WHO IS THIS NATHAN NEEL? MYTH OR MEGA DESIGNER?
Nathan Neel is the creative powerhouse behind Neel Branding, a branding studio specializing in concept design, branding, and design services to businesses of all sizes around the world. Nathan is an accomplished creative artist and enthusiast, and true adventurer.
For more than 5 years, Nathan has worked with numerous clients across a variety of industries – travel and tour hospitality, consumer packaged goods, music, real estate, retail, and healthcare – so it should come as no surprise that expression comes naturally to this branding and public relations consultant. There is no question Nathan is equally comfortable in front of a computer designing as he is in a room full of suits.
In addition to being a branding expert and creative designer, Nathan has written and created award-winning concepts for About Magazine, and co-created, and lead the design team for Houston’s premier award gala, the FACE Awards.
Before devoting his passion to full-time design, Nathan worked with the likes of Teleflora and LeAnn Rimes. Neel is an avid traveler with a ‘Do It Yourself’ itch to scratch. Nathan holds a degree in Business from San Jacinto University with national honors.
As a creative nomad, Nathan travels the world while working on inspiring projects and concepts. You can rest assured, his clients are always the only priority.
First Texas LGBTQ Historical Marker in Dallas
The first-ever LGBTQ historical marker in Dallas was erected last month at the corner of Cedar Springs and Throckmorton in the Oak Lawn “gayborhood” of Dallas, Texas to the surprise and joy of many.
(DALLAS) — On October 10th, 2018, a historical plaque was placed on the corner of Cedar Springs and Throckmorton in the Oak Lawn neighborhood of Dallas, Texas. Most people would see the plaque as just another historical marker showing the history behind another longstanding building, but it is far from just that. This brand-new historical plaque placed in front of JR’s Bar and Grill represents the major gathering place for the LGBTQ community in Dallas.
The Oak Lawn neighborhood, or the “Gayborhood” as it is lovingly referred to, has been a thriving LGBTQ community since the 1950’s and constantly entertaining Texas’s largest—and even one of America’s largest—Queer communities. Because Oak Lawn is an area that is known for its high activism, causing and acting on change, and the gathering of a major minority group the Texas Historical Commission turned its sights on preserving and teaching the rest of Texas about this significant neighborhood. The neighborhood is not as well known to people outside of the LGBTQ community, but the historical context of Oak Lawn was too rich to pass up by the Texas Historical Commission and, sub sequentially, Preservation Texas. These Commissions were looking to highlight more disenfranchised and lesser known communities because these are untold stories in Texas’s history and deserve to be emphasized for all of Texans to learn and know about.
The Commission and Preservation’s plan for the historical marker has been more than two years in the making, and with this plaque being erected it starts the movement towards commemorations of historically disenfranchised populations and communities all over Texas. And while Texas and Texans have been stubborn about their beliefs in the past, there is a substantial change within the population. Texas has always been a state of hard-working individuals who are notorious for their tenacity and spirit, and this is absolutely paralleled in the LGBTQ community of Texas.
The recognition of Oak Lawn as a historical and inspirational neighborhood in Dallas shows that the area has been standing strong and bravely in the face of heavy stigma for decades. The knowledge of this community is now there in a physical way, even if the community moves to a different area of Dallas, and young queer people will see the plaque and be proud to see their community represented so transparently, so permanently, in the historical texts of Texas.
The complete text of the Historical Marker reads:
DESPITE DALLAS’S REPUTATION AS ONE OF THE STATE’S MORE CONSERVATIVE CITIES, ITS LGBTQ (LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, TRANSGENDER, QUEER) COMMUNITY WAS AMONG THE FIRST IN TEXAS TO ORGANIZE POLITICALLY AND SOCIALLY. IN 1947, THE CITY BECAME HOME TO ONE OF THE FIRST GAY BARS IN TEXAS, CLUB RENO, AND IN 1972 WAS THE SITE OF THE FIRST GAY PRIDE PARADE IN TEXAS. IN 1980, THE PRIDE PARADE MOVED FROM DOWNTOWN TO CEDAR SPRINGS ROAD.
