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Intersex Awareness Day 2017

Intersex Awareness Day 2017
A graphic created by Anthony Ramirez for Intersex Awareness Day 2017.

Everything you need to know about what it means to be intersex on Intersex Awareness Day

(HOUSTON) — For many in the LGBTQ community, there’s a tendency to forget that the spectrum doesn’t stop at the Q. In fact, the acronym often includes a + at the end, to maintain inclusivity of all the people who aren’t abbreviated in the acronym. However it is seldom remembered that LGBTQ+ is actually LGBTQIA: lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, and asexual.

Many of these terms have been imbedded into our memory by now. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual are the most simple to understand for people outside the community, with trans seeming new to straight, cis-gender people (it’s not new, by the way). Asexuality could be perceived as simple explain to anyone who has no grasp on the subject. But when the word ‘intersex’ is thrown around, most people (including many in the LGBTQIA community) don’t have a clear understanding of what being intersex means.

Today, October 26th is National Intersex Awareness Day. The date marks fourteen years since the Intersex Society of North America (which ceased operations last year in 2016) first commemorated of the event back in 2003. The significance of October 26th, however, comes from that very date back in 1996 when the first public demonstration of intersex awareness was made in Boston by the ISNA. Despite the dissolving of the ISNA, October 26th (as well as National Intersex Day of Solidarity on November 8th) are currently maintained and promoted by the the Intersex Day Project, headed by Morgan Carpenter and Laura Inter since 2015.

Still, the question remains for many people within and outside of the community: what exactly is it to be intersex? Many people (wrongly) associate being intersex with being trans. This is not the case. In fact, it’s completely different altogether. So, to help spread awareness and clear up these misconceptions about being intersex on Intersex Awareness Day, I’ve compiled a list of facts about being intersex that will hopefully serve to create a better understanding of the subject.

  1. What exactly does intersex mean?

The trouble with that question is that being intersex has several aspects. In fact, the term is an umbrella for many variations of similar body types. According to, “Intersex people are born with sex characteristics that don’t meet medical and social norms for female or male bodies.” This can many any number of things, with innumerable variations of genitals and reproductive organs that don’t correlate to binary standards.

  1. Is being intersex the same as being a hermaphrodite?

No. For years, hermaphrodite was used synonymously with intersex. This lasted until the mid-20th century, but modern medicine has since begun to segregate the two from one another. By definition, a hermaphrodite is a living organism with both male and female reproductive organs. However due the complexity and presentation of intersex genitalia, including the varieties in which the reproductive organs present, the two have become medically disassociated with one another.

  1. How common is intersexuality?

According to the website for for the Intersex Society of North America, calculating these numbers can be tricky and often controversial. To let them better explain, we have provided a link to their FAQ page where the topic can be summed up in more detail, which can be found here

  1. What happens when intersex is identified at birth?

When identified at birth, many parents make the decision to take medical action to assign their child one binary gender. However, due to the the medical complexities behind intersexuality, a child who is assigned a binary gender at birth may not grow up to identify with the gender they were assigned. Intersex pertains not only to the presentation of the person’s genitalia, but also to the hormones the body produces and the functions of the body—which often are neither male nor female, but instead sometimes somewhere in between. One intersex person—who identifies as female—said in an interview with Cosmo that while she identifies with female and presents with fully-functional female reproductive organs, her body does not produce natural estrogen. This is just one of many ways that intersex can present itself in the human body.

  1. How do intersex people identify in terms of sexual orientation?

Just like with all other people, gender and sexuality are mutually exclusive of one another and are fluid. Intersex people are just people! They’re sexually active and enjoy dating just like all other people. Just like all the other important members of the LGBTQIA spectrum, it’s important to recognize that no matter with which gender or orientation intersex people identify, they were born who they are.

It’s time for people on and off the LGBTQIA spectrum to start being more cognizant of intersex people and to be more inclusive of them. A great starting point is with Intersex Awareness Day, and Intersex Day of Solidarity on November 8th. Ignorance on the matter only leads to exclusivity, and just like all other people—straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, trans, cis, and asexual—intersex people should be recognized and celebrated.

After all, they’re only human. They just want to be treated as such and seen by the rest of the world.

So, today, celebrate an intersex person in your life. If you don’t know anyone who is intersex, celebrate the entire intersex community. Show your support and lift them up. Explain to someone who doesn’t know what it means to be intersex. Spread awareness so that intersex people don’t continue to be swept under the rug.

