Jasmine Branch, better known by her stage name as JassyB, is a Pride SuperStar contender who recently was involved in a car accident that left her with injuries to the knee.
(HOUSTON) – Every year for the last twelve years, Pride Houston, Inc. calls for singing talent from all over the city to perform in its annual Pride SuperStar singing competition. The American Idol-esque stage show is hosted every Thursday night at Rich’s Houston and is hosted by the insurmountably talented Wendy Taylor (who has competed in both Pride SuperStar and on American Idol). There, twelve performers take the stage with a microphone to match that week’s theme; and each week, contestants are eliminated. And while each contestant faces a unique set of challenges every single week, a recent automobile accident left one contestant in the hospital with injuries to her knee, which will inevitably result in a much more difficult performance at tonight’s show.
Jasmine Branch, or JassyB, is a 29-year-old Houston transplant from Louisiana who recently came to Houston with her partner ready to expand her musical following and make her dreams of being a performer come true. Only, after the aforementioned accident on Garth Rd. last week left her with some mobility issues, Jasmine will take on the challenge in a new way that none of the other performers will be forced to face.
Jasmine’s medical bills and car troubles are on a constant rise; and without the approval of a doctor stating it’s safe from a medical stand point, Jasmine is unable to work. That being said, hostess, fellow musician, and newfound friend, Wendy Taylor, has taken on the task of starting a GoFundMe fundraiser to help Jasmine take care of what she needs to not only keep her in the competition, but to make sure she gets back on her feet — literally.
Jasmine sat down to talk to About Magazine.
About Magazine: Do you want to start by telling me a little about your life in music and also about what brought you to Houston from Louisiana?
Jasmine: Well, I’ve been singing since I could talk. I have done a few shows in Louisiana; I was on TV back home; I made it through a few rounds in American Idol. I consider myself to be a pop/R&B artist. My artist name is JassyB! And that’s also my fan page name. I have a few videos on Facebook that have hit 5+ million views. I have a YouTube and an Instagram. I recently moved to Houston where I need to build a platform and fan base. My partner is the reason I traveled out here. Also because Shreveport, Louisiana is a tiny city and I felt [that] in order to grow, I needed to move to a bigger city. So it was a plus that she lived here. I am currently working on a new single “Better Without You”.
So, now that you’re performing in Pride Superstar, what have you learned so far and what do you think you’ll take away at the end?
I have learned to step out of the box and get out of my comfort zone. I have also learned to not be afraid to be myself. I am challenging myself with new songs; and I’m hoping at the end I will have met wonderful people who will not only be great friends but friends that can help benefit my future. I will also be glad that I met a few other singers because I love to surround myself with music.
Have you made some new friends through this competition?
Yes, a bunch of new friends.
So, tell me the importance of Pride to you? And how important do you think this sort of competition is to LGBTQ artists out there like yourself?
Pride is very important to me. I take it very seriously. People have died standing up for something they believe in; and that is Pride. I feel like it’s important to the LGBTQ+ community because it’s letting people know it’s okay to be who they wanna be and do what they wanna do. For instance, Ada Vox on American Idol. We are proud. We are here. We are coming out! So, I would say to any artist that is LGBTQ+: Do not be afraid, and be true to who you are!
Do you mind telling me a little about the injuries and events of the accident?
So we were getting this car from a financing company, and we have been having some problems with the car because it was pre-owned and the warranty was “as is.” We were having some problems with the brake lights and brakes. So, we were driving down Garth Rd., and a truck in front of us slammed on his breaks and we did the same and slid right into the back on the truck, completely totaling our car! I ended up at the hospital with knee pain, and they told me that my knee was fractured and dislocated. Being that I’m from Louisiana, I don’t have insurance in Texas yet, so all my expenses are gonna have to be out of pocket. Well, since I hurt my knee, I can’t work for a while being that my job is nothing but standing and walking around. I can’t stand or walk too much or lift anything heavier then 10 pounds. So, I’m also looking for a job where I can sit or do light standing.
If you could tell any other aspiring queer singers and musicians anything about going into this industry, what would that be?
