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Wineding Down Season Two Premiere: Lupe Valdez

About Magazine Lupe Valdez LGBTQ Wineding Down Politics

About Magazine editor-in-chief, Anthony Ramirez, premieres the second season of his web series, Wineding Down with Anthony. 

(HOUSTON) – In the season two premiere of his web series, Wineding Down with Anthony, Anthony Ramirez talks about political mayhem, boys, and voting before sitting down with former Dallas County Sheriff, Lupe Valdez, who is currently campaigning as the LGBTQ Democratic nominee for the Texas Governorship. Watch here:

Opinion: Michelle Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

The seemingly harmless 32-year-old comic tore the Trump administration and the media to shreds with her White House Correspondents’ Dinner stand-up gig … and it was beautiful.

The White House Correspondents’ Association (you know, those people who sit in the press room of the White House shouting questions that typically go unanswered or answered falsely by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders) is treated annually with a nice dinner at the White House. The dinner is typically attended by the bulk of the administration, the president and vice president, members of the association intertwined with celebrities and other Washington big-wigs. However, in both 2017 and now 2018, Donald J. Trump has made the choice to not attend the festivities for one reason or another. In his place in 2018, Trump sent Huckabee Sanders.

The evening always boasts at least one entertainer, who in the past have included Jay Leno, Bob Hope, Wanda Sykes, Aretha Franklin, and many others. Last year, Daily Show senior correspondent, Hasan Minhaj, entertained the room, making one-liners about Trump, his staff, the turn-over rate (which even in late April of 2017 was alarmingly high), Russia, and, of course, the press. Minhaj committed himself to performing at the expense of the administration, and was widely regarded for doing so tastefully. This year, (also) Daily Show contributor/writer, Michelle Wolf, was tasked with the honor of performing … and she took no prisoners.

It was mesmerizing.

Throughout the bulk of her performance, Michelle Wolf took jabs at Donald Trump (“Trump is racist, though. He loves white nationalists, which is a weird term for a Nazi. Calling a Nazi a ‘white nationalist’ is like calling a pedophile a ‘kid friend,’ or Harvey Weinstein a ‘ladies man,’ which isn’t really fair — he also likes plants.”), Mike Pence (“Mike Pence is what happens when Anderson Cooper isn’t gay.”), Sarah Huckabee Sanders (“I loved you as Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale. Mike Pence, if you haven’t seen it, you would love it.”), the press corps (about CNN:“You guys love breaking news, and you did it, you broke it! Good work!”) and so many others. When she took the stage, it was probably a general assumption that this tiny, 32-year-old, not-that-famous comedienne from Pennsylvania was going to perform some quick burns, but that she would do so apologetically and with respect to the administration.

What’s the old saying about assuming?

Michelle took the stage and held her own. She had no problem roasting individuals who were seated before her, and even those just a few chairs from her (read: Sanders). She delivered jokes with impeccable comedic timing and proved to the entire world that she’s just as pissed about the state of our nation’s government as many of us are. And by the time the dust had settled, Michelle Wolf became a name that everyone in America would soon know.

However, much like the 2016 election, reactions to the event were … well … divided. While many liberals and anti-Trump advocates rallied around Wolf and lamented their praises, the right, the administration, as well as a great deal of the media, felt differently. Just this morning, even the White House Correspondents’ Association president, Margaret Talev, even released a statement via Twitter responding to Saturday’s monologue. In the statement, Talev outlines that the spirit of the WHCD was “not to divide people”, and went so far as to state that Wolf’s set was not in the spirit of that mission.

Screen-Shot-2018-04-30-at-4.00.13-PM Opinion: Michelle Wolf in Sheep's ClothingEven the president felt the need to take to Twitter to comment on the performance he had not even the courage to attend, stating that Wolf “bombed.” Conversely, many big-names from the left have stepped up and sworn their allegiance to Wolf, supporting her and defending her in social media battles.

Screen-Shot-2018-04-30-at-3.50.41-PM Opinion: Michelle Wolf in Sheep's ClothingScreen-Shot-2018-04-30-at-3.51.52-PM Opinion: Michelle Wolf in Sheep's ClothingScreen-Shot-2018-04-30-at-3.53.28-PM Opinion: Michelle Wolf in Sheep's ClothingScreen-Shot-2018-04-30-at-3.54.06-PM Opinion: Michelle Wolf in Sheep's ClothingScreen-Shot-2018-04-30-at-3.54.46-PM Opinion: Michelle Wolf in Sheep's ClothingYes, Michelle Wolf put on a performance that is going to be long-remembered, as well as one that will be go down in history as controversial. But why was it so controversial? It didn’t seem controversial when a scathing performance was given by the aforementioned Minhaj the year before. And while he too was met with criticism for some of his remarks by the right, the amount of blowback didn’t include a personal letter from the WHCA.

