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Editor’s Note: Big Changes at About Magazine

About Magazine Wendy Taylor Anthony Ramirez Houston LGBTQ
The current About Magazine staff.

Screen-Shot-2018-08-24-at-8.51.17-PM Editor's Note: Big Changes at About Magazine

It’s me again, Anthony Ramirez (or basically no one). Sorry to hit you with two back-to-back editor’s notes in one day. I know they’re annoying, and I apologize. Please feel free to hit me in the face if you see me at Neon Boots later today for their 5th anniversary celebration (there’s my plug). But that aside, I want to take a moment to fill everyone in on some very important news.

It has been nearly ten months since I took over as editor-in-chief of About Magazine; and in that time I have learned the true meaning of what it is to be exhausted. When I came on to work for this magazine in June of last year, the staff consisted of only then-executive publisher/founder Cade Michals, entertainment reporter Morena Roas, then-reporter Shelby Jeffcoat, photographer David Guerra, and myself. Since then, our staff has grown to a staff of nearly twenty. While Cade departed About for bigger and better opportunities but still remains our publisher, Morena, David, and Shelby all stayed on in more hands-on capacities, the latter becoming the managing editor of our newest branch, About Magazine Dallas. Joining the ranks alongside all of us came associate editor Jessica Olsen, About Trans editor Ian Townsley, editorial consultant Wendy Taylor, director of music and entertainment Al Farb, fashion writers Stoo Gogo and Gin Martini, my assistant and book reviewer Megan Prevost, About Magazine Dallas writers Raunda Ashton and Ravin Bones, columnist Madyson Crawford, and interns Brandie Larsen and Adam Kuta.

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New About Media Group logo. Original design by Cade Michals with contributions by Ramirez.

As a team, the About Magazine staff has worked tirelessly to put out more content everyday, support the community with fundraisers and events and spotlight pieces, focus on topics important to queer people like politics and sex and health, partner with businesses, shows, and nonprofits like the University of Texas Medical Branch, Guava Lamp, Neon Boots, Pride Houston, Pride Galveston, H-Town Kings, The Woodlands Pride, Pearl Bar, Men Having Babies, and so many more. We have focused in on pieces relevant to the nature of and state of the LGBTQ community in order to spotlight and focus in on individuals in the community who are making the world a better place for queer people. Additionally, About Magazine has expanded three-fold, introducing the only LGBTQ book publishing house in Texas (About Editions) in December of 2017, opening the only LGBTQ TV and film production studio in Texas (About Media) in June while at the same time launching our Dallas branch of the magazine with Shelby at its helm. In that time, we’ve published 8 books, have six more on the way before year’s end, have put two original web series into production, and are in preproduction for another, while also totally reestablishing the magazine and bringing it to a point where Newsweek is citing articles on stories that we broke and our books are winning the New England Book Festival awards for poetry.

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Promo for Wineding Down from About Media

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking.

“Anthony … you’re such a bad ass.”

I know, thank you. It’s portion control and water. But the truth of the matter is that most of these things wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for that incredible team I’d listed above. I’m kind of a hot mess, y’all. Like … real life Anthony is just constantly trying to make sure that the electrical fire that is his life doesn’t set his favorite pair of shoes on fire. So, when I say that everyone on this team (new and old) has made About into the content-producing, thought-provoking, community-loving magazine that it is today and that I am just trash, I mean it. And while we still have a long way to go before we’ve hit the mark we are all striving toward, we really have something going here that we think is special. Again, none of that would be possible without the people who have stuck by my side, listened to me while I cried about being a fraud, reminded me that I could do anything I set my mind to, and helped steer a ship that was constantly in danger of capsizing.

There is one person, however, who really dug her heels into the ground to make this magazine a success from the time I took over and that has not relented on that dream since then. Her name is Wendy Taylor, and while she was previously the magazine’s editorial consultant — aiding writers in shaping pitch ideas, conferring with me about the direction of the Pride Edition and how to best integrate the magazine into the community while also introducing us to some of our most important contacts. More over, however, she has been one of my closest friends and most trusted confidants over this past year. That’s why — after a conversation at QFest with Spectrum South’s Kelsey Gledhill and Megan Smith who seemed to have no idea how I was running a magazine without a creative director — it was so easy for me to make the decision I’m here to announce today.

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Ramirez & Taylor locked out of a business meeting.