Go in with an open heart and open mind. Be free and express yourself. Dress how you want. Be bold. Be beautiful. Be brave. Also, go in ready to work, because in this industry, you have to work to get where you wanna be.
As we begin our journey into June, we also foray into Pride Month. And what could be better in the heat of summer than a seaside Pride celebration just a short drive down to Galveston?
(GALVESTON) – With all the excitement in the news surrounding The Woodlands’ inaugural Pride festival and the vamped-up bustle of Pride Houston’s 40th Anniversary, it’s good to remember that all across the state of Texas, Pride festivals are prepping for action. Galveston, Texas, the island town known for its rich history and exuberant attractions, is no stranger to the LGBTQIA community. With queer bars staggered across the island and a large population of LGBTQIA people, its no wonder why Pride Galveston is hustling into its sophomore year with a three-day celebration that is certain to … well … make waves.
And though this is only the second annual Pride Galveston, its certain to be a big year with events spanning from Friday, June 8th until Sunday, June 10th. Friday brings about the annual Mr. & Miss Pride Galveston Pageant at local gay bar, 23rd St. Station at 10 PM. Saturday will consist of the annual Beach Bash at East Beach from 10 AM to 5 PM, immediately followed by the Pride Galveston Block Party (also at 23rd St. Station) from 5 PM until 10 PM. The block party will be headlined by Mykul J. Valentine and Tiffany Hunter, who will be performing along with DJ Chris Luera featuring Athenz. Once again at 23rd, Sunday will wrap up the weekend with T-Dance.
But, again, this is only Pride Galveston’s second year (and its first as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit). Before 2017, the Pride celebrations in Galveston were sparse and existed under different names, which was noted by married couple and Pride Galveston founders Jamie and Terry Fuller-Waymire, who took over for last year’s Pride. Jamie, a local DJ and promoter, and his husband Terry, who is more famously known in drag as Kiki Dion Van Wales, have put all their eggs into the proverbial basket with Pride Galveston, and the city has been there to back them up. Walgreens, Antiques Amour, Galveston.com + Co., and many more have become sponsors of Pride Galveston 2018. And because About Magazine is also an official sponsor of Pride Galveston, we got to chat with the aforementioned dynamic duo behind the big event.
About Magazine: Can you give me a brief history of Pride Galveston before you two took over?
Currently, the event is officially called Pride Galveston. Before we took over the last time it [a Pride celebration] was held was in 2013, and was under the banner of Galveston Pride. From 2009 until 2012 it was called Pride Fest. So, there was a 4-year gap when there was no official Pride celebration in Galveston. There were some informal beach events that a now-defunct local bar called Third Coast organized. The current home bar for Pride Galveston is 23rd St. Station.
What led to you taking on the challenge of taking this task on?
We wanted to revive Pride in Galveston; and it all started last year as just a beach bash and it just took off within a few months time. That is when we decided to add the block party to accommodate everyone. Some folks wanted just the beach, others wanted a block party, and many wanted both. Then the idea of a Mr. & Miss Pride Pageant was presented to us and, with our previous pageant promotion experience, this was an obvious event we needed to add. This year, of course, Pride is a 3-day event with the addition of the T-Dance on Sunday with a host of male and female dancers.
Last year was the first year the two of you ran Pride Galveston (correct me if I’m wrong). What do you think you learned from that event and what do you think you’re going to change this year?
Correct. Last year was our first go at Pride Galveston, and we learned a lot last year as I am sure we will learn a lot this year. For instance, last year the event exploded so fast that we learned to take on volunteers as often as we could. It can be a bit overwhelming organizing the pageant, the beach bash, the block party, and the T-Dance. There are so many variables involved, like DJ setup for the beach (a free event, save for parking), food organizing (which was free last year and [is] again this year), setting up the vendors and sponsors at the block party (another free event), setting up the stage, setting up the effects lighting, bringing in Porta Potties, extra trash bins, coordinating with the city on road closure and police allocation. Next year we are looking to put the block party and beach bash on different days so it’s not so overwhelming.
Since last year we have developed our websites, which both provide a wealth of information about the upcoming events on June 8, 9, & 10, 2018. The websites also allow for vendor sign-up, sponsor sign-up, pageant sign-up, and there is also a handy contact link if more information is needed.