THE AREA SURROUNDING THE INTERSECTION OF THROCKMORTON STREET AND CEDAR SPRINGS ROAD HAS BEEN CONSIDERED THE CENTER OF THE DALLAS LGBTQ COMMUNITY SINCE THE EARLY 1970s AND IS KNOWN AS “THE GAY CROSSROADS” OR “THE CROSSROADS.” IN THE LATE 1960s AND EARLY 1970s, THE CROSSROADS WAS A MAGNET FOR THE CITY’S COUNTERCULTURE MOVEMENTS. GAYS AND LESBIANS BEGAN MOVING TO THE AREA, DRAWN TO ITS BOHEMIAN IMAGE AND PICTURESQUE ARCHITECTURE. MORE GAY-OWNED BUSINESSES AND BARS FOLLOWED, AND BY THE END OF THE 1970s, THE MAJORITY OF BUSINESSES IN THE AREA CATERED TO THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY. WITH THE ONSLAUGHT OF THE AIDS CRISIS IN THE 1980s, THE CROSSROADS BECAME NOT ONLY AN ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT, BUT ALSO A CENTER FOR POLITICAL ACTIVISM, SOCIAL SERVICES AND MEDICAL TESTING.
AS THE HISTORIC HEART OF THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY OF DALLAS, THE CROSSROADS REMAINS THE LOCATION OF THE OLDEST GAY BUSINESSES IN THE CITY AND AS THE PRIMARY GATHERING POINT FOR LGBTQ POLITICAL AND SOCIAL EVENTS, INCLUDING THE ALAN ROSS FREEDOM PARADE. THE CROSSROADS CONTINUES TO SERVE THE NEIGHBORHOOD AND THE CITY OF DALLAS AS A SYMBOL OF SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL ACTION AMONG THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY.
EXCLUSIVE: Dallas Pride Announces New Executive Director
EXCLUSIVE: This past Thursday, Jaron Turnbow — a thirteen year veteran of Dallas Pride — was announced as the organization’s newest executive director just a week out from the Dallas Pride Celebration.
(DALLAS) – Dallas LGBTQ celebration committee, Dallas Pride, has appointed a new executive director to its board of directors. Jaron Turnbow, Dallas Pride’s newest leader, has been worked under current executive director, Michael Doughman, for several years and has spent thirteen with Dallas Pride. He has worked as head of the organization’s parade committee most recently.
Anthony Ramirez: How long have you been with Dallas Pride and how are you feeling?
Wow, three words huh?
“I need Dr. Pepper”? [Smiles]. Okay, no. Creative, optimistic, compassionate.
Dallas Pride kicks off with its festival next Saturday, September 15th, and its parade next Sunday, September 16th. Headliners include Asia O’Hara and Thea Austin.
Follow Dallas Pride
Pride Edition: Al Farb
A Conversation with Al Farb – Houston’s favorite gay radio producer and host. Click play in the box below to hear the full conversation with Al Farb, Anthony Ramirez, and Wendy Taylor.
(DALLAS) – For years he’s easily been one of the most recognizable people in Houston’s LGBTQIA community, thanks in part to his time spent at the New 93Q as New Morning Q talk show producer and co-anchor. Starting off at the radio station at the ripe old age of 13, Farb got his very first on-air interview with none other than Donny Osmond, and his life, from that moment on, was forever changed. In the time since, he went back to school and worked in sports radio before eventually landing back at the place he first fell in love with radio, the New 93Q. But back in the Spring, Al Farb made his move to Dallas’s New Country 96.3 KSCS, where he’s taken over the roles as assistant program director, music director, and afternoon on-air host from 3PM to 7PM.
Still, there’s more to Farb than just what takes place behind his studio mic. Born to a well-known Houston family, Al grew up immersed in Houston’s boundless culture. And in discovering the wonders the city had to offer him, as well as those that radio did, Farb came out to joint Houston’s LGBTQIA community in his adulthood, where his fame only grew further. Going on to be a guest judge for Dessie’s Drag Race, working with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, hosting About Magazine’s FACE Awards, and meeting every country music star from Hunter Hayes to Reba McEntire to George Strait, Al, at the very young age of 31, has lived a full, well-rounded life.
