Men Having Babies executive director, Ron Poole-Dayan, talks his nonprofit, surrogacy, and … well … babies!
Beginning Friday, March 2nd, and going through the weekend, the now-national nonprofit, Men Having Babies, is bringing their traveling conference to Austin. The nonprofit hosts these expos in numerous cities from San Francisco to NYC to Brussels and beyond. MHB not only assists in the process of educating and helping gay male couples start families through surrogacy, but also aids them in the financing of their family-planning. Now here in Texas for their current expo, MHB executive director, Ron Poole-Dayan answered some of our questions about their organization, what they do, how they started, and what couples seeking to start families can expect from MHB.
Let’s start by learning a bit more about how MHB came about to begin with
The origins of the organizations date back to 2005 when I asked the LGBT Center in New York City to create a monthly workshop for men who are interested in biological parenting. We began having monthly meetings, which we still have to this day, where we invited in people who could answer our questions. Over time a few men joined me to help facilitate the meetings, and that later became our first board. We organized our first modest seminar and someone suggested calling it “Men Having Babies.”
In 2012, we left the NYC LGBT Center and created an independent nonprofit organization, primarily since we wanted to create a financial assistance program, which was beyond the Center’s mission. Over time we started having larger events, and also in new locations: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Barcelona, Chicago, Dallas, Tel Aviv, Brussels, and this year adding Austin and Miami. The program has evolved to a two-day format with many more sessions, speakers, and topics. Now we are consistently attracting packed auditoriums, and many of the attendees fly from far away to attend the conferences. Our membership now includes over 6500 future and current gay parents worldwide.
What’s the main draw to surrogacy v. adoption?
I have my own insights, but actually just recently a study came out by a team from several universities (including Columbia from NY and Cambridge from the UK) about “Gay fathers’ motivations for and feelings about surrogacy as a path to parenthood.” In fact, MHB assisted in recruiting a large part of the parents who participated in the study. The short answer is that, “most fathers chose surrogacy because they considered adoption to be a less desirable and/or accessible path to parenthood.”
Adoption may be considered as less desirable due to the challenges associated with the process (often private adoptions where the birth mother gets to choose the adoptive parents, subjecting us to scrutiny and approval by agencies or even teen mothers from middle America), or with the more difficult parenting challenges associated with older or special needs adopted children. And of course there is the universal desire for genetic offspring. In short: gay men choose surrogacy over adoption, if they can afford it, for the same reasons heterosexual parents (who can even more easily adopt) choose biological parenting over adoption.
Having said this, it is important to stress that MHB does not advocate for surrogacy over adoption. In fact, some of our conferences — including the Austin one — feature adoption agencies alongside surrogacy resources. We just want to help the men make an informed decision about their path, and empower them to take that path in the most effective, mindful and affordable way.
We are gay parents and surrogates who got together to make the dream of parenthood a wider reality to more gay men — and in the process we believe we make society a better place for all of us.
What’s the success rate of MHB, as far as couples who actually make it to the finish line?
We know from feedback that many of our members become parents, but we do not track every single conference attendee — so we do not have the statistics. In general, I can tell you that once people actually embark on the journey — namely engage an IVF clinic to make embryos and an agency to match them with a surrogate — the vast majority have children. Indeed, surrogacy, while expensive, has higher success rates than adoption, and even heterosexual reproduction. We use technology that was developed for infertile people, with medically optimized gestational carriers and egg donors. It works and it is safe.
You are a father of a child of surrogacy, I’m told. What was this process like for you and your family
We did it many years ago, our twins are 17-years-old. We just assumed it should be possible, and luckily knew someone who knew someone that helped us find a lawyer in Boston who knew how to find a surrogate. We had very little guidance and resources, which is why I felt so strongly that something like MHB is needed.
How did MHB begin helping with the financial side of surrogacy?
As mentioned, our concern about the fact that surrogacy is beyond the [financial] reach of most people was a major motivation for establishing the organization. We knew that if we truly wanted to make a difference, we had to help people financially achieve the dream of having a family. We wanted to give this opportunity to people who would otherwise not be able to afford surrogacy.