“The greatest reward is seeing all the smiling faces of folks who are happy to see Pride back on the island.”
There are lots of events going on that are PG-related. Tell us about some of those?
Pride Galveston 2018 gets underway on Friday June 8th, 2018 with the Mr. & Miss Pride Galveston Pageant which starts at promptly at 9 PM at 23rd St. Station. The winners will reign as Mr. & Miss Pride Galveston for one year. The prize package includes a big crown for each winner, a brilliant Pride sash, category awards, future bookings with Island Diva Promotions as the reigning Mr. & Miss Pride Galveston 2018, and a cash prize as well!
Saturday June 9th, 2018, is a big day with the Beach Bash getting underway at 9 AM and running until 5 PM (an all ages event). The Beach Bash will have (from Numbers fame) DJ Houseman spinning live on the beach under the Pride Galveston canopies. We will also be serving free hotdogs under the Pride Galveston canopies and you can meet your hosts: Jamie Waymire (DJ Jamie) & Terry Fuller (Kiki Dion Van Wales). Some of our entertainers will also be present on the beach. Immediately following the Beach Bash, the Block Party gets underway at 5 PM (a free event for all ages) with live DJs Chris Luera & Athenz. We will also have some street performers present, as well as many vendors who will be selling Pride-related items, food, miscellaneous items, and services. The big show outside at the Block Party will get under way at 8 PM with our headliners, Tiffany Hunter and Mykul Valentine, both of who have won national pageant titles — royalty in the flesh! The Block Party ends at 10 PM and everything shifts inside to 23rd St. Station, which is 21 and up to get in with no cover. The back patio will have live DJs battling for the crowd, and there will be numerous roaming dancers both male and female to delight the crowd. The party at 23rd St. Station continues until 2 AM. On Sunday, June 10th, the T-Dance takes place at 23 St. Station with no cover starting at noon with free food, roaming dancers both inside and on the patio in the back. Pride concludes Sunday evening.
What is the significance of Galveston having its own Pride celebration?
We felt like the city needed its own Pride Celebration again so that our residents and tourists have a tool of empowerment which increases visibility. Our incarnation of Pride Galveston celebrates our community as a whole, not just gay, lesbian, trans, bi, queer, but our straight allies as well. We want it to be an all-inclusive celebration and feel like it is time to unite as one, rather than be divided into categories. We feel like the mission and meaning of Pride needs to evolve for the future and not be left in the past as a relic of days gone by.
How do people who want to help out volunteer to be a part of Pride Galveston?
Anyone who wishes to volunteer for Pride Galveston can go hereand we will be sure to respond ASAP. We can use all the help we can get. We learned last year that it’s very hard to do without help.
What’s the biggest challenge in throwing a Pride celebration together? What are the greatest rewards?
The biggest challenge to putting together a Pride celebration is coordination with all the people, venues, and variable involved to make it work. We work closely with the city of Galveston to make this event a success and have the support needed to complete our mission. The greatest reward is seeing all the smiling faces of folks who are happy to see Pride back on the island. We made sure all of our events were free to attend so that even those with limited income could join us. This is why sponsors are so vital! They make these events possible and free!
Safety is always a big issue and something that everyone wants to ensure. What safety measures are being taken to protect those coming to the festival?
Glad this question was asked and we have this concern covered! The Galveston Police Department will be at both entry points to the block party and will ensure a peaceful event. We also will have up fencing this year and access to the event will be strictly controlled. No firearms are allowed, and no food or beverage will be allowed in or out of the event. We will also have many volunteers help keep watch over the event.
What are you most excited about for Pride?
We are most excited to see the growth and all the smiling faces that will occur due to the event. For instance, last year we had a make-shift stage that I (Jamie) built with minimal lighting and sound. This year is much different as we have a full-on stage thanks to our friends at Stagedrop.com, a mobile dressing room complete with an AC unit for the outdoor entertainers, and full-range lighting and sound systems!
What are some ways that the community can do to help support Pride Galveston and make it a huge success?