For more information on intersex awareness, visit or

Love Me Tinder, Pt. II

Less Than Butterflies Gay Dating Houston Grindr

Less Than Butterflies Column

The morning after the 2017 Houston LGBT Pride Celebration, there’s more clean-up work to be done. Unloading the liquor, Stephen, another chair, and I found glasses in which to pour ourselves morning cocktails. Just behind me, I heard gravel crunching beneath someone’s feet as they approached, but I didn’t turn.

“Omigod,” Stephen muttered. “What is he doing here?”

Finally, I spun around, only to find Ezra approaching us at the U-Haul with something in hand.

“Well, good morning,” I said with a look on my face caught somewhere between a smile and confusion. Stephen reached down into the cooler, from which he pulled a bottle of some kind of of pre-mixed Ketel One concoction. He then poured a bit into each of our wine glasses and handed one to me.

Ezra raised his hand to reveal a tiny metal object.

“I accidentally stole a box-cutter last night,” he said with an awkward chuckle.

Stephen raised his wine glass to his lips, one side of his mouth curled upward and said, “Uh-huh.”

That night, I drove from the Hyatt Regency where I’d been staying through downtown. I was heading to Rich’s, where our team was meeting to celebrate the end of another successful event. Taking the long way round, I passed the Alley Theater where the marquee boasted a production of Freaky Friday: A New Musical. At the red light at Texas Ave. and Louisiana St., I snapped a blurry photo of the marquee before heading to Midtown

Single or dating, everyone in the club was drinking and dancing, making the most out of the evening while I opined about Ezra to my friends. I was certain that they were sick of hearing it. Over-and-over again, Stephen did his best to steer the conversation back to business, but it was the last thing any of us wanted to discuss. We were there to celebrate. Well, they were. I was there to be obsessive about a boy.

The number of times I found myself checking my Tinder to see if Ezra had messaged me was bordering ridiculous. It only became more frequent as I continued to drink, as did my kvetching. Stephen insisted that I ask him on a date, but my nerves couldn’t handle the idea of rejection that often accompanies the notion of dating. Instead, Stephen and I took selfies with our friend Lauren. Everyone danced upstairs. I smoked too many cigarettes. All the while, shots of Fireball were being taken. And the more shots that I took and the more vodka-cranberries I slurped down, the less Stephen’s idea to ask out Ezra seemed frightening. Hell, I was attractive and smart and talented and funny. Sure I may have had the face of a 6 and the body of a circus freak, but my winning personality was at least an 8. 

The fear returned the moment I hit send. Nothing had ever been so sobering.

“Fuck!” I screamed. “What do I do?” I asked Stephen and Lauren as I stared down at the text message I sent. The picture of the marquee for Freaky Friday stared back at me in a message to Ezra, the caption reading, “Wanna go?”

“I’m not really sure that that message constitutes asking him on a date,” Lauren told me as she handed me another Fireball shot. “Calm down. You’re freaking out over nothing. Just be more clear that you’re talking about dating and not a friendship.”

“That’s . . . a terrible idea,” I muttered. 

The longer that it took for him to text me back, the worse the neurosis became. I checked the timestamp over-and-over again. 11:58 pm. But just after one in the morning, my battery at 2%, my phone finally dinged from my pocket with a confirmation from Ezra.

Relieved, I sat there on the patio of Rich’s. One wave of neurosis having passed, a new tide of it rolled in thanks to Lauren which began to kill my buzz.

Was Lauren right? Should I clarify? Was it worth it?

We began our evening at Merida—a Mexican restaurant just a hop, skip, and a jump outside of Fifth Ward that I’m nearly certain Ezra only knew of by Googling “Mexican restaurants Houston not Pappasitos.” Despite both our initial desire to eat something, we spent our time drinking margaritas until we’d both lost track of time in our conversation. True, I was a bit overzealous in the conversation. It’s a habit of mine, especially when dining with someone I think is cute. These are basic rules of wanting someone to like you.

  1. Have an interesting subject to discuss.
  2. Don’t talk too much about yourself.
  3. Ask questions—not too personal.
  4. Don’t let the conversation trail off.
  5. Use one topic to lead into the next.

I may have broken rule #2 more than once, but I did my best to balance each instance out by asking a question about Ezra. While I knew I wouldn’t completely grow to know him in that hour-long conversation, I did learn enough about him to keep myself afloat for later. For one, his sister was at the time in rehab; he was from Arkansas (to which I responded by informing him that nothing good happens in the A states, and that I was glad he’d made it out); he and his family weren’t particularly close; and in the years since he’d moved to Houston, I was pretty much the first friend he’d made.