The first thing we did was to create the “Surrogacy Advisor”— a directory and ratings table for agencies and clinics populated by hundreds of actual reviews from parents who went through the process. The goal was to promote transparency and affordability by empowering prospective parents with unbiased reviews and statistical data on satisfaction levels, success measures, and real cost figures. This allowed future parents to save thousands of dollars by identifying affordable, effective providers they would otherwise not have heard about.
But the major achievement is the creation of the Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP), which for the last four years has gotten to the point that it annually provides dozens of prospective parents with over a million dollars worth of cash grants, discounts, and free services from more than fifty leading service providers.
Do you think that the importance of your nonprofit has increased in the recent political climate?
Of course. And, in particular, helping gay men form their families would contribute not just to their happiness, but it also drives much social change. Gay men with kids are extremely visible and help many people see us for who we are, human beings who want happiness like everyone else. And the surrogates who help us are all effective social change agents, as they become outspoken about equality — often in small middle-America communities.
If you could tell everyone in the world one thing about the services MHB offers or something that you feel they just really need to know, what would that be?
Due to biological and social constraints, gay men as a category face the most obstacles in their quest for parenting, not the least of which is financial. Until MHB was established, there was not a single organization to assist gay men, who are not considered “infertile” even though they need substantial third party assistance in order to become parents. At MHB, we believe that when done correctly, surrogacy can be a positive, affirmative, and all-around empowering arrangement for everyone involved – and we are very active in creating ethical and practical guidelines to facilitate this. We are gay parents and surrogates who got together to make the dream of parenthood a wider reality to more gay men — and in the process we believe we make society a better place for all of us.
If you’re going to be in the Austin area this weekend, you can register for the expo and conference here.
FILM REVIEW: LGBTQ Movie ‘Brotherly Love’
A review of Anthony J. Caruso’s LGBTQ film shot in Austin, TX, Brotherly Love.
(AUSTIN) – At nearly two hours, Anthony J. Caruso’s slow-paced film, Brotherly Love, feels a bit long; some of the characters might be seen as negative stereotypes; and yet there’s something oddly likable about this low budget indie, shot on location in Austin with a local cast.
Auteur Caruso stars as Brother Vito, a young gay man torn between his life with his gay friends and the vows of poverty and celibacy he’s about to take as a brother with the Catholic church. As the story opens, Vito, who lives in a monastery, still goes out cruising with his gay best friend Tim (Chance McKee). Vito desperately wants to jump into the car of the hot man who’s checking him out, but he stops himself, thinking of his upcoming vows. He goes to the White Party with Tim, where he feels out of place.
Vito doesn’t know what to do. He genuinely loves God and the church, but also loves his former life. He seeks counselling from Sister Peggy (June Griffin Garcia), a friendly, understanding nun, who thinks that Vito needs to get away for awhile so he can think things over. Vito is driven halfway across the country to spend the summer living and working in a halfway house for people with AIDS. There he meets Gabe (Derek Babb), a friendly, lonely landscaper who immediately takes a liking to Vito. The attraction is quite mutual, with Vito once again feeling torn between his love for the church and his natural desires. Will Vito remain true to his vows, or will he give in to Gabe’s not-to-subtle come-ons? The two are obviously falling in love, despite Vito’s pretending otherwise.
Vito and Gabe make for a hot, sweet couple. Actors Caruso and Babb have great onscreen chemistry, with Babb giving a particularly fine performance as a man who cannot live without love in his life. We learn that Gabe was once married.
“Now I have an ex-wife who hates me, a mother who cries whenever she talks to me and a father who fired me from the family business,” Gabe says sadly. Babb expertly conveys the emotions of the sweet, loving Gabe, who knows that he and Vito would be perfect for each other, if only Vito would open his eyes. Caruso is also quite good as he battles his mixed emotions.
Other aspects of the film don’t work quite as well. Chance McKee, as gay best friend Tim, appears to be a good actor, but his role is written as a stereotype. Tim is an over-the-top queen–he’s too over-the-top to be believable. He’s loud and brash, and talks endlessly about parties, clothes, and hot guys. We never learn who Tim is, all we’re told is that he likes to party a lot.