And why is it that America is so angry? (Let’s be honest, it’s mostly because she’s a liberal woman, and liberal women apparently shouldn’t have opinions … least of all express them). Wolf did her job. Not just as a comic (and it was really freaking funny), but as an American. She used the opportunity to point out through satire and rhetoric the issues that a great deal of Americans have with the administration, as well as the press (and even added to the end of her set that Flint, Michigan still doesn’t have clean water.). And while you may not often hear the words ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ being shouted throughout the halls of the White House as they were last night (then again, how can I really know that?), Wolf’s commentary was tasteful and rewarding.

Trump is racist, though. He loves white nationalists, which is a weird term for a Nazi. Calling a Nazi a ‘white nationalist’ is like calling a pedophile a ‘kid friend,’ or Harvey Weinstein a ‘ladies man,’ which isn’t really fair — he also likes plants.

—Michelle Wolf

Everyone is concerned for Sarah Huckabee Sanders and President Trump for what Wolf had to say about them; but what about what those two say to all of us on a daily basis? It’s no secret that Donald Trump is a compulsive liar. He usually gets caught in his lies, denies them, is presented with evidence, denies that, and then comes around and says, “Oh, sure. Yeah. I think that did happen. But it’s okay, because it was just me.” Huckabee Sanders does nothing to help that situation, as she conveniently holds a title that requires her to relay a great deal of those lies to the press. And the problem with the both of them? As they’re spewing bullshit to America, they’re doing so with faces that read clearly: I believe what I’m saying is true. To add insult to injury, Trump doesn’t just tell lies, he’s also a self-proclaimed sexual assailant (refer to the Billy Bush recording travesty), and talks about people—often his constituents, mind you—as if they’re not people, but pawns in his real-life game of Monopoly.

Have we so quickly forgotten how he accused Megyn Kelly of having “blood coming out of her wherever” when she chastised him for his behavior during a debate? Are we ignoring how he mocked a disabled news reporter on live TV at a rally held in South Carolina? Are we forgetting how his temper tantrums have brought us to the brink of nuclear war more times than a few? What about his proposed ban on transgender military members? What about the time he claimed that sexual assault in the military is just what happens when men and women work together? Oh, and there was that time he joked about dating his own daughter (that one still makes me cringe).

Wolf did what Wolf was there to do and she did a damn fine job doing so. The backlash she’s receiving is basically to say that we are now supposed to hold the comics in this country to a higher standard than we are the leader of the free world. And that sort of assertion is, quite frankly, ridiculous. She tackled issues that people don’t want to talk about, including the press pandering to the president for ratings and money.

Wolf wasn’t what the crowd was expecting that night at the WHCD … and thankfully so. Whether you like what she had to say about the president, his administration, or the press, Wolf showed up and did her job the way that a comedian is supposed to (and much unlike the president’s record has proven, she did so without insulting the image or body of a single woman). When is the Trump administration going to show up to do their jobs the way they’re supposed to?

You can watch Michelle’s full remarks here.

Queer Houston, We Have a Problem

endorse lupe valden jenifer rene pool

What the actual heck is the GLBT Political Caucus thinking?

(HOUSTON)—Over the weekend, the Houston GLBT Political Caucus announced its long-winded list of endorsements for the 2018 primary elections, which are now only one month away (March 6th, 2018). The list, which consists of 60 names—59 Democrats and 1 Republicanhosts some notable names, from Beto O’Rourke to Fran Watson and beyond. However, it also is missing a couple of not only recognizable, but very important names in two very important slots.

Jenifer Rene Pool for the Texas House of Representatives and Lupe Valdez for governor. Why do these names matter? Well, for one, Pool was the president of Houston’s GLBT Political Caucus from 2006 until 2008. And then there’s the fact that she was also the first trans person to ever win a primary election in Texas in 2016 (although, she was defeated in November). As for Valdez, well, she made history by being one of the first democrats elected to office in Dallas in 2004 after a long span of time, and by being the only Latina sheriff in the entire nation elected and serving in 2004. Now, as their political candidacies are just a month shy of votes that could disconcert the Texas political establishment, Houston’s GLBT Political Caucus has pulled a very Texas-fitting move by endorsing straight, white men rather than these two queer women.

