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2017 FACE Awards Announces Avenue 360, CBS Radio, South Beach As Sponsors

FACE AWARDS WELCOMES AVENUE 360 HEALTH & WELLNESS, SOUTH BEACH THE NIGHTCLUB, CBS RADIO AS OFFICIAL SPONSORS FOR 2017 FACE AWARDS

FACE AWARDS WELCOMES AVENUE 360 HEALTH & WELLNESS, SOUTH BEACH THE NIGHTCLUB, CBS RADIO AS OFFICIAL SPONSORS FOR 2017 FACE AWARDS

HOUSTON — LGBTQ+ Houston’s biggest award show announced today Avenue 360 Health & Wellness will sponsor the 2017 F.A.C.E. AwardsSouth Beach the Nightclub and CBS Radio Houston return as co-sponsors. The red-carpet mega event will be held Thursday, November 16, 2017, at South Beach in Montrose.

[Click here to watch the 2016 FACE Awards]

Mix 96.5 FM Morning Show hosts Sarah Pepper and Lauren Kelly will host Houston’s VMA style award show. Joining them as presenters will be a lengthy list of politicians, TV and radio personalities, and some Emmy® winners. They are expected to honor the Houston LGBT community in over 21 different categories.

Joey Guerra of the Houston Chronicle returns as host of ‘LIVE’ from the Red Carpet, a pre-show that highlights the red carpet arrivals of nominees, past winners, and community leaders starting at 7 PM and will be broadcast on social media.

“The F.A.C.E. Awards honors people in our community that have achieved something positive, it honors our Trailblazers, and allows our community to thank our Heroes.”Cade Michals, founder of the F.A.C.E. Awards said.

Now celebrating its sixth year, the F.A.C.E. Awards stands for First Achievers in Community Excellence, a yearly award show honoring Houston’s LGBTQ community. The event is attended by some 600+ LGBTQ community members that honor their peers.

Visit www.face.awards.org for more information

Houston Face Awards

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

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