At one point Vito and Gabe meet a friendly lesbian couple, one of whom is an ex-nun who left the church to be with the woman she loves. That woman turns out to be a character who makes Tim seem tame in comparison. She’ll do anything for attention–after Sunday church services she smears chocolate cake on her face and laughs hysterically. It’s embarrassing to see a middle-aged woman carrying on like that. This character is a victim of bad writing–less would have been more.
Another flaw in the film is that the AIDS house where Vito is supposed to be working is presented as an afterthought. Vito shows up and meets the residents, who talk about Barbra Streisand a lot. With one exception, the house residents are not seen again until the end of the film. At no time during the film is Vito shown doing the work he was sent to the house to do–he spends the entire film with Gabe. How did the church elders and the house residents feel about that?
While far from a perfect film, Brotherly Love still entertains due to the terrific chemistry between Caruso and Babb. The burgeoning love story between these characters is sweet and romantic, and their scenes together are well written. They make Brotherly Love worth checking out. The fact that both men are nice to look at is an added plus.
Breaking Glass Picture’s DVD of Brotherly Love includes the film’s theatrical trailer and a lively commentary track from Caruso. You can purchase the film on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon. Visit its official Facebook page and Breaking Glass’s Picture’s website.
The Men Having Babies SOUTH Surrogacy Conference & Expo is coming to Austin
After two successful events in Dallas, our 3rd Texas conference will be offered in Austin on March 3-4, 2018. It will offer gay men from Texas and beyond step-by-step guidance in their parenting journey, access to two dozen service providers from the USA and Canada, and information about financial assistance.
AUSTIN, TEXAS – Men Having Babies (MHB) is a non-profit organization, led by parents and surrogates, that has helped thousands of gay men worldwide become biological parents since 2012.
Our Austin conference is one of six annual conferences held by Men Having Babies worldwide (menhavingbabies.org/south), with other conferences taking place in Chicago, Miami/Fort Lauderdale, Brussels, New York and San Francisco.
This two-day conference brings together medical and legal experts, current and future parents, and surrogate mothers. Prospective parents will benefit from practical and personal peer advice, and have opportunities to meet a wide range of leading providers from the USA and Canada at the Gay Parenting Expo, in breakout sessions and in private consultations.
“Similar to other conferences, this one draws people from far beyond the Austin area,” said Ron Poole-Dayan, Executive Director of Men Having Babies. “Among the dozens who have already registered are gay men from all parts of Texas, several states across the south and west, and even attendees from the East Coast who prefer not to wait for our Florida and NY conferences.”
The conference kicks off with a panel discussion comprised of gay surrogacy dads and the surrogates who helped them in their journeys. Two workshops will be offered on planning the surrogacy journey and a mindful look at surrogacy, based upon the accumulated knowledge of hundreds of gay men who have already gone through the process. Other sessions will cover the latest studies about gestational surrogacy, and insurance, budgeting, legal, medical and psychological aspects of surrogacy.
Proceeds from sponsorship and exhibiting fees will benefit MHB’s Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP), which annually provides dozens of prospective parents with over a million dollars’ worth of cash grants, discounts and free services from more than fifty leading service providers. The majority of the exhibitors at the Austin conference are supporters of GPAP, including platinum sponsors Simple Surrogacy and Fertility Center of Texas, as well as Gold sponsors: Worldwide Surrogacy Specialists, San Diego Fertility Center, Circle Surrogacy, Western Fertility Institute, CReATe Fertility Centre, and Family Source Consultants.
Over the last four years, GPAP has helped more than 500 couples and individuals achieve their goals of becoming fathers. “If we truly wanted to make a difference by establishing Men Having Babies, we knew we had to help prospective parents financially achieve their dream of starting a family, and the GPAP program does just this,” said Anthony Brown, MHB’s Board Chair. “We want to give the opportunity to people who would otherwise not be able to afford surrogacy”.
“Simple Surrogacy is Honored to be the Platinum Sponsor of Men Having Babies Austin Conference,” said Kristen Hanson, Executive Director of Finance and Contracts of Simple Surrogacy. “As one of the earliest supporters of the MHB Gay Parenting Assistance Program, we are delighted to see its growth. We feel very lucky to be a part of Men Having Babies’ continued stewardship in creating families!”
