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Houston Leather Pride Grows Stronger & Larger

Houston’s Fourth Annual Leather Pride In Montrose Wrapped Up This Past Weekend With Men, Leather, Food Trucks, And Some Nasty Pig!

(Houston) — Deciding to don my newly-minted custom harness, I went down to Houston’s Eagle and check out the fourth annual Leather Pride. As soon as I turned the corner of Hyde Park and Stanford Street in Montrose, I was amongst a sea of men and women in leather and gear. A reminder of when I attended the Folsom Street Fair a number of years ago – only local!

The parking lot across the street from the Eagle had been transformed into 12-15 mini booths where vendors were selling their wares along with several food trucks and a bar where I could satisfy my Dos XX craving and have a few shots of Patron before the night began. Among the mini-shops offered was a booth from my favorite brand, Nasty Pig. Lots of cool erotic art, clothing, jewelry and of course the necessary fetish gear to kick the night into gear.

About-Magazine-Houston-Leather-Pride-2017-D-1024x768 Houston Leather Pride Grows Stronger & LargerI spent quite a bit of time there and even grabbed a bite to eat from a Korean/Mexican fusion truck – amazing! I walked across the street to Eagle and was inundated with the intoxicating smell of leather upon entering the bar. I’m a fairly fit guy, but was blown away by how many muscle jocks were there, all in harnesses and other gear.

Out on the back patio a Mistress named Jennifer was tying people up to a St. Andrews cross and flogging them; “you’ve been naughty and need to be punished,”  I hear her say to someone. I’d have to have more Dos XX to participate!

There was also a substantial booth by gay custom silversmith Tribal Son, who had flown in from Ft Lauderdale to participate in the weekend.

About-Magazine-Houston-Leather-Pride-2017-C-1024x768 Houston Leather Pride Grows Stronger & Larger“I’m here every year”, said owner Peter to About Magazine. “I totally believe in what these guys here are doing” he continues. I decided to treat myself and bought a silver bear claw on a woven leather lanyard. Really butches up my look I thought.

I walked over to the dancefloor and it was slammed with shirtless men. I approached the DJ booth and learned that spinning was no other than bear DJ Matt Consola. Matt does remixes with Division 4 and has had numerous Billboard hits. He also is the owner of “Swishcraft”, the nation’s number one Gay dance music label.

After dancing a bit, I went upstairs. They had changed the lighting to where it was very dimly lit with two muscle dancers in harnesses on dance boxes in the middle of the room. I couldn’t take my eyes off the dancers, wow! I had so much fun, I continued the next day for the disco Sundays, which was a closing party for the weekend.

This is our fourth year doing Houston Leather Pride,” Houston Eagle owner Mark De Lange explains. “All the larger cities have a leather pride, it’s time we do too!”

De Lange explained how the event has grown each year and the event is to ‘celebrate the spirit of leather through friendship and fellowship.’

About-Magazine-Houston-Leather-Pride-2017-a-1024x768 Houston Leather Pride Grows Stronger & Larger

It was also great to hear the event also generates money for local charities. “This years’ beneficiaries are Legacy and the JD Doyle LGBT Archives,” De Lange said.

It’s always scheduled for Columbus Day weekend yearly. Congrats to the team who put the weekend on and keep up the good work! As I watched the constant smiles on people’s faces and saw their ability to express themselves I realized this is something our community needed all along. See you next year!

Click here for more information on Houston Leather Pride

Houston Face Awards

Frank Billingsley: Mothers, Marriage, and Meteorology

Frank Billingsley

Mothers, Marriage, and Meteorology

A closer look at KPRC Chief Meteorologist Frank Billingsley and his new book Swabbed and Found.

(HOUSTON) — Frank Billingsley is no stranger to the City of Houston. In fact, he’s been in the living rooms of Houstonians for years as KPRC Channel 2’s chief meteorologist—a position he assumed over twenty years ago in 1995. Despite how well we may feel we know him—Frank has never held back from sharing details of his personal life—there are still many things that the public doesn’t know about him.

Many of those details are outlined in Frank’s new book, Swabbed and Found, which chronicles his life not just as a meteorologist, but as a gay man and a child of adoption. The latter recently led Frank upon an incredible, sordid, and sometimes complicated journey to discover better who he is and where he comes from.

I sat down with Frank in the weeks following Hurricane Harvey to discuss the book, his life before this journey, coming out, and, of course, the weather.

Billingsley states that while his sister—who is also adopted—for years yearned to find out more about her birth parents, the need to know about his own had never overwhelmed him. In fact, it wasn’t until his colleague and dear friend, Dominique Sachse, presented him with an email link about biological genealogy testing that he even considered it a possibility. After all, his home state was a closed-records state that didn’t allow for adoption records to be released if requested to remain closed by the birth parents. At least not without “a lot of trouble and a lot of money,” as Frank put it himself in our interview.

“That was the first time that I had realized that it [genealogical science] had become sophisticated enough and that the database had become as big as it is … It’s like a fingerprint. It’s so unique that it can link you to another person.”