As mentioned above, Al’s life has taken him to Dallas — or North Woodlands, as Houstonians might refer to it — and he’s there to show country music fans and Dallas’s LGBTQIA community everything that he has to offer. In the SoundCloud interview above for About Magazine’s Pride Edition, Al sat down with his friends (former American Idol contestant and renowned musician) Wendy Taylor and (About Magazine editor-in-chief and Less Than Butterflies author) Anthony Ramirez discuss what his life has been like since the transition to Dallas and into his new job. But the conversation wasn’t limited to just that. In the interview, Al gives his thoughts on how LGBTQIA people fit into the country music world, his former faux-feud with Ramirez and About Magazine, whether or not politics play a part in the world of music, and, of course, Houston drag royalty and friend, Kara Dion. Below is a transcript of the conversation.
You can follow Al on social media here:
Transcript of the Conversation:
Wendy Taylor: Oh, no. We’re being recorded.
Anthony Ramirez: Yeah.
Wendy Taylor: It’s official.
Al Farb: On the record.
AR: Everything that you say to me is on the record.
AF: Yeah, I learned that the hard way.
AR: What did I do to you?
AF: Your text messages [screenshots] that you post.
AR: Oh. That doesn’t count.
WT: So, if I’m co-interviewing, do I have to get off Facebook and pay attention?
AR: Yeah, you do.
AR: So, Al Farb, I want you to project your voice — so — cause I want it to be —
[Al shifts nearer to the recorder]
AR: Okay — not — that’s too much.
AR: [To another diner] Don’t look at us. That bitch just gave me side-eye. Okay, well that’s the end of the interview. Thank you for talking with us.
AR: So, tell us about your new job.
AF: Well, if you — as you, uh, would’ve learned through the other interview, but it was never published.
AR: Well, see … you knew there was an issue with that. [Pause]. I deleted the recording on accident.
WT: On “accident”?
AR: No, it really way. Because I have so many of these in my phone that they start taking up space. And I didn’t name Al’s. It was just a date. And usually when I do that it’s like–
WT: You didn’t even give him a name?
WT: That’s shady.
AF: All right, I am the, uh, assistant program director, music director, and afternoon on-air host at New Country 96.3 KSCS. [Pause]. That’s my job.
AR: Tell us about it.
AF: Well … that’s … what it is.
AR: Like the other day when I asked you, and you explained to me what you do —
AF: Yes, so.
AR: Because no one knows.
AF: No one knows?
AR: You’re just a disembodied voice — I mean people know — I mean, not here, but back there [in Houston] knew it was you. But, like, no one knows what else goes on other than the radio hosting.
AF: Yeah. Okay. So, we have a unique situation in Dallas where the company that I work for owns both of the big country stations here in town. So, my boss, Mac, is the program director for both country stations; and then I help him with everything behind the scenes on KSCS. There’s somebody like me on our other station, the Wolf, um [clears throat], so we —
WT: Sorry. His name is the Wolf?
AF: No! The station is called the Wolf.
WT: [Laughs] Okay.
AF: The station is the Wolf.
AR: [Sarcastically] Oh, because our radio DJs have much better names … Special K.
AF: Anyway, so part of my music director responsibility is starting, you know, having relationships and, um, keeping up to date with all of our label reps in Nashville through all of the various record labels, and finding out what they’re doing, what their artists are doing. If we need to do an event with them, I’ll set that up with the rep, who will then go to their management and so on and so forth. And then we’ll look at all of our research that is done through all of our, um — with all of our music that we play, our current songs, and then make decisions on where to move songs to schedule them for the rest of the week. And then I schedule all of the songs every day.
WT: So … you make playlists every day.
AF: I make playlists every day, basically. Yeah.
AF: And then … yeah. I mean, it’s true. I mean we have a —
WT: It’s cool, though.
AF: We schedule music a lot differently than you might on your personal iPod or whatever, because we’re playing for massive amounts of people. But, yeah. It is cool to make those decisions and have that — it’s like every day I start with a blank canvas, and you know, you’re painting your way through the day. It’s cool. And then, at the end of the day, I’ll go into the studio and host the afternoon drive home show on KSCS from 3 to 7. And, um, while people are stuck in traffic, they’re listening to the music that I program and me talk about it. It’s cool.