A little more background on these two women:

Jenifer-Rene-Pool-1 Queer Houston, We Have a ProblemJenifer Rene Pool is more than just a trans womanshe’s a successful businesswoman and advocate who not only has been appointed to the Buildings and Standards Commission, the Police Advisory Commission, the Task Force on Buildings and Standards, the Special Task Force on Film in Houston, the Houston Police Advisory Committee, but has also served thoroughly and actively in the LGBTQIA community for decades and owns her own consulting firm. In 2016 (as aforementioned), Pool became the first trans person to ever win a primary election in the state of Texas, beating opponent Erik Hassan for the Harris County Commissioner’s Court, District 13 seat by a staggering margin. Pool pulled in 78.28% of the votes. Hassan, on the other hand, reeled in only 21.72%. In November, Pool lost the seat to Republican candidate Steve Radack, but by a much smaller margin than Hassan had lost to her in the primary. Radack won with approximately 58%, leaving pool with about 42%. Now, Pool is running for the Texas House of Representatives, heavily emphasizing the repair of infrastructure, implementing comprehensive flood protection, reforming education to a quality standard, and so much more.

TLMD_LUPE_VALDEZ-e1517945975587-300x229 Queer Houston, We Have a ProblemLupe Valdez has served as a captain in the US Army, and has also worked as a federal agent. She served as Sheriff of Dallas County from 2004 until just last year. Valdez’s work in the federal government involved investigating fraud in the country, as well a crime corps outside the country. As the sheriff, she spent a great deal of time reforming prisons that were understaffed and overpopulated. Her advocacy for inmates extended even further, however, seeking better care for prisoners suffering mental illness. As mentioned before, Valdez was one of a handful of LGBTQIA elected public servants serving over the course of her career as sheriff; and when she began in 2004, she was the only Latina in the entire country to hold the title of sheriff. Now, Valdez is running for governor. Valdez is running on higher minimum wages, equal pay, affordable college educations, affordable healthcare, more and better public transit options, and raising the standard of education.

Unarguably, these are two strong political candidates. Right? And they just so happen to identify as LGBTQIA. Still, Pool and Valdez aren’t the only two LGBTQIA candidates running for office. In fact, there are almost fifty queer people running in Texas alone. Certainly, they can’t all win. Still, that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be given the opportunity to win.

Jennifer-Rene-Pool-e1312640557522-225x300 Queer Houston, We Have a ProblemI’m a staunch believer that we shouldn’t elect queer people just because they’re queer. I wouldn’t be electing Caitlin Jenner just because she’s trans. She’s also a Republican who endorsed Donald Trump. Not quite my cup of tea. However, among those near-fifty candidates that we’re talking about, nearly all are running on the Democratic ticket and are talking about issues that matter to the LGBTQIA community. After all, when it comes down to it, we’re concerned about the same things that cis and straight people are. We just want to be safe and afforded the same opportunities. But more than anything, what the community needs right now and more than ever is representation. Rare is the occasion that any given person is going to agree with each and every political stance taken by any given politician; but even rarer—especially in the LGBTQIA community—is the opportunity to be represented by a majority of politicians. We’re a community of minorities that converges like a Venn Diagram with other minority groups. We’re made up of gay people, trans people, bisexual people, black people, Hispanic people, Jewish people, Asian people, disabled people, veterans, asexuals, the non-binary, and so many more. Unlike the representation we see in our government—especially so in our state’s government—we are more than just white, cisgender, straight, male faces. So, why is that so much of what we’re seeing? And more importantly, why are those the faces that the Houston GLBT Political Caucus is endorsing over queer trans women or queer women of color? 

Screen-Shot-2017-12-06-at-6.20.19-AM_1512562828089_11882921_ver1.0-300x225 Queer Houston, We Have a ProblemThough it was reported in 2017 that Congress is now composed of 19% nonwhite individuals, there are only seven people who identify as LGBTQIA currently serving—less than 2%. Worse still? Only one of those 7 is a nonwhite person. So, if we take this information into consideration, and if we bother to ask why in 2018 we’re still seeing a giant lack of representation in our national and state government systems, it is equally important to ask why the Houston GLBT Political Caucus is endorsing straight, cisgender, white men in place of a strong trans woman and a Latin lesbian. Both of these women have worked tirelessly over the course of their political careers to ensure safety for the LGBTQIA community and who want to bring their voices—our voices—to Austin to make effective change.

As someone told me lately, “If the Caucus ain’t gonna support you [queer people], who will?”