Friend. I heard it as soon as he said it. Nevertheless, I persisted.

Unfortunately, just as the slight sinking feeling in my stomach had eased, I learned something about him that sink-holed my insides.

“I hate Houston,” Ezra remarked as I nearly spit out my margarita.

“What?!” How could he possibly hate Houston? I’ve lived here my entire life and can’t imagine that anywhere else in the world even exists, at times. I understand the opposite end of the argument, however. Houston is hot most of the year. It’s too spread out. The city is poorly planned. It exists in a red state. But the bad, for me, has never outweighed the good.

“So where do you see yourself?” I asked timidly, a margarita straw hanging out of my mouth as to keep my face from any sort of expression.

“I’m thinking about Denver. I need snow in my life. I’m actually going up there in a few months to see if I really would like to move there.”

I entertained the subject a little bit longer, even going so far as to tell him how great Denver really was and that I was sure he’d love it.  

Had it not been for the good omen the universe delivered in the form of an elderly man at the next table having a heart attack, I may never have been relinquished from the awkwardness of feigning enthusiasm. It was only then that either of us looked at the time to realize that we were running late for Freaky Friday.

We made our way to the Alley Theatre, where we were joined by two friends, Courtney—another chair at the nonprofit—and the girl she’d just begun dating, Jennifer. Throughout the entirety of the show, there was equal intrigue and delight that both Ezra and I took in the music and story. Mine may have been a bit more enthusiastic than his—nothing gives me quite the same kind of thrill as live theatre—but his was certainly a close second. At intermission, the two of us drank vodka from a flask I’d snuck in, and when it finally started to settle on top of the tequila during act two, the pep only increased. Once or twice glances were exchanged (nervous on my part, socially awkward on his). But when the show was over, it was decided that the four of us would meet Lauren in Montrose for drinks.

Not even that drunk, I’d lost my car in the underground parking lot. Courtney and Jennifer were to ride back with me, as they’d Ubered to the theatre, but found their way into Ezra’s car when mine came up missing. I searched high and low for that car for roughly fifteen minutes before a pair of headlights shone upon me. Pulling up in a tiny Mini Cooper was Ezra, rolling down the window and telling me to get in, where I found Courtney and Jennifer in the backseat.

It was then that the thought crossed my mind, just a few hours into this not-date, I had already accidentally played my damsel-in-distress card and had to be rescued. Amateur mistake.

La Grange was just like any other gentrified straight bar on Westheimer. The drinks were overpriced, the food was rubbery, the bartenders thought they were cultured because they somewhat racistly knew the difference between Gloria Estefan and Selena, and it was full of hipsters without a cause. Lauren asked us to regale her with how the night had gone thus far, making sure to mention that she hadn’t been invited to the musical.

“Well, this motherfucker took me to a restaurant on the outskirts of Fifth Ward. So I’d say things have been . . . dangerous,” I teased

Ezra laughed as a round of Fireball shots hit the bar for the three of us. Courtney and Jennifer had wandered off with some of their hipster friends.

“Well, you can pick the restaurant next time,” Ezra said to his own defense as we downed the shots.

It shouldn’t have, but that tiny statement stuck in my head for the remainder of the night. It wasn’t as though he was saying that we would hang out or see one another again, but he’d definitely left the door open to the possibility.

Soon, it was time to go; so Lauren, Ezra, and I piled into my car to ride back to the Montrose Center where they’d parked their own. Exiting the vehicle, Lauren jumped into her car, while Ezra and I stood around awkwardly, waiting for the other to be the first to say goodbye. There were no goodnight kisses or follow-up plans made further than that one previous, subliminal suggestion. Even without asking the question Lauren implored me to ask of Ezra, I had my answer. Certainly we both had a nice time. It may have even been the nicest first not-date I’d ever had.

Although, at the end of it all, I knew it was nothing more than that: not a first date.

I won’t lie: underneath the fun I had and the fact that I was happy to have had it, there was a thick layer of disappointment. It was comprised of a few things, just the least of which were his plans to someday move away. But more over, it was disappointment in myself. It wasn’t as though I’d gone and fallen in love with this boy. Jesus, we’d only just met. Still, what I’d learned about him in just the short time since we’d met certainly had made him a contender in my mind.