WT: Uh-huh. How do we listen to you in Houston?
AR: There ya’ go.
WT: How do you feel about the statement my friend Cedric Josey made, saying that “country music is basically just farm emo.”
AR: [Completely unfazed by anything].
AF: “Farm emo”?
AR: Yes, do tell.
AF: Well, historically, country music has a bad rep. But if you, um, really dive in and listen to the songs and listen to the music, that is not the case, at all. Of course there are some very honky-tonk sounding songs that, uh, you know, that are a part of the stereotype. But just like all genres and everything, there are those that stand out. And there’s actually a lot of really good song that have a really positive message.
AR: So, what’s it like now that you’re not doing a morning talk show vs. what you are doing now?
AF: Yeah, that was probably one of the hardest transitions. Well, as far as — it’s easy not to wake up so early. But, on the air, you know, we only have a certain amount of time to talk. And where I was used to having longer than I have now to talk, that was one of my biggest challenges, you know, transitioning from having longer talk breaks to just really quick information. So, editing the way that I talk, you know word economy and stuff like that, is — was difficult. And it was harder than I thought it was going to be to transition from waking up early and then having normal hours. It’s taken me — you know, I think I’m finally over it now, but your body and your whole everything just shifts in that direction. So, it’s harder than you might think.
AR: Well, you get to sleep later now, too. Right?
AF: Well, that was the thing is that I wasn’t sleeping.
WT: Well, welcome to the normal world.
AR: [To Wendy] What the fuck do you know about it?
AF: You’re not in the normal world.
AR: You slept ‘til 5 on Sunday.
WT: [Through a mouthful of chips] I didn’t say I was in the, um — [unintelligible] — but I was up at 6 o’clock this morning, because I went to bed at 9 PM.
AR: I was probably up at 6 o’clock this morning.
WT: But you hadn’t gone to bed yet — well … you hadn’t gone to sleep yet.
AR: Anyway, this isn’t about me. [Pause] For once.
AF: For once.
AR: So, what are the things you miss most about Houston? Don’t say Kara Dion. She’s trash.
AR: I’m just kidding. [To Kara who is not there] Happy belated birthday!
AF: Um … I miss … a lot of things. I miss the culture of Houston. Houston’s my hometown. I always feel — I will always feel a, um, a sense of pride for — and not the Pride that we’re celebrating this month — a sense of pride for belonging and, you know, for Houston. It’s my hometown. There’s so much heritage that not only I have there, but my family for many years. So, I miss that. I miss the food. I miss all of my friends and family.
WT: I love how friends and family came after food.
WT: That’s appropriate.
AR: Let’s not act like we wouldn’t say it the same way.
AF: And the sense of community that Houston has. I’m still a couple months into living here in Dallas, so I don’t want to speak — I can’t speak on the Dallas community. But, you know, Houston has a great LGBT community, and I felt very much a part of that. And I miss being in it, you know, on a day-to-day basis.
AR: What’s been your experience so far with LGBTQIA community.
AF: Um, I’ve had very little experience because I’ve been really focusing on my job and, you know, there’s a lot of stuff we have on the weekends — concerts and what not. There’s a lot more concerts here in Dallas because the rodeo takes up a lot of that in Houston. Whereas it’s all kind of, we do it all in a month, they spread it out all over the year. So, um, for me it’s getting to know the city and driving around the Metroplex and getting to know all that stuff. So, I haven’t really had that much personal free time to go and explore the bars and the scene here. But I can definitely tell that it’s very different.
WT: Yeah. Do they have something here like we have in Houston? Like the Montrose Center?
AF: Yes. It’s what y’all [About Magazine] donated to — the Resource Center.
AR: So, let’s just divert to a little bit more of a lighthearted topic. You and I have had a feud for a very long time.
AF: Oh, geez.
WT: For a very long time.
AR: It feels like it. It’s been since like —
AR: January. Whatever. Do you want to tell everyone … how you scorned me?
AF: How I what?