To hear the Caucus’s new and sitting president tell it, as reported to MyStatesman, “We absolutely, positively wanted to endorse Lupe, but she didn’t do as well as we would have liked in the interview.” But that doesn’t quite seem like a good enough excuse. When it comes down to politics, the public eye never leaves a politician, especially not in the current era of 24-hour news coverage. A politician’s reliability, their credibility, and their flat-out ability to do the job aren’t solely based on one interview. They’re based on what work the candidate in question has done to effect change in the community. And neither Pool nor Valdez has carried out a career lacking said efficacy. Moreover, their careers—possibly even somewhat stunted due to their LGBTQIA statuses—have not come without pressures that their candidates have never had to face. As women—one trans and one cis—and as members of this community, both of these ladies have jumped hurdles to assume and maintain the positions they’ve fought tirelessly for to protect the well-being of other people. And, let’s be honest, these are both women of a certain age. That’s not a jab at them—that’s a jab at the times in which they’ve had to be unafraid and unabashed in order to make the strides they’ve made to get to where they are. Their political lives have had to shatter more glass ceilings than many in politics can ever imagine having existed.


andrew-white-300x201 Queer Houston, We Have a Problem
Andrew White, who won the Caucus’s governor endorsement over Valdez

And, as a community of mixed voices—gay, bi, trans, non-binary, lesbian, black, Asian, Hispanic, and more—we need heroes that are comfortable being uncomfortable to stand up, sword and shield in hand, to say no to the assholes in Austin who seek to shove us back into the holes we’ve worked so hard to wiggle our way out of. No more bathroom bills. No more denying us spousal benefits for city employees. No more revoking our right to marry. No more refusal to change gender markers. We need leaders whose voices reflect the people who are underserved—and we are the underserved. I’m not sorry to say that I don’t need a straight, white, cisgender man making decisions for my big, fat, gay life, just like our trans brothers and sisters don’t need one making decisions for them, and just like our lesbian sisters don’t need them making decisions for them, and just like our non-binary siblings don’t need them making decisions for them. We all need a voice that sounds a bit more like ours—a perspective that has been shaped by adversity and experience.

adam-e1517946106222-300x297 Queer Houston, We Have a Problem
Adam Milasincic, who won the endorsement over Pool.

With that said, I’m not sure what the Houston GLBT Political Caucus was thinking when they made these decisions. No offense to Andrew White or Adam Milasincic, the men endorsed in place of Pool and Valdez. Their resumes are impressive, but they’ve also lived lives of white boy privilege. If we’re going to continue talking about draining the swamp and equality and reclaiming our time and nevertheless persisting, our community and the organizations and caucuses that self-proclaim to represent the politics of our best interests need to recognize that it’s time to stop endorsing straight, white, cisgender men in lieu of people who have walked down the roads we have. As someone told me lately, “If the Caucus ain’t gonna support you [queer people], who will?”

Houston GLBT Political Caucus, shame on you. Shame on you for not supporting our trans sister and our sister of color. Sure, they may seem like the underdogs right now. But isn’t that what all of us in this community are? The underdogs? Isn’t that what all of your sitting board members were at some point? But in 2018—a year into a presidency of pussy-grabbing, trans military-banning, and wall-building—you need to be setting the example that even the underdog deserves a chance to shine. You need to be elevating our people and putting them on a pedestal and telling not only these candidates, but the world, “Yes. You can do this. You are the best person to represent our community.” And you have failed in doing that here. As happy as I am that you have endorsed many candidates that I think are going to go out there and use their voices to do great things for us, I am so disappointed in you for discouraging two strong, fierce-as-fuck women when you had the chance to expose them to people who need to know they’re out there fighting for us.

Shame on you.

And queer Houstonians, yes, we have a problem. But we are the only people who have the power to fix that problem. So, on March 6th, get up, go out, and vote. Vote for the queer people on the ballot—no matter who has or has not endorsed them. Make your voices heard. Because the louder that we shout, the more of us that show up, the harder we fight back to be heard and seen and to live an equal and happy life, the more the world will change for the better.