“We are honored to participate in the Austin MHB conference as it provides an excellent opportunity to share information on the path to fatherhood.” Said Dr. Jerald Goldstein, Founder and Medical Director at Fertility Specialists of Texas. “As a fertility center, we strive to provide intended parents with the expertise and resources, including financial assistance, that can help make this dream a reality.”
The event will take place on March 3rd, 3:30 p.m. – 8 p.m., and March 4, 9:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. at the Austin Marriott South. In addition, MHB is offering a post-conference happy hour party at Austin’s Sellers Underground bar on Saturday, March 3, 8:30-10:30pm. The event is offered in cooperating with local and national LGBT organizations, and is open to the Austin LGBT community at large.
Go to menhavingbabies.org/south for registration and additional information.
Note: while the event is organized by a gay parenting organization, non-gay prospective parents are also welcome and will no doubt highly benefit from the information provided.
Press inquiries: Contact Ron Poole-Dayan, executive director of Men Having Babies firstname.lastname@example.org / 646-461-6112. Interviews with parents, prospective parents, surrogates and experts can be arranged by request.
About Men Having Babies
With over 6500 future and current gay parents worldwide, the international nonprofit Men Having Babies (MHB) is dedicated to providing its members with educational and financial support. Each year over a thousand attendees benefit from unbiased guidance and access to a wide range of relevant service providers at its monthly workshops and conferences in NY, Chicago, Brussels, San Francisco, Dallas, Austin, Miami / Fort Lauderdale, and Tel Aviv. The organization’s Gay Parenting Assistance Program(GPAP) annually provides dozens of couples with over a million dollars worth of cash grants, discounts and free services from over fifty leading service providers. Collaborating with an advisory board made of surrogates, MHB developed a framework for Ethical Surrogacy that has received endorsements from several LGBT parenting organizations worldwide. In addition, MHB offers extensive online resources, a directory with ratings and reviews of agencies and clinics, a Surrogacy Speakers Bureau, and a vibrant online community forum.
Fran Watson Gets Influential Senate Endorsements
Tejano Democrats and Houston Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America Endorse Fran Watson for State Senate
(HOUSTON, TX) – Candidate for Texas State Senate (District 17) today received the endorsement of the Tejano Democrats and the Houston Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.
The Harris County Tejano Democrats, seek full representation of Hispanics at all levels of government. This includes screening, endorsing and supporting candidates who best represent Democratic principles and Hispanic interests. The Houston Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America announced their support of Watson. The group aims to support an open democratic process. With their members they build and support progressive movements for social change in Houston.
“I am honored to receive these important endorsements. Both of these groups fight to ensure fairness and equality in our city, which are cornerstones of my campaign. I’m proud to have support from such community-centered groups as our campaign prepares for the March 6th primary.” said Watson. “I am running for office so that I can head to Austin and put the people first. These endorsements matter to me because I value community groups that can help me on my mission to improve the lives of those that live in Senate District 17, in our city and in our state”
More about Fran:
Fran Watson is an attorney, certified mediator, and one of the founding partners of Simoneaux & Watson, P.C., a Houston based law firm that focuses on protecting the legacy of families through estate planning and estate administration. She is also a well-respected community leader who has a passion for equality and believes everyone deserves a life of dignity, equal access, and fair treatment.
Fran has served in leadership at the local, state, and national level in organizations and committees whose missions align with those beliefs. She has won several awards including being named a 40 under 40 Honoree by the Houston Business Journal and Public Citizen of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers in Houston. Fran also served as the 2016 Houston Pride Female Grand Marshal. She is a lifelong Houstonian, and earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Houston-Downtown and her law degree from TSU’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law.
For more informaiton, you can visit Fran’s website.
About Adds New Editors, New Business
2018 Will Bring New Editors Into About Magazine, About Editions, The Magazine’s Publishing Company.
(HOUSTON) – In addition to its new trans-specific content page, About Magazine will be adding two new editors to its staff in 2018. The first of which is Jessica Olsen, who will serve as the assistant editor for About Magazine under editor-in-chief, Anthony Ramirez. The second of which will be Ian Townsley, who will serve as the associate editor for About’s trans-content page, About Trans. Additionally, Ramirez’s publishing company, Black Magic Media, will be absorbed by About Magazine in December. The new publishing company will be a branch of About Magazine, called About Editions.