Getting the word out the primary way to support Pride Galveston and make it an even bigger success than its first year! Volunteers, sponsors, and vendors all help to promote the event, but word of mouth in the community is key! Of course, directing those who wish to participate in some form can be directed to our Facebook Event Pageor at the previously mentioned websites.
Are there any details I’m missing that you’d like to let me everyone know?
The big change over last year is that we are now officially a non-profit entity. Last years success prompted the application with the State and subsequent approval. We are so excited about this year’s events and look forward to growing in the years to come. We even added a board member, Mr. Jon Vance, who is a local pageant promoter as well with the Continental pageant system. We have him to thank for bringing in Tiffany Hunter and Mykul Valentine. He is also a sponsor, along with his husband Dean Weir under their JD Productions banner. We hope to see everyone come out and have a blast this year!
The Woodlands, Texas, an affluent township north of Houston, is getting its very own Pride celebration and they sat down to talk to About Magazine about it first.
If you’re a native of Houston, or if you’ve been a transplant long enough to have made your rounds in and out of the metropolitan area, you probably are at least somewhat familiar with the Woodlands. Located just 30 miles from Downtown Houston, The Woodlands has been around since 1974, when oil industry investor George P. Mitchell (yes, that’s right, husband of Cynthia Woods Mitchell, the namesake of the performance pavilion) attended a conference on developing HUD Title VII towns. For Millennials who grew up in Houston and its surrounding areas, The Woodlands was sort of an escapist township – the place with the lake that had its very own animatronic monster, the place with the giant mall that had the carousel. But in the last ten years, the Woodlands has seen a boom not only in business, but in infrastructure, population, and net worth.
The Woodlands now serves as a sort of city of its own. Recently, the township has introduced new dining and shopping establishments along the coast of Lake Woodlands, introduced its very own San Antonio-esque waterway (which is still growing in terms of business), and countless new residences throughout its 43.9 sq mi spread. Spreading from the Sawdust Rd. area all the way up to Research Forest, The Woodlands is only growing continuously. And while the residents are majority Christian, right-wingers, that isn’t stopping the newly founded The Woodlands Pride (TWP) from setting up shop to the LGBTQIA community, which will be hosted on September 8th, 2018
About Magazine has the lucky fortune of running the first interview with TWP’s director of public relations, Ryan Elkins.
About Magazine: What brought about the idea to give The Woodlands its own Pride, and who came up with it?
The idea was brought up by Jason Rocha, our CEO. After a walk along the waterway, where he envisioned a Pride event, he began to make some calls and reach out to community activists in The Woodlands and surrounding areas about forming a committee to organize a Pride Festival.
With The Woodlands being a community of diversity and welcoming to people from all walks of life, The Woodlands is [now] ready and has been ready for quite some time for an event like this. [It’s] a festival to show unity, love, and support for the LGBTQIA community. The Woodlands has never given our community a fair opportunity, mostly due to the fact that the LGBTQIA community has never been presented with an event like this in the area. So we are excited to show our support for The Woodlands and surrounding areas, as we know they feel the same about us.
What can we expect from TWP? Will it be different from Pride Houston?
You can expect TWP to be different than any other pride; just as no pride event in any community is the same. We often attend Pride Houston and other events, so we hope our friends and allies in the Greater Houston Area will come and support us!
The Woodlands is a pretty conservative area of town. Are you all worried there may be some backlash from those in the community?
We are only focused on the positive and our mission. To connect, celebrate, educate and foster relationships in the LGBTQIA community while promoting equality, unity, and love in The Woodlands and beyond. We love our community. That’s why we’re here. We are looking forward to contribute and enhance why The Woodlands is so special.
What is TWP most excited about for this event?
TWP is most excited about organizing the first Pride Festival in The Woodlands! This is just the beginning of many great things to come not only for The Woodlands and surrounding areas, but for the LGBTQIA community as a whole.
I used to live in the Woodlands off Research and can attest to the fact that it feels like its own little city (and has been reported to be the fastest-growing city in the United States). Do you think that the expansion and constant growth of the Woodlands marks it time to establish your own Pride?
Absolutely. With the constant growth of The Woodlands, and the diversity of people moving here from all types of backgrounds, 2018 is the year to establish our own Pride. So, why not now?