AR: How you scorned me. Done me wrong.
AF: I don’t even remember.
AR: [Slams his hands down on the table] I really thought this could be over as of today.
AF: So, while I was hosting the, um, season — what was it? — 12 finale —
AR: No one cares about that part.
AF: — of Dessie’s Drag Race.
AR: The drag queens are out of control in Houston right now. [Laughs]
AF: I fights.
WT: I fights.
AR: I’m sorry —
WT: “I only got eight nails …”
AF: It’s pretty funny.
WT: It’s really funny.
AF: Anyway, so while I was co-hosting, or judging, or whatever I was doing — I was a guest celebrity judge for the season 12 finale of Dessie’s Drag Race at Rich’s, every Monday night.
WT: [Laughs at the word ‘celebrity’]
AR: I’m not even the one who made a joke about you not being famous, I just want to say.
WT: I just think — nevermind. [Pause] Go ahead.
AF: I didn’t say that. They promoted it.
AR: Well … you quoted it … so …
WT: Yeah. You did.
AR: No, you’re very famous.
AF: [Gives Anthony a ‘go-to-hell’ look].
AR: You are! I’m not making fun of you! Jesus. [Pause] So, you did what now?
AF: So, I was doing like I usually do … I judge. And, um —
AF: #iJudge #iFights
AF: Um … so, at the end of the evening, I was making a beeline to the patio bar, because that’s where my friends were, because they had texted me that that is where they were. And, apparently, for the very first time in history, somebody didn’t recognize Anthony Ramirez. Not that — not that he’s a celebrity or a well-known person. It’s just that he’s just … quite hard to miss.
AR: He means … fat.
AF: I didn’t say that.
AR: But what he really means is slutty.
AF: So, I, um, mistakenly did not see him.
AR: And thank you, by the way.
AF: And therefore Anthony took great offense.
AR: I did. I stormed out of Rich’s and went to Guava and hung out with Morena [Roas]. And I said, “This motherfucker …”
AF: ‘Cause at that point, I’d only really met you in person one other time.
AR: Yeah. And it was circumstantial because —
AF: I thought you were going to make a circumcision joke.
AR: … no. [Pause] So, I feel like we’ve come to a nice place. Not … here [the restaurant] … like literally … but in our spiritual journey —
AR: — where we can put the feud behind.
WT: Well … I am … very disappointed. [Laughs]
WT: This has been my favorite thing of the whole year.
AF: I think there will always be a feud, but unofficially.
AR: Mostly for readership.
AF : [Laughs] “Mostly for readership.”
AR: [To Wendy] Well, you could have a feud with someone.
WT: No, it’s more fun to watch y’all do it.
AF: I think you should have a feud with Kara Dion.
WT: [Unintelligible through all the chips in her mouth]
AR: I think you should have a feud with Brenda Rich.
AF: There you go. And so it begins.
AR: Have you had any feuds in Dallas?
AF: [No response]
AR: Okay, so seriously. You have said before that you were very open with your sexuality at work when you were with 93Q. It was totally cool. Totally chill. Have you gotten there here yet?
AF: Oh, yeah.
AR: I mean, I feel like if they didn’t know you were gay before, your excitement for Shania Twain [in concert] gave it away.
AF: Oh, yeah. And Hunter Hayes. He’s playing the State Fair in September.
WT: Isn’t he like 12?
AF: No, he’s like 24. He’s older than Anthony.
WT: That’s 12 times 2.
AF: Which is older than Anthony. [Pause] Although —
AR: I’m 24!
AF: But Anthony wasn’t blessed with his looks. Some sort of Otter-Mexican combo.
WT: An ot-ter?
AR: That’s so — otters are so cute! I would love [to be] a Mexican otter
[Anthony thinks Al is talking about otters as in the animal, and not otters as in the tribe of gay men … he finds both very cute and flattering]
AF: You are a Mexican Otter.
AR: Thank you! [Pause] So, I had a point to asking that question. Goddamnit.
AF: Very open with sexuality …
AR: Right — um — so, how are you going to — okay, I feel like at some point, you are going to have to kind of get yourself out in this community.