Alas, my Millennial mindset flourished in a dating world that existed near-completely in the realm of Tinder. Because of that, I’d been robbed of the courage or ability to ask to see him again. I couldn’t even bring myself to ask for a second not-date, despite the fact that we had matched on Tinder to begin with.

What Tinder hadn’t robbed me of, however, was my meet-cute. My accidental run-in at the bookstore, so to speak. It hadn’t taken away a fun, insightful story to tell my adopted Syrian children someday, even if Ezra wasn’t going to be their other father. Sure, Ezra and I were not dating and may never, but I still got my meet-cute. And while I’ve never been terribly certain that I buy into God or the fates or the Universe, something along those lines had at least aligned so that Ezra and I could get to here. 

As we stood there, making small talk that was killing me, I knew that I hadn’t seen the last of Ezra Rochester.

Still, in knowing I’d see him again at some point, as he got into his car and drove away, I couldn’t help but wonder what was to come. Could something come of the awkward, but nonetheless fulfilling series of events that had transpired that night?

Thus far, dating in Houston had yet to work in my favor. Somehow, a not-date with one of the five million strangers in this city was far more comfortable than an actual date. That alone sparked a sort of fear in me, though. That fear drove me to wonder—with all thanks to the Tinder gods—if I might end up falling for this boy by mistake somewhere down the line.

Back to Part I

Love Me Tinder, Pt. I

Less Than Butterflies Gay Dating Houston Grindr

Less Than Butterflies, No. 1

“Some people are settling down; some people are settling; and some people refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies.”

–Candace Bushnell

Generally speaking, dating can be fun. Dating in Houston, on the other hand, can often feel . . . obligatory. In a city of over five million people, one might think that the options available are vast and perennial. After all, all our friends are doing it. Right? If they aren’t, they’ve probably already settled down or have at least settled for someone because they were tired of mining through the endless herds of undatable people.

For gay men in Houston, it’s usually always the same sort. There’s lives-with-his-parents guy, has-too-many-roommates guy, just-wants-to-hook-up guy, wants-to-fall-in-love-immediately guy, and often even gay-republican guy—the worst of them all. And the dates? Well, they all seem repetitive, too. Dinner at Cyclone Anaya’s in Midtown; $10 bottles of wine at Barnaby’s (an option I don’t particularly hate); ice skating at Discovery Green in the wintertime; dancing and doing coke at South Beach (FYI: not a date, gentlemen).

Inevitably, there comes the postcoital wave of regretlooking over at a stranger who is just as ready for you to leave as you are to leave; sneaking out of some shitty Montrose hellhole apartment in the wee hours of the morning, just as the sprinklers of the neighborswhose luxurious townhome you’d hoped to be hooking up inpower on; forgetting you Ubered to your hook-up.

For we Millennials, a subtle escape from this trap has been air-dropped into our phones. Several, actually. Tinder, Scruff, J-Date, Farmer’s Only, GrindrI’m still waiting on the lesbian hookup app called Lickr. Still, there’s a certain conceit behind dating in queer culture—especially so following the introduction of these dating apps. They’ve stepped in and started minimizing the once boastful, giddy romance of meeting the right person. There are no meet-cutes anymore. There are no accidental run-ins at the bookshop or a coffee house. Romance has left the building, now replaced by right swipes and recognizable pings coming from cell phones when someone attractive is nearby.

I, personally, have never taken Tinder seriously. Still, every now and again a conversation might spark between me and no one in particular that would ultimately lead down a rabbit hole of realizations that we had nothing in common and that the person on the opposite side was only looking for sex. Neither suited my fancy; and I never even entertained the idea of meeting any of these men.

There was, however, one occasion in which I was able to hold a decent conversation with a man, and we kept it going sporadically for a couple months to follow. Our interests were quite similar: musicals, books, etc. Once or twice I even thought maybe I should ask this boy—we’ll call him Ezra Rochester—for a date. Still, I found myself at a loss of nerves and never made the leap to do so. I knew little about him, other than the fact that he loved musicals as much as I did and that he had an adorable dog I was probably more interested in meeting than I was him.

As the time passed, I found myself in a relationship with a boy I’d met at The Room Bar in North Houston. We dated briefly before I realized he was dumber than a hot bag of stones, but it was just long enough for me to have rid myself of my Tinder app. When the guy from the bar and I broke up, I didn’t think about Ezra. He was just a picture and a conversation in an app I’d deleted. It never occurred to me that in a city of over five million people, chance might bring us together.