Do you think that in years to come you’ll continue to celebrate TWP in September? What made September feel like the right time?
More than likely, we will celebrate The Woodlands Pride in September moving forward. We want to respect our neighbors to the south, Pride Houston, as well as hope for slightly cooler weather.
In the past, society has set a date or month to celebrate Pride when our community was tolerated. But now that we are accepted, everyday is Pride day!
“We are only focused on the positive and our mission. To connect, celebrate, educate and foster relationships in the LGBTQIA community while promoting equality, unity, and love in The Woodlands and beyond.”
Tell me about the team at TWP. Who should we be thanking for making all of this come to life? Are some of you new to working for Pride orgs, or are some of you seasoned in it?
TWP has an incredible group of individuals on our board of directors, and this is truly a group effort!
We have two political activists that both previously ran for office, two veteran board members for other pride organizations, and other local leaders.
Everyone brings their own strengths and valuable experience to the table that is going to make our Pride Festival on September 8th a huge success.
Who we should be thanking is The Woodlands and surrounding areas for expressing their love and support. This is a celebration for the LGBTQIA and our allies.
Are there any important details that we should know about? Dates, times, etc.?
Yes, save the date! The Woodlands Pride Festival will be on September 8th, 2018! We are still working on the minor details such as the time, before and after events, as well as fundraisers. But to receive the latest updates, follow us at ‘The Woodlands Pride’ on Facebook and Instagram. As well as @WoodlandsPride on Twitter and Snapchat.
The organization announced Lo Roberts as president and CEO after legal battle with former president, Frankie Quijano
Houston, TX — Pride Houston proudly announced Lorin “Lo” Roberts has accepted the position of president and CEO on October 1 after receiving a unanimous vote by Pride Houston’s Board of Directors in late September 2017. While the transition was not without some bumps, Pride Houston is happy to announce the appointment and looks forward to a bright future for the organization.
Lo considers herself a proud Houstonian and was honored to accept the role of Pride Houston president, as well as all of the responsibility it entails. She began volunteering with Pride eight years ago and has served on different production committees and in various leadership positions including Parade Committee co-chair, Volunteer Committee chair, and member-at-large on the Board of Directors.
“Lo was, in essence, our vice president last year,” Dan Cato, board observer and marketing director said. “She took on entirely new levels of responsibility with professionalism and grit, even dropping everything to organize a major event in less than 24 hours.”
Lo sees Houston’s diversity and its unique blend of cultures as an incredible resource and advantage and would like to see that diversity emphasized in Pride and the LGBTQIA community.
“The rights of everyone under the LGBTQIA umbrella are extremely important. But there needs to be a larger emphasis on supporting the visibility of people of color in this community. Especially the rights and lives of black trans people, who find themselves disproportionately affected by violence, homelessness, and a lack of social services.”
Lo has charged the organization by developing short- and long-term goals to convert this emphasis into action and to reinvigorate Pride’s advocacy spirit.
“The fight for equal rights in our community is just as important now as it ever has ever been, especially given the political climate in Washington D.C. It’s important to stay active in our advocacy and remember that there are many people in the world that don’t want LGBTQIA people to have their freedoms. And in a city like Houston, a city of over 2.3 million people, an organization like Pride needs to exist to serve as a mouthpiece for our people and to provide them with what they need to live happy, healthy, secure lives. But the first step to getting to that place is to create a more inclusive environment in our organization and make sure that all people within the community—black, white, Hispanic, Asian, bisexual, intersexual, trans, etc.—feel represented by Pride Houston.”
Other major objectives for the organization in the coming year include re-establishing relationships with other LGBTQIA non-profits, outreach to primary and secondary institutions of learning, relaunching scholarship programs, and devoting new resources to the health and wellness needs of the the different LGBTQIA populations that call Houston home.
About Pride Houston:
For 40 years, Pride Houston has been a central part of the local LGBTQIA community in Houston. The 2018 Houston LGBT Pride Celebration®, the fourth largest in the nation, will again be held in Downtown Houston continuing the legacy that began on the steps of City Hall in 1977 with the protest against Anita Bryant which is widely considered Houston’s “Stonewall Movement”.