Harris County Sheriffs Department Was Holding The Vehicle Of An Vinh Nguyen At Their North Side Impound Lot Since Last Week.
HOUSTON — A Houston news outlet is reporting the 2016 Orange Jeep Renegade of missing University of Houston student An Vinh Nguyen has been recovered and in the custody of law enforcement authorities.
According to KTRK-13 ‘Detectives would not reveal where they discovered the Jeep or what condition it was in at the time.’ But admitted it has been in their possession for about a week, Nguyen’s family gave consent to search it.
KTRK-13 reporters spotted the vehicle on Wednesday in the sheriff’s impound lot on the north side of Houston.
It has been over two weeks since the University of Houston student disappeared.
Exposé: Untold Facts About Tatiana Mala-Niña’s Trial
On Friday, 15 March 2019, a story about a past child sex assault conviction surfaced about Houston drag queen Tatiana Mala-Niña. About Magazine and guest contributors dug into the details of the case to provide unreported information about the trial, the allegations, and an affidavit signed by the accuser asking for all charges to be dropped.
In the interest of maintaining journalistic integrity, I have made a conscious effort — along with contributors Jonny Lessard, Scott Lupton, and Wendy Taylor — to delve deeper into the happenings of the case recently brought back to light regarding Tatiana Mala-Nina, who was convicted of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child in 2009. The story was presented following the already controversial coverage of local Drag Queen Story Time, which took place at the Freed-Montrose Library once a month in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood. Reviewing the stories published by fellow online and print publications, as well as numerous television news stations, it felt necessary to provide more facts about the case than what had been laid out before. This is not an opinion piece. This is not a defense of either party involved in the trial. This article is designed simply to lay out the facts that have and have not been reported, as well as to pose questions that may have not yet been heard.
It is also important to note here that most news outlets have been using the pronouns he/him/his when referring to Mala-Nina. Tatiana Mala-Nina is a transgender woman and should be referred to using the she/her/hers pronouns. The only context in which we will be using her dead name (a name by which a trans person is called pre-transition) is when quoting documentation from the court file.
(HOUSTON) — Just over one week ago, in the early evening of Friday, 15 March, Houston news station KHOU published a story in which it was revealed that popular Houston drag queen Tatiana Mala-Nina (who had been reading to children at the popular Drag Queen Story Time event at the Freed-Montrose Library) was a convicted sex offender. Initial reports were relatively vague, with journalists using their very limited information to break a story around a subject that has been at the center of heated discussion over the past few months. Since Drag Queen Story Time first began in Houston — previously put together once a month by Trent Lira and Devin Will, until their recent resignation as directors of the program — it has been met with its share of acclaim, but has also been subjected to backlash and criticism. On the inside, local drag queens put on their made-up faces and don their most fantastical dresses while reading an age-appropriate book to the children who are there not only to learn a lesson in literacy, but in acceptance.
But outside of the library’s walls, matters aren’t quite as calm. Anti-LGBTQIA protesters would gather along the sidewalk thrusting signs quoting biblical verse, hate speech, and condemnation. One group in particular was hoping to do away with Drag Queen Story Time; and they go by the name of MassResistance, a conservative values group based out of Massachusetts that is known for taking a stand against LGBTQIA-positive issues in the name of “traditional values”. It was MassResistance that brought Tatiana Mala-Nina’s criminal history under the press light; and spreading this news was only just the beginning of a much larger fallout.
The offense in question is a matter of public record: Mala-Nina was registered as a sex offender after being convicted of aggravated sexual assault on a minor under the age of 14 in June of 2008. Further details revealed that the accuser was the child of a family friend, and that Mala-Nina had been sentenced to five years of probation and community service, which ended in June of 2016 without incident. Within hours of the article stating her sex offender status hitting the internet and the story playing across the five o’clock news, it seemed as though everything in Houston’s queer community had changed. Community members assumed sides, some calling Mala-Nina guilty and disavowing her, others swearing their allegiance and believing that she could not be capable of such an atrocity, and many reserving commentary until more evidence surfaced. Only, it seemed there wasn’t time for that; over the weekend ahead, the news would go on to get picked up by national news stations, and later would become international news. Conservative and liberal-leaning news outlets alike took the story and ran with it — many of the articles referring to Tatiana Mala-Nina by her deadname (and the wrong one, at that) and just as many misgendering her. You see, Tatiana Mala-Nina is more than just a drag queen; she is also a trans woman. While she may have identified as male at the time her conviction took place, her pronouns today remain to be she/her/hers. The fallout got worse, however. People all throughout Houston’s queer community — especially performers, drag and non-drag alike — grew fearful of what might happen at their forthcoming shows, and Tatiana Mala-Nina effectively lost every booking she had around the city.
By Sunday, just when the community thought the worst was over, it became quickly evident that it had only really just begun. As news continued to circulate around the globe, the ins-and-outs of the news report began to get messier. The largest example of this could be when fellow Houston drag icon, Blackberri, became a target after conservative news site Breitbart wrongly used her image rather than Mala-Nina’s when reporting on the story on 16 March. While Blackberri had also read at the library’s story time, her likeness to that of Mala-Nina is considerably small. More importantly, it put Blackberri in a position of danger, as well, once her face had been plastered against the headline, “Nolte: Houston Library Allowed Sex Offender to Read to Kids During Drag Queen Storytime”. Still, after the weekend had passed, many had taken note that Tatiana’s social media pages had been removed from the internet, and most outside of her nearest friends and family had not heard from her, until that Sunday afternoon, when Mala-