Ezra turned out to be much cuter in person than he was in photos. Not to say that he wasn’t attractive in his pictures. After all, I’d swiped right for some reason. He was shorter than me, but not terribly so. He had forsaken his glasses in the name of Lasik. He was clean-shaven; and he didn’t have terrible teeth. It was enough for me.

We met like any other two people who had once upon a time matched on Tinder. I, the volunteer chair for Pride Houston, was hosting an orientation a few weeks out from the parade and festival. He was there to learn the ins-and-outs of being a volunteer. I didn’t recognize him at first. If I had to remember the face of every man I’ve ever seen on Tinder, I’d be in a great deal of trouble. It wasn’t until he was gone and I had already been doing a great deal of flirting (as pointed out by my friend Alice) that I took it upon myself to Facebook-stalk him.

“Omigod,” I muttered to Alice. “We matched on Tinder like in the fall of last year. Christ. I was just shamelessly flirting with him.”

“You really were,” Alice muttered.

“Was he flirting back?” I asked.

Alice looked thoughtful for a moment—a common look that crosses her face but often remains stuck to it once the thought has passed or imploded. “I don’t know. I think maybe a little. It’s hard to tell.”

I made up my mind then. I had for the first time met someone from Tinder—even if unintentionally. I wasn’t sure whether or not I believed in coincidence, but I knew that in a city as large, as spread-out, and as heavily populated as Houston, two people didn’t just happen upon each other in this way very often. It could have meant nothing. In fact, it probably didn’t mean a thing at all. Still, I wasn’t going to find out if I didn’t see it through.

The day of the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration 2017, Ezra spent nearly the entire day volunteering and was even the last of my volunteers to leave. To say things wouldn’t have gotten done without him—at least not as quickly as they did—would be an understatement. And at the end of it all, as he, Alice, and I watched the last U-Haul drive off carrying supplies, looking back up at Houston’s City Hall, Ezra turned his attention back us both, gave an awkward smile, and said, “Well . . . see you next year.”

“Next year?!” I shrieked as soon as he was out of earshot. “I don’t even know if I like him yet or not and I have to wait until next year to find out?”

“You could just go over there and ask him out,” Alice suggested.

Not an option.

I didn’t then nor do I feel it’s fair to ask someone out after a 12-hour volunteer shift in the splintering sun. No rational decisions could be made. Still, there was something compelling about him that I didn’t quite understand at the time. He was cute, and completely awkward and nerdy (my default type). It could have been the way that he had a playfully combative response to each and every witty thing that I said. It could have even been the dryness of his humor. Or maybe, just maybe, it was the fact that a boy put a smile on my face while I was altogether sober that I hadn’t met in a bar like so many before him.

Continue to Part II

RuPaul’s Michelle Visage Will Co-Host Halloween Contest In Montrose

RuPaul's Michelle Visage Halloween Montrose

RuPaul’s Drag Race Judge Michelle Visage Heads To South Beach, Jr’s Bar & Grill To Co-Host Halloween’s Biggest Block Party In Houston And Judge Costume Contest In South Beach

(Houston) — How could Houston’s LGBTQ+ annual Halloween block party get better? By adding a big-bosomed personality known as Michelle Visage is how! South Beach and Jr’s Bar & Grill in Montrose will welcome Michelle to co-host the annual Halloween shindig on Saturday, October 28. (Prior to Halloween.)Starting at 9:00 PM inside South Beach.

South Beach, an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Montrose has become notorious for booking the ‘best of the best’ from RuPaul’s Drag Race. The club welcomes at least one RuPaul contestant a week.

597b74912100008860fc9281-676x1024 RuPaul's Michelle Visage Will Co-Host Halloween Contest In Montrose

You probably know Michelle Visage best as the beautiful, big-bosomed sidekick to Ru Paul on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Her personality fills the screen more than the competing queens and her cascading breasts combined. Her sense of humor is bone dry and a little bit filthy, all things required in the Houston scene.

South Beach the nightclub, along with Jr’s Bar & Grill join the City of Houston, with a street closure in Montrose in the 800 Pacific Street occurring promptly at 9 PM. Drag Superstar Kofi will host the popular outdoor events that will include a Halloween costume contest.

Michelle joined RuPaul’s Drag Race for the third season and has won the hearts of the viewers and queens with her straight to the point critiques, her passion and her love for the LGBTQ+ community.

For more information visit South Beach or Jr’s Bar & Grill on their social media pages.