Yet, it was that link that led Mr. Billingsley down a road to discovering his birth mother—who he has since met and with whom he has established a relationship. As Frank puts it, “not everybody wants that information,” when it comes to finding the people that put them up for adoption. However, that knowledge led him to a more enlightened state of being—closure even. To hear Frank make a compelling argument on the idea of closure and finality, “Closure is closure. And closure is very often sad. You close life with a funeral. You close relationships with a glass of wine. You close jobs with hugs and tears. But closure is a part of life.”

SF_FNLcvr-683x1024 Frank Billingsley: Mothers, Marriage, and MeteorologyClosure, however, did prove harder for some than others. Billingsley’s aforementioned sister did discover her family, only to find that her birth mother had passed of cancer and that her father wasn’t open to a relationship with her. She did, however, find that she had half-siblings, with whom she has maintained contact.

When the conversation circled around to Frank being gay—Frank and his husband Kevin, with whom he has a stepson, married on December 12th, 2012—I asked Frank about coming out to his parents in a decade not as accepting as the 2010s. Frank admits that it wasn’t easy, but that it wasn’t as difficult as the coming out stories that are often told. He states that his adopted father admitted he didn’t understand homosexuality, but knew how smart Frank was. He continued to tell his son that if someone as smart as Frank thought that it was okay, there couldn’t be anything wrong with being gay. “

However, when it came down to meeting his biological mother, Billingsley admits that there was a moment where it felt as though he had to come back out of the closet. He states that his mother, like his adopted parents, is a devout Christian, and that maybe she does not understand homosexuality.

Being someone in the media, Frank is never without news in his face. A supporter of the strides that the Obama Administration made for LGBTQ people, I asked Frank what he thought of the current administration, and whether or not he worried that rights would be stripped away from LGBTQ people. He seemed hopeful, stating, “I don’t think that the legislation would be there to support that. And if it does, I don’t think the people who vote for the legislature will support that. I don’t think we want to see our country go back.” He continued, “When we’re dealing with human beings, and their rights to be human beings, taking a deep breath and pondering whether the decisions concerning their rights are futile. If you look at the trans military ban—you have generals who are saying, ‘No, no!’ It’s bad enough we’re banning Muslims … and now this?”

As far as Hurricane Harvey is concerned, Billingsley was concerned for what he proudly refers to as “my city,” a phrase Houstonians everywhere are familiar with and that binds us together. He states he wasn’t surprised by how the city came together, nor was he surprised by the impact of the storm—which he himself predicted to bring as much as 50” of rain to certain areas surrounding the city.

Billingsley’s book (being released by Houston’s Bright Sky Press) is a page-turner. It’s one that Houstonians will read with ease because each word can be heard in Billingsley’s voice. That won’t stop it from gathering attention outside Houston, however. For there’s much more appeal in a story the story than just Frank’s fame. In fact, it would be fair to say that anyone who has ever had uncertainties about who they are will have a difficult time putting the book down. However, in this debut chronicle of his life, his main message rings loud and clear:

Regardless of color, orientation, race, nationality, religion, age, size—people are people. We’re all related by that fact. And as such, people all deserve the same rights and respects.

And if there may be no better mouthpiece in Houston for that message to come from than Frank himself—a smart, successful, well-round, and well-respected gay man and pillar of the LGBTQ community.

Houston Face Awards

Radio Personality Al Farb Goes Country Gold

Radio Personality Al Farb Goes Country Gold

Houston Radio Personality Al Farb Goes Country Gold As Host Of National Radio’s ‘Country Gold!’

(HOUSTON) – Country music’s favorite FM radio host, Al Farb, moves into the nationally syndicated “The Original Country Gold with Rowdy Yates,” according to a press release from Compass Media Network.

The move, only temporary, will surely put the smooth voice of Farb into millions of new ears. Rowdy Yates will continue to host the show but is taking time off to visit other stations across the country.

“This is truly a once in a lifetime experience, being handed the mic from a true radio legend is a dream come true!” – Al Farb

Al Farb will be ‘on-loan’ to TOGC from the show’s flagship affiliate in Houston, Texas, KTHT-FM/ Country Legends 97.1 which airs the show Saturday nights from 7p- Midnight Central, weekly.

This is truly a once in a lifetime experience, being handed the mic from a true radio legend is a dream come true!” Said, Al Farb.

Being on the National stage is a daunting task, and I couldn’t be more honored to fill in for not only someone I look up to in this industry, but also a friend in Rowdy Yates.”

I could not be happier to give this up and coming broadcaster an opportunity to fill in on the nations’ number one country request show. I hope that the industry joins me as we celebrate this milestone in Al’s career.” Said Rowdy Yates, host of The Original Country Gold.

You can hear Al Farb host The Original Country Gold on its affiliate stations across the country this weekend. A live stream of the show is available this Saturday, September 16th from 7p-Midnight Central Time at: (Click Here).

Original Country Gold is a weekend institution in over 75 markets and is the #1 country request show. Rowdy Yates is a 2013 ACM Award Winner and member of the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.

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