AF: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I’m already — I’m very excited to know that About [Magazine] is coming up here to Dallas and is going to start getting entrenched in the community. So, I feel like I can get on the ground floor with the magazine to help host events or do whatever I can to promote the events with not only myself, but with the radio station that I work for to get behind and be supportive.
AR: Oh, how do you feel about representation of LGBTQIA people in the country music scene?
AF: Oh, there’s a lot of representation. One of the biggest writers of this time or generation or whatever you want to call it, Shane McAnally, is openly gay. And he’s one of the most successful writers of this current time, whatever you wanna call it. And his Dad is Mac McAnally, who is also a writer. He’s been in the business a long time. He’s worked with Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, and all of those artists. And he’s [Shane] very well-accepted. A colleague of mine now in Houston is the program director for the Bull, which is a country station there. And he has been out for a very long time. He’s married. He and his husband Kevin are very well accepted throughout the industry. And he’s a big reason that I was — that I felt comfortable to come out, once I learned that he was accepted and that everybody was fine with him. That helped me along the way to come out fully and know that I would be accepted. You know, there are artists, Ty Herndon, Billy Gilman, who have come out. Honestly, I don’t think it has anything to do with their success or not. There are a lot of pro-LGBT country artists. Cam, who just announced that she’s going to open for Sam Smith on her tour. And she wore a — I think it was a Pride t-shirt at her show in Houston.
AR: Well, you have artists like Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, who have all spoken out about this — Jennifer Nettles.
WT: Carrie Underwood.
AR: They’ve all spoken out in favor [of LGBTQIA rights]. I think historically, though, country music had associations with right-sided politics. But, now I think —
AF: Everybody loves country music. I know that’s a broad, general music. I know everybody doesn’t love country music. It’s a genre of choice. But what I mean by everybody is people of every walk of life. It doesn’t matter — just because you listen to country music doesn’t mean you are one way politically or not, or one way with sexual orientation or not. It isn’t true. I can give you a handful of LGBT people. I can give you a handful of people who are liberal, who are everything that aren’t what the stereotype is who will spend a lot of money at a country concert to sit front row and do all the VIP stuff. And it’s great. I mean … that’s what music is. It brings people together. It should not be identified as a political party, a sexual orientation, or anything. At the Shania Twain concert, which you attended with me here in Dallas —
AR: I do not recall.
AF: Well, that’s your fault. And I attended the one in Houston. And there were a ton of —
AF: — of LGBTQIA+ people. There were a ton of African-Americans, a ton of Hispanics — just people. It’s a melting pot. It’s how all concerts are, and how all musical gatherings should be.
AR: Okay, I want to expound upon that a bit, actually. Because I do agree — and this isn’t about me — but I think that music should have a place where it is separate of all of those things. But now, especially politically and the way that climate is — I think that it’s more important now than ever for people who are in a position to have a voice and who have a soapbox to preach off of to use it combat hatefulness and discrimination. I think it is important for artists who have come out in support of gay rights. So … yes … it doesn’t need to have a direct correlation to a political party.
AR: But isn’t it important that people are using their platform to do the right thing?
AF: I do — I mean, I really don’t want to get into politics. But I — on that level — I do think that unless you have — it just gets really dirty when you get into politics. And musicians who have historically, one way or the other … it has not gone well for them. Because you’re always going to be wrong to somebody. So, obviously gay rights is a human right. That goes without saying. And everyone should be in support of that. But when you get behind a political party or a political candidate, it is really, really hard to come out on the right side of that, because you’re never going to be right. And, as a musician — and me, and I’m speaking as an entertainer, someone who is in that similar field, presenting those songs — I don’t care to have a public political voice. It’s not my job. I don’t want to get involved with that. Because, like I said, you’re going to come out on the wrong side of it. And, for me, it would affect ratings. For them, it would affect their music sales or concert ticket sales.
[Side note that Wendy Taylor, a professional singer, is the loudest and most die-hard liberal in the entire world and who lets everyone she comes into contact with know it]
AF: Because, as I said earlier, music is for all. And with that, you should entertain all, whoever they support politically.