Exclusive: An Interview with Fran Watson

Houston’s very own Fran Watson, an LGBTQ state senate candidate, sits down to answer questions exclusively for About Magazine

(HOUSTON) The state of Texas has over 50 officials running for office during the 2018 election cycle. But none have quite the resume that Houston’s very own Fran Watson has. The family and estate-planning attorney has served as the president of the Houston GLBT Caucus, the Harris County Democratic Party’s Resolutions Chair, and has been honored by the Houston Business Journal, Pride Houston, Young Black Voices, the University of Houston Downtown’s Pre-Law Association, and countless other organizations, including About Magazine’s FACE Awards as Volunteer of the Year. Now, Watson is running for State Senate; and she gave an exclusive interview to About Magazine’s editor-in-chief, Anthony Ramirez.

fran2-300x240 Exclusive: An Interview with Fran WatsonTell me a little about what this city means to you, being that you are a Houston-native. What are your favorite parts about it? 

I love Houston. Some of my greatest and saddest moments occurred in this city. I love that it is the fourth largest city in the country, yet everyone in Houston is connected some way. It’s the biggest small town that I know. I love the parks and I love the weather—fall in Houston is quite beautiful. This is my city.

fran1-300x263 Exclusive: An Interview with Fran WatsonWhat did you see growing into your adult self here in the city that inspired you to make this political run? 

Access is not being granted to everyone. Working to keep the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) by speaking up at city hall and getting to know so many people, politically and socially, has taught me a lot about people’s lives and the ways that the lack of protections can negatively impact someone. As President of Montrose Grace Place from 2014-2017, a drop-in Center for homeless youth of all sexualities and gender identities, I saw what happens when people do not have access to a safe home. We must work to change this. I learned that when people come together, change can happen. The upcoming election—both the primary and our November election—is an opportunity for people to come together to make change.

I know that your life has not been one without its share of misfortune. You lost your mother quite young, you were temporarily disabled due to breaking both your legs, and you’ve presumably been faced with the adversities that many POC, LGBTQ women are faced with. Was there one galvanizing moment in your life that really made you want to help others through politics? 

When I broke my legs, I did a lot of reflection at home, and I swore that when I could walk again, I was going to talk to more people. The first few people I talked to—Christina Gorczynski, Paul Guillory, and others—were very active in the LGBT community. I was also helping my friend (and now law partner), Jerry Simoneaux, with his campaign. From there, I got involved in politics and quickly expanding my network and community of politically-engaged Houstonians. I went from helping with the Creating Change Conference alongside 100 people to joining 300 people to fight for equal protections through HERO. I went from volunteering at the polls for the Houston GLBT Caucus to leading the organization as the first black woman president from January 2016 – August 2017.

Your volunteerism and outreach inspire so many people to get involved and to do whatever they can to make a difference. Was there a person like that in your life (or people) that inspired you to be this sort of superhero?

fran3-300x225 Exclusive: An Interview with Fran Watson

Aww. I’m not superhero. I always say that I got started a little late and now I am tagging in. I think this was because of the people in the communities and my becoming enlightened by the issues faced by those I have had the opportunity to serve. When Jerry took me to club meetings and I would hear about ways to help, I just stepped in when I could. I tend to get energy from the people I am around, and witnessing people use their time to help move the world forward inspires me to do what little I can. This is why I have surrounded myself with so many great people for my campaign. I have now assembled a powerful team to run this campaign. It includes six women of color who are managing the details from Communications to volunteer coordination to political advising. People are willing to give up their time and offer their expertise because we all know that we can do better for the people of Texas.

Your slogan is, “People First.” Tell me more about how that came about. 

My brilliant friend, Evan O’Neil, who is also the Digital Director on the campaign, recognized that “People First” truly captured my campaign goals. When we were talking about what my priorities are and why I was running, I kept repeating that it has always been about the people. I work with many communities. I believe we should all show up for one another, because, as Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer would say, “Nobody is free till everybody is free.” We need to re-shift the focus back to the people of Texas because everyone should have equal access to opportunity. Two weeks later, there was a Texas logo with silhouettes of Texans and the slogan People First.

Looking at your stances on the issues, it seems pretty cut-and-dry that you’re just looking out for what is going to help people—from healthcare to education to social justice and much more. Given that we’re in such a state of political discourse all the time, it seems, why do you think so many Republican politicians (read: the Trump administration) aren’t capable of doing the same?

fran4-300x225 Exclusive: An Interview with Fran WatsonUnfortunately, political ideology has gotten in the way of progress. When a few people control most of the resources and there is a perceived threat of loss, those in control can and will change the rules of the game to ensure the control remains with them. For instance, there was a time when small government and local control were consistently spoken by the Republican party. However, the actions of this last legislative session led by a Republican controlled legislature attempted (with some success) to usurp the power from local government. The rules have changed. As my pastor says, “Follow the money.”

Tell me how you’d like to improve the lives of the people in the LGBTQIA community. 

