Jessica Simpson.   In 2000, the band moved to Madonna’s Maverick label where they toured with Britney Spears and released their Billboard Top 40 chart hit, “Can I Get Your Number.”

Ricky went solo as Ricky Rebel in 2012. Since then, he has released two albums, Manipulator featuring hit singles “Geisha Dance,” “Get It On” and “You Need a Woman” and The Blue Album featuring “Star” and “Boys and Sometimes Girls”.

Visit his website.

Houston Face Awards

George Bar Remodel Survived Hurricane Harvey

George Country Sports Bar Re-Model Complete In Montrose Before Harvey

George Country Sports Bar Completed Re-Model Before #HurricaneHarvey Made Landfall In Houston

(Houston) – Hours before #HurricaneHarvey decided to make a lasting impact on Houston one LGBT bar in Montrose completed a total outside remodel – leaving the friendly neighborhood bar named George Country Sports Bar to fear what would happen.

“We have a completely new rear patio that expands when we open the fence for special nights, like Thursday night steak night,” explained George Country Sports Bar manager Walter Pollpeter. “The staff who came to work and worked during those stressful times, they were incredible. I am grateful to them.”

The LGBT community bar sits off Fairview Street at Stanford Street and has been a staple in the Houston community for the past 10+ years. Currently owned by George Konar, the bar was originally built in 1955 and was called ‘Past Times,’ and ‘Bricks II,’ before becoming ‘George Country Sports Bar.’

The new renovations include a newly laid rear drive way, a new black canopy for the front patio, new roof, new fencing and beautiful new siding.

“The rear patio fence opens and allows us to expand for special events. Our Thursday steak night is one of those,” Pollpeter said.

“We were lucky to not get any damage during Harvey, and were able to be open and help feed the community.”

The inside of George stays very much the same, ‘hardwood’ everywhere! The walls are lined with flat screen’s that display every sports game or news channel available.

Houston Face Awards