Olsen has worked with Ramirez at Black Magic Media as the editor of fiction. Her responsibilities will include content editing and generating creative ideas for new content. Though not LGBTQIA herself, Olsen is an avid supporter of LGBTQIA rights and an ally to the entire community.
Townsley is an outspoken advocate for the trans community who hosts support groups at the Montrose Center and local churches around Houston. He is also a drag king who performs in and puts on numerous benefits to serve the trans community in obtaining gender-affirmative surgery. Additionally, he has taken on the endeavor of helping trans people legally change their gender status. Syder-Blake himself is an out trans man.
Though Black Magic Media was not strictly LGBTQIA content before (though many of its titles were written by queer writers), it will be after it’s first season of books. The first book, a collection of poetry by Short Story America prize winner Mathieu Cailler (May I Have This Dance?) will be released December 14th, 2017. The remaining books to be published throughout 2018 are How to Break My Neck (Jessica L. Walsh), Heart Radicals (Les Kay, Sandra Marchetti, Allie Marini, and Janeen Rastall), Lifelong Learning (Ezekiel Jarvis), the second edition of Ramirez’s novel Witches of the Deep South, Space Baby (Nicole Oquendo), Nesting (Kristen Figgins), Lady Leda’s Dancing Girls (Amber Edmondson), q & a (Steven and Ben Ostrowski), i was born dead (Caseyrenée Lopez), Maleficium (Witches of the Deep South #2 (Ramirez), Naomi and the Reckoning (Christine Stoddard), and Shotgun Mirage (David Rawson).
Mathieu Cailler’s May I Have This Dance can be pre-ordered here.
Fran Watson Officially On Ballot
Fran Watson is officially on the ballot for the Texas State Senate.
(AUSTIN, TEXAS) — Fran Watson is officially on the ballot as a Primary Candidate for Texas State Senate, District 17, which covers parts of Harris, Fort Bend, and Brazoria Counties.
On Tuesday, November 21st, Fran traveled to the Texas Democratic Party headquarters in Austin to file her application to be placed on the 2018 Primary Election Ballot. After a review of the document, the application was accepted by party officials.
“The Fran Watson for Texas campaign is officially underway. I would like to thank everyone who has supported and encouraged me following my announcement to run for State Senate. The excitement and momentum are there and we are ready to work on building a state government puts the People First.”
An attorney and community activist and advocate, Fran believes in People First, which means that everyone, regardless of look or circumstance deserves equal access to the opportunity to succeed in the State of Texas. This belief is a driving force for Fran’s public service, including her run for Texas Senate.
“The people of District 17 deserve a Senator who will work to break down barriers instead of creating them. I am ready to work on people-centered solutions that elevate the quality of life for all Texans.”
The Primary Election in Texas is March 6, 2018. The General Election is November 6, 2018.
You can visit her website here.
Transgender Day of Remembrance
A note from the editor-in-chief.
Today is 18th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR). It is a day not only to be acknowledged by the world’s trans community, but by the world as a whole. This is because trans people should not be pigeonholed to just their community, or even just to the LGBTQIA community. Just like cisgender people, transgender people are just … people.
Trans Day of Remembrance has been annually recognized since 1999, when it was established by trans advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith. Smith started the memorialization in response to the murder of Rita Hester, a trans woman who was murdered the year before. In the years since its inception, TDoR has become a vigil not only for Hester, but for all the trans people who have lost their lives to violence in the years since.
Today, we can see that violence against the trans community has not changed much. In 2017, 25 trans people have been victim to a fatal crime, including Texas’s own Stephanie Montez, a 47-year-old trans woman from Robstown. The majority of those people were trans women of color; and those numbers are up by 2 from 2016, with still a month and a half of the year left to go before the beginning of 2018.