First and foremost, it will fight for statewide nondiscrimination protections and an administrative mechanism for gender marker changes, so all Texans are included in our society. And I will work to ensure inclusive access to healthcare, including HIV healthcare. Because LGBTQIA people are part of every community, I will work to making sure that we focus on access to a strong public education and economic empowerment. I have been serving the LGBTQIA community for some time, and hope that in office I can continue to serve by shifting the direction of state policy. Previously, I have served as part of the LGBT Law Section of the State Bar of Texas, as Board President of Montrose Grace Place, and in so many other capacities in which I am always an openly lesbian community leader. I know that by being visible, I am a role model for others who would like to lead the state of Texas towards a more inclusive future.

If you could go back and tell your teenage self something to help guide you to this point with a little more ease, what would that be?

Don’t be afraid to talk to people. Find a mentor who has navigated these spaces. I would tell myself to hang in there, that the difficult times will teach you to fight for what you believe in and if you stick it out, it is possible to win. That people will support you. I would let myself know that I would meet an amazing, beautiful, supportive, and brilliant spouse named Kim Watson.

“I love houston … this is my city

Many people don’t like to vote straight democrat or straight republican. Who else should we be looking out for in the elections this year? 

Well, I am going to tell folks to vote for the Democrats and encourage folks to vote Straight Ticket Democrat, because this is the last election where we are going to have straight ticket voting. However, there are other parties that are going to be on the ballot. For the March Primary—and early voting starts on February 20th—people will vote in the Democrat or Republican primary, because you are essentially picking your party’s nominee for the general election in November. For the November election, there will be additional party candidates including those from the Green Party and Libertarians. There will also be independent candidates. The ballot will be full this year as there are many important judicial races that are up, including the Family and Probate Courts which have a direct impact on people lives, not the least of all LGBT families.

Who are some of the women (or people) in politics that have inspired you?

Women who make the decision to run for office to make equitable change is inspiring to me. There are so many great women representing us at the local, state and federal level, it is hard to single anyone out. Of course, we have the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Judge Ramona Franklin, Former Mayor Annise Parker. Watching Senator Sylvia Garcia in Austin this past legislative session was absolutely inspiring. I could go on, but these are all women ready to fight for what they believe in and I can identify with that. I believe in putting people first in Texas.

What can we say about Fran Watson that we haven’t been able to say about politicians of past? What is it that makes you the stand-out?

She is a product of the people. All the people. Her moves are the people’s moves. And Fran Watson is a black lesbian candidate prepared to do an outstanding job representing Senate District 17.

I know it’s a little bit in the future, but if this goes well (and we think it will) what do you have planned next? Fran-Watson-300x225 Exclusive: An Interview with Fran Watson

I didn’t have this planned until I got fed up with how Texans were being treated. I saw that mistreatment over-and-over in when I spent my time speaking up in Austin this past legislative session. Like the people who are supporting my campaign, I am ready for change! That said, one issue I care about is higher education and access. I believe the state government should re-regulate tuition at colleges and universities. Higher tuition fees, which are consistently climbing, are pricing Texans out of a college education. For students, including so many first-generation college students, they are having to borrow more money to pay the increasing rates, which leaves students, especially students of color, in large amounts of debt upon graduation. We must look at how we can make public post-secondary education affordable, so Texans can have access. Also, as I’ve mentioned, reproductive health should be on our agenda in Texas, especially with such high maternal mortality rates in our state. We need to be talking about the larger context of health and wellness. Inclusive healthcare which includes HIV care and abortion access is vital. Instead of passing laws that regulate the bodies of women and other people who may become pregnant, leaders in government would focus on breaking down systems of inequity and creating pathways of access for communities to be on a level playing field for success. For me, I plan to work towards economic empowerment for all communities. That’s why non-discrimination protections, equal pay for equal work, a living wage, and health care—these are the things that help to break the cycle of poverty. That’s what I will be fighting for in Austin.

Lastly, if you could tell LGBTQIA kids, or adults even, anything to give them hope in a time where hope is running short, what would that be?

That there is a bench being built of people who have felt the hurt and are working hard to change things. There are nearly 50 LGBTQ people running for office. In Texas! And as a community, we will get through this. Because we always do. Because as long as we continue to have each other’s back we are moving towards a more inclusive society. I have been inspired by the support of those around me and that’s what makes it possible for me to fight.

To learn more about Fran and to donate to her campaign visit her website here.

Primary elections are March 6th, 2018 with early voting beginning February 20th. You can register to vote here.