Effective as of two weeks ago, Wendy Taylor has joined me as my partner at About Magazine, taking on the role of Chief Creative Officer, or CCO. What this means is that Wendy will be taking over the business side of About Magazine. She will be in charge of handling the budget, the business plan, the projections, and the advertising revenue so that I can spend a little more time focusing my attention onto the content of our three little baby companies. Wendy is — for lack of a better term — a Jack of All Trades. A musician and vocalist since she was a child, Wendy has made a career of performing as a professional musician. However, what many of her fans and acquaintances don’t know about her is that she’s also a full-time mom, a full-time student on the path to beginning medical school, and has worked over the course of her career getting new businesses off of the ground and as her own business manager as a musician (there’s so much more, but I have to wrap this up).

And that’s essentially what About has been since I took over — a new business (well, three).

About Media Group (the company operating as About Magazine, About Media, and About Editions) has been growing faster than a child these last few months; and I honestly believe I would have lost control of everything had it not been for Wendy Taylor, as well as many of my other staff members. We have so much exciting news to share with you in the coming weeks, and much of that is to do with the work Wendy has done, that Shelby is doing in Dallas, and that Al has contributed. So I hope that you will all join me in welcoming Wendy into her new position and wishing her the best of luck. Not that she needs it. She is one tough bitch and has brains and wit unmatched by most others. And with that said, I owe to both Wendy and my entire staff (especially so Al, Megan, Jessica, and Morena, without whom I’d have drowned 100-times over in my own self-pity and failures) a great deal of thanks and all my love. We have so much more to share with you in the coming weeks, and I cannot wait to do so because I am terrible at keeping secrets. But truthfully, it is going to be beautiful to get to continue to he and work with the LGBTQ community in all the ways we have planned. We have the most beautiful and diverse team here at About as we approach our ten-year anniversary, and I couldn’t think of any other people with whom I’d want to celebrate ten years.

I can’t wait to see what the next ten years have in store (but hopefully a lot of Xanax).

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Anthony Ramirez
Editor-in-Chief

Editor’s Note: Help Our Friends at Spectrum South

Screen-Shot-2018-08-24-at-8.51.17-PM Editor's Note: Help Our Friends at Spectrum South

I really should stop addressing everyone as “readers” considering the fact that we now offer so much video content. Followers? Viewers? (You do technically watch and read by viewing. Right?). Ah, well. I digress. The reason we’re planting this note to all of you is to let you know that some very special friends of ours need your help. If you’ve been paying attention lately, you may know that we at About Magazine have an earnest infatuation with another LGBTQ magazine here in Houston. While we love all our friends at all the queer publications that cohabitate here in Houston — OutSmart and The Montrose Star are two large staples of this community without which many LGBTQ Houstonians might suffer a great loss of information — we have a very special place in our hearts for a magazine that shares the same vision About does and that never ceases to impress us.

That magazine — as you may have guessed from my other blushing, giddy notes about them — is Spectrum South. 

40053754_762468307478014_4539267329309016064_o Editor's Note: Help Our Friends at Spectrum SouthIf you actually do read these notes I drop from time-to-time, you’re probably asking, “Yo, Anthony. Why do you like Spectrum South so much? Are you trying to Single White Female them? Why are you so obsessed?”

Truthfully, these are all actually very valid questions; and I worry about it myself a little bit, as the idea of starting to dress like Kelsey Gledhill — chief creative officer of Spectrum — does cross my mind quite often. But the truth of the matter is that Spectrum South (led and co-founded by Gledhill and editor-in-chief, Megan Smith) is just really freaking awesome. Like … I sometimes cannot believe the fact that I never tire of boasting about these two young women and their publication, as well as their entire talented staff. It may sound silly (and even bordering stalker-esque), but Spectrum South has a huge impact on all of the decisions that I make for the future and betterment of About. 

That isn’t to say that we’re here to copy their every move, learn how they think, gain their trust, infiltrate their business, and initiate a coup. (Was that too specific? Shit just got weird). It’s just that they are literally the utmost forward-thinking, diverse, and inclusive queer publication in this city, which is a road I takes steps down every single day in order to improve About. But what’s impressive isn’t the fact that they want to be inclusive or that they want to give something from their publication to every part of the LGBTQIA spectrum in all its many beautiful colors. It’s that they’re actually doing it. Strange as that may sound, this sort of triumph isn’t easy.