The names of the people lost in 2017 are as follows: Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow (28), Mesha Caldwell (41), Sean Hake (age unknown), Jojo Striker (23), Tiara Lashaytheboss Richmond (24), Jaquarrius Holland (18), Chyna Doll Dupree (31), Ciara McElveen (21), Alphonza Watson (38), Chayviss Reed (age unknown), Kenneth Bostick (59), Sherrell Faulkner (46), Kenne McFadden (26), Josie Berrios (28), Ava Le Ray Barrin (17), Ebony Morgan (28), Troy “Tee Tee” Dangerfield (32), Gwenyvere River Song (26), Kiwi Herring (30), Kashmire Redd (28), Derricka Banner (26), Ally Steinfeld (17), Stephanie Montez (47), and Candace Towns (30).
Sadly, the attitude toward the trans community around the country is not generally improving – especially so with a president in the Oval Office who perpetuates antiquated and ridiculous stereotypes about the trans community by trying to ban trans servicemen and women from the military. From there, it trickles down. It trickles down to his supporters, those who are unsure of him, but who still listen, and then to the children of all of those people. Children who, if I might add, we should be educating about equality, about not seeing gender identity or sexual orientation or color or religion or nationality.
That’s why here at About Magazine, I’m making it a personal mission to make About Magazine + About News just as inclusive of our trans community as it is of the lesbian, bisexual, gay, and pansexual community. We will also be more inclusive of the intersex and asexual communities, so that no one is left behind.
To do so, we will be launching in 2018 our first page on the website for trans-only content, aptly titled About Trans. Currently, we are looking for trans writers and editors to be a part of this initiative. Until then, I will oversee it. However, I am a cis person, and in order for this operation to be genuine and authentic, it is my earnest belief that this portion of our site should be trans-run. If you or anyone you know would like to be a part of About Trans, feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Going forward, let’s remember what today stands for, and remind ourselves and our trans friends, neighbors, and loved ones that they are just as important as anyone else, and that we’re there to aid them if they should ever need it in any way. Give them your love, and give them your support, because they are just as much a part of the LGBTQIA community as anyone else that falls into any of those other categories. And if you don’t believe this to be true, read a little bit of our content today so that you can understand why trans people are so important to the queer cause. Because as genderqueer activist and musician C.N. Lester said, “Even when we are confused about someone’s gender, and don’t have a greater awareness of what it means to be trans, we have a choice to respond with kindness rather than cruelty.”
For more information on Transgender Day of Remembrance, visit the GLADD website here.
About Magazine Announces New Chief Editor
LGBT News Platform About Magazine Names Anthony Ramirez as Editor In Chief
(HOUSTON) — About Magazine + About News today announced that Anthony Ramirez has been appointed editor-in-chief of the About News platform. Ramirez succeeds Cade Michals, executive publisher, and founder since 2008, who is stepping aside for Ramirez to take lead. Michals will step back from his post as executive publisher of the LGBT news platform on November 7.
Michals will continue to play a pivotal role behind the scenes with the organization and its multiple affiliates, but will no longer make editorial or day-to-day management decisions. Michals, also the founder and director of the LGBT award show in Houston the F.A.C.E. Awards, has been transitioning the award show to a non-profit over the past few months allowing the award show to continue.
Ramirez is no stranger to writing. He is credited with four published novels (The Write Thing, Witches of the Deep South, Where He Lay Down, and a collection of his About Magazine column entries, Less Than Butterflies). His novel, Where He Lay Down, was nominated for an honor by the American Library Association’s Over the Rainbow GLBT Roundtable committee. Ramirez previously served as the editor of fiction and the director of social media and marketing for ELJ Publications. Last year he hosted the event Yas Queen: Out of the Margins (a reading of LGBTQ, POC, and women writers) at the American Writers and Writing Programs Conference in Washington D.C. He recently completed coursework for his Bachelor of the Fine Arts in Creative Writing.