AR: As much as I want to go deeper into that, I’m not going to. But I feel like we should circle back to this conversation another day. So, I’m gonna jump to this: You are contracted for a couple of years with this station. I know that it’s kind of early to tell, because you did just get here, but do you feel like you’ll be calling Dallas your home for a while?
AF: I hope so.
AR: You hear that, Houston? He don’t wanna come back.
AF: No, that’s not what I said. The station, as I arrived, was already rising up in the ranks. We are overall doing very well ratings-wise. So, I hope to be an actual contributor to that success. I don’t feel that I am yet, because I just got here. But I hope that that success will continue and that I will be able to grow myself and with the company. And, you know, as I said when I interviewed with for this position — and I brought this up last time we interviewed, but you deleted that interview —
AR: It was an accident.
AF: I’d said that if there were any job that I was going to be looking at to leave here, it’d be to Houston. You know, Houston’s my home and I do hope to return one day. But, I don’t know if my job here will be done in two years. So, to answer your question, I hope to stay here for as long as they’ll have me.
AR: I guess my next question is — and this is one that a lot of people wanted me to ask you — where is the Farb Family Fortune buried?
AR: No? No comment? [Pause] So, do you have any events coming up? Are there any concerts you’re going to that you want to plug? — oh, by the way! I want you to get me into Sam Smith.
AR: Oh! Do you have a message for Kara Dion? She heard that she was replaced.
AF & WT: “Mess!”
AF: She is not replaced. She will never be replaced.
AR: Snapchat said otherwise. She saw it with her own two eyes.
WT: Yeah, I saw it, too. I saw it, too.
AR: Okay, well, it’s been wonderful, Al. It’s been so great for you to let us have the honor of watching you put food in your bobblehead.
AF: [Laughs] Wendy is my favorite person at the table.
WT: That’s right.
AR: He is lying. He is in love with me.
WT: Hey, Anthony.
WT: Who’s your favorite person at the table?
AR: … Me. Always me.
WT: [Laughs hysterically]
AF: The correct answer to that is Jesus. Because he is always watching us and he is always with you.
AR: “I can do all things –”
AF: “… through Christ –”
AR: “–through Vodka, who strengthens me.” [Pause] That’s my inspirational quote of the day.
AF: And on that note, I need the check.
AR: And on that note, we want to thank you again [for buying lunch]. And thank you, Wendy Taylor, for joining us.
WT: Oh, like I had a choice.
AR: You did. You didn’t have to come with me.
WT: I did.
AR: Oh, she wanted to meet Lupe [Valdez]. That’s going to be a much better interview.
Queer Houston, We Have a Problem
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 Republican—hosts 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 is more than just a trans woman—she’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.
Lupe 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.
I’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?
Though 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
RuPaul’s Michelle Visage Will Co-Host Halloween Contest In Montrose
RuPaul’s Drag Race Judge Michelle Visage Heads To South Beach, Jr’s Bar & Grill To Co-Host Halloween’s Biggest Block Party In Houston And Judge Costume Contest In South Beach
(Houston) — How could Houston’s LGBTQ+ annual Halloween block party get better? By adding a big-bosomed personality known as Michelle Visage is how! South Beach and Jr’s Bar & Grill in Montrose will welcome Michelle to co-host the annual Halloween shindig on Saturday, October 28. (Prior to Halloween.)Starting at 9:00 PM inside South Beach.
South Beach, an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Montrose has become notorious for booking the ‘best of the best’ from RuPaul’s Drag Race. The club welcomes at least one RuPaul contestant a week.
You probably know Michelle Visage best as the beautiful, big-bosomed sidekick to Ru Paul on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Her personality fills the screen more than the competing queens and her cascading breasts combined. Her sense of humor is bone dry and a little bit filthy, all things required in the Houston scene.
South Beach the nightclub, along with Jr’s Bar & Grill join the City of Houston, with a street closure in Montrose in the 800 Pacific Street occurring promptly at 9 PM. Drag Superstar Kofi will host the popular outdoor events that will include a Halloween costume contest.
Michelle joined RuPaul’s Drag Race for the third season and has won the hearts of the viewers and queens with her straight to the point critiques, her passion and her love for the LGBTQ+ community.
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.