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Kelsey Gledhill, Anthony Ramirez, and Megan Smith.

In my time at About Magazine, it has proven difficult over-and-over again to truly bring representation to everyone in this community. Whether they be Black, lesbian, Latino, asexual, bisexual, gay, queer, nonbinary, trans, woman, Asian, or any other marginalized person, finding the right way to execute the desire to do so can be sometimes fruitless and exhausting. It’s like I said before, this is a road that I take About down every single day (not without the help of our own lovely staff). Only, sometimes that road is unlit, and it winds, and it takes sharp turns, and it goes up-and-down hills you aren’t expecting because you’re traveling it in the dark. So imagine that blindness and loss of direction coupled with the fact that, oh, hey, your power steering fluid has just run out.

To give a little background on Kelsey and Megan — at least as best as I understand it — both these queer women worked in Houston’s LGBTQ journalism scene before Spectrum but found themselves longing for something that really spoke to the corners of the community into which people avoiding shining their flashlights. So they took it upon themselves to create a publication for the community that might better serve our LGBTQIA siblings that are often more marginalized than even the co-founders themselves — queer, white women — or myself — a gay Latino. And with a team of some of Houston’s most incredible writers and photographers that includes (but is not limited to) Crimson Jordan, Barrett White, Yvonne Marquez, and many more, Spectrum has been able to really slip into those creases and cracks to present pieces about some of the Queer South’s most prominent LGBTQ people and businesses, while also discussing topics queer people need a space to read about — from sex to politics to gender affirmation to consent and much, much more.

That’s why when Spectrum South shared with us that they’d be starting a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for what has turned into their second year in business, we were more than delighted not just to write this letter, but to also invite them to be guests on Wineding Down with Anthony next week and to help get all of our fans, viewers, followers, and readers (oh, look! I got it right!) to pitch into their campaign so that they can continue to bring to you some of the finest content available to queer folks in the South.

And after just three short, impressive days (with still 34 left to go), friends of Spectrum have already contributed $2,749 dollars — more than half of their $5000 goal. Just think what a great excess we could help them obtain if About followers (which summate on social media to over twelve thousand people) could donate as little as a dollar a piece. Sure, not everyone can do it. And that’s understandable. But if you can, I implore of you to donate so that Spectrum can continue to bring Houston (and far beyond) the amazing content they’ve been generating for a little over a year now. With that said, if you can’t, keep reading their pieces, watching their videos, and sharing their content with your loved ones.

It is important to have a publication like Spectrum South in our LGBTQ community — one that hands megaphones to those that have long gone unheard — for the sake of continued progress in a world that maybe lately has seemed more apt to regress. Spectrum, Kelsey, and Megan inspire us at About to care more, do more, and want more for and about our people, all the while reminding us that while it may be difficult to see at first glance, there is goodness in this daunting world.

Screen-Shot-2018-08-24-at-8.45.43-PM Editor's Note: Help Our Friends at Spectrum South
Anthony Ramirez
Editor-in-Chief

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Photographers Gather at the Kitchen Sink

The Kitchen Sink Photography Houston LGBTQ Models

Returning after a successful first year, The Kitchen Sink is an opportunity event for photographers to come out, enrich, and diversify their portfolios.

(HOUSTON) – Everyone is a photographer in 2018. Right? Between Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, stories, filters, editing softwares, and high-resolution phone cameras, it seems like everyone has taken up photography as a hobby, and many as an amateur profession. And what do we get to see when we log into social media? Breathtaking landscapes, platters of food, fruity drinks, well-toned swimsuit models, and selfies made to look like a close-up shot taken by someone else. But photography is — and has always been — more than just these things; and as time generates new methods of snapping and editing photos, real, artistic, photography has taken a step back, somewhat cheapened by the 21st century amateur photographer.

33121570_10156533518609612_7455129925167611904_o-e1534378321864 Photographers Gather at the Kitchen SinkBut the Kitchen Sink is here to change that. After a successful freshman year in Houston, the event curated by Jeff Soderstrom is geared toward providing photographers a space and time to come in and create art for their portfolios is returning with that very same mission in mind. By bringing together dancers, singers, military members, clergy people , authors, seniors, children, male models, GLBT folks, plus-sized models, and all of the other beautiful outlier, the Kitchen Sink is pushing for photographers to have the opportunity to capture the beautiful and idiosyncratic parts of the world they may not get a chance to encompass in their day-to-day lives. Modeling at the event for Houston photographers include About Magazine’s own Gin Martini and her team of LGBTQ cosplayers, drag queen Cyn City, fire performer Desmund Iceucold Mitchell,Laura Siebert’s flamenco dancing group, magicians Rangel and Son, and so many more.