Starting with About News in June, Ramirez was an investigative reporter. With this transition, Ramirez plans to expand the brand into a multimedia platform that will include a boost in op-ed pieces, short fiction and poetry from LGBTQ writers around the state, video content, and spotlights on Texas-based LGBTQ civilians who impact the community in a positive way. In December of 2018, he opened About Media Group’s own LGBTQ book publishing house, About Editions. About Editions has gone on to publish 8 books thus far, with a scheduled 12 for the entire 2018 year. The house’s first book — a collection of poetry from writer Mathieu Cailler entitled May I Have This Dance? — was released in December 2017 and won the New England Book Festival Award for Poetry that same month. In June of 2018, Ramirez launched About Media Group’s first-ever television production company, About Media, which has since gone on to being production on its first original series (Round-Up with Mel Rose), pick-up the web series Wineding Down with Anthony for its second season, and begun preproduction on an original sitcom entitled The Anthony Project. About Media has two scripted drama series in the early stages of development based off the books How to Break My Neck (Jessica L. Walsh) and Lifelong Learning (Zeke Jarvis) from About Editions.
Beyond writing and journalism, Ramirez is also a performer of the stage and screen. He is the executive producer, head writer, and star of the aforementioned About Media shows Wineding Down with Anthony and the forthcoming sitcom The Anthony Project. Ramirez sings annually in the Kingwood Kabaret scholarship fundraising event for Lone Star College and served as the volunteer committee chair for Pride Houston, Inc. from summer of 2016 until stepping down in the summer of 2018.
As a means of achieving these goals, Ramirez is constantly looking for new writers, photographers, editors, web designers, event coordinators, and more.
Follow Anthony Ramirez
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.
- 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 IntersexDay.org, “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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Willam Belli, Alaska Thunderfuck, Courtney Act Announce Texas Tour
Willam Belli, Alaska Thunderfuck and Courtney Act are back as the AAA Girls this fall touring Texas.
(Houston)- RuPaul’s Drag Race alums Willam Belli, Alaska Thunderfuck and Courtney Act are teaming up once again as The AAA Girls this fall, bringing their fierce, comedic show to fourteen US cities including Dallas, Houston, and Austin.
The AAA Girls North American Tour follows this summer’s release of The AAA Girls debut album, “Access All Areas.” Produced by Sam Sparro, the album’s lead single, “AAA Girls,” climbed to No. 2 on Billboard’s Comedy Album chart this summer. It received rave reviews for the music video’s throwback to classic pop star aesthetic and its celebration of drag extravaganza. The latest single is “Heather“.
“Girl groups are compelling because they’re sexy and dynamic,” Alaska explains to About Magazine. “At least, the AAA Girls are! I feel very blessed for having made such fun music and content with two people I consider dear friends. These ladies work so hard, and I’m really proud of the work we’ve done together.”
“Come see us in Texas ‘cause you never know what’s going to happen when the AAA Girls hit the stage.” -Willam
Willam, Alaska, and Courtney are best known for their respective participation in RuPaul’s Drag Race seasons 4, 5, and 6. Since appearing on the series, Willam has starred in several television shows and currently hosts “Suck Less,” a weekly call-in talk show where she and special guests artfully throw shade and spill the tea.
Since her Drag Race debut, Alaska has released two full-length studio albums and won RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 2.
Courtney has released an album, toured the world with her one woman show, and can be seen this fall on MTV’s new celebrity dating show, ”MTV Single AF”. “I am literally busting at the seams to hit the stage with Willam and Alaska on this epic tour,” exclaims Courtney Act. “These queens have worked with Britney (Spears) and Katy (Perry) so, of course, their next logical career move was to travel the world with me as the AAA Girls.”
They certainly have traveled the world. The AAA Girls North American Tour follows sold-out European and Australian tours. They will launch their Lone Star State run on Wednesday, 9/20 in Dallas at The Granada Theater. Then they roll into the Bayou city performing at Fitzgeralds in Houston on Thursday, 9/21, followed by Empire Control Room in Austin on Friday, 9/22
The trio first hit the scene as The AAA Girls in 2014 to support fashion brand American Apparel’s “Support Artists, Support Ethical Manufacturing” campaign. They later released the holiday single, “Dear Santa, Bring Me A Man”.
“Come see us in Texas ‘cause you never know what’s going to happen when the AAA Girls hit the stage,” Willam advises About Magazine.
Presented by Fullscreen Live, general admission ticket prices are $39 but in true All-Access fashion, fans will have the opportunity to purchase packages that allow them to take photos with The AAA Girls, get autographs, and even join them on-stage!
Tickets for the Access All Areas North American tour are available now at www.aaagirls.net.