The event takes place this Saturday, August 18th. Photographers who are interested in participating can contact Jeff Soderstrom here.

Look through the photos below for some shots from last year’s event:

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BREAKING: Houston’s El Real Seems to Respond to El Tiempo Controversy

El Real El Tiempo Houston LGBTQ Jeff Sessions

Montrose-favorite Tex-Mex restaurant, El Real, seemed to respond to the controversy surrounding its neighbor, El Tiempo, with a sweet marquee message.

(HOUSTON) – Montrose — Houston’s very own, historic “gayborhood” — is known for its bright lights, fun nightlife, well-attended events, and displays of grandeur. And no local business is quite the part of that as El Real Tex-Mex Cafe. Located at 1201 Westheimer just yards from the intersection of Montrose Blvd., El Real has been serving Montrose patrons for years and boasts a marquee even larger than that of the the historic River Oaks Theater … or even Trader Joe’s. Following the controversy that transpired when local Houston staple El Tiempo Cantina posted photos to all of the social media accounts for each of their restaurants featuring U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, it would appear as if El Real is making a courageous statement regarding the topic of heated discussion.

Sunday, a photograph of El Real’s marquee was taken by Pride Portraits owner Eric Edward Schell and shared to social media, which read:

“Brunch sessions at El rEAL ARE ALWAYS CAGE FREE AND FULL OF RAINBOWS.”

39102202_2005544769508840_7530553940341948416_o BREAKING: Houston's El Real Seems to Respond to El Tiempo Controversy
Photo by Eric Edward Schell of Pride Portraits

The clever quip played not only on the separation of immigrant parents from their children — the latter forced into detention camps — but also reminded Montrose residents and frequenters of the LGBTQ community that at least one of their restaurants does not tolerate the bigotry of Sessions’ political stances and actions … while also boasting an ingenuity-filled nod at the U.S. Attorney General’s surname.

As About Magazine first reported late Friday evening (which was later picked up by national news outlets such as Newsweek), El Tiempo found themselves under fire amongst Houstonians (especially those who identify as LGBTQ and Latino) when the U.S. Attorney General entered the establishment for a meal Friday afternoon. After an outcry of backlash on social media (prompting the hashtag #BoycottElTiempo) due to Sessions’ stances on the LGBTQ+ community and his part in the separation of immigrant parents from their children, El Tiempo released a statement via their social media shown below:

Screen-Shot-2018-08-11-at-12.46.02-AM BREAKING: Houston's El Real Seems to Respond to El Tiempo Controversy

Even after deleting the photograph of Sessions and executive chef Domenic Laurenzo, social media criers continued to insist that El Tiempo not be frequented. The logic lay two-fold: Sessions is an avid antagonist to migrant Americans from Mexico, as well as the fact that El Tiempo’s Montrose and Westheimer locations are usually visited by people of color and the LGBTQ community. Some even took to their social media to remind the restaurant chain that it was those two marginalized peoples that had kept the doors of the original El Tiempo open, operating, and expanding since 1998. El Tiempo soon closed down all its social media platforms and has remained hushed over this past weekend.

El Tiempo has been a popular Houston Tex-Mex chain since 1998, when Domenic Tiempo — eldest son of Houston restaurant legend “Mama” Ninfa Laurenzo, restaurant proprietor of the Mama Ninfa’s restaurants — opened the Richmond location. Mama Ninfa’s restaurants were in the Laurenzo family until the 1990s, when bankruptcy struck Laurenzo. Laurenzo was also at the helm of Bambolino’s, a popular Italian restaurant that went on to accrue a total of 17 locations.

Some were unsurprised by the photo, as the Houston Chronicle reported in 2016 that restaurant owner and brother to the executive chef, Roland Laurenzo, had expressed publicly his support for sitting-president Donald J. Trump. Cognizant of this fact or not, many previous patrons of the chain have sworn loyalty to not returning to El Tiempo.

ELTIEMPO BREAKING: Houston's El Real Seems to Respond to El Tiempo Controversy
Screenshot courtesy of Edward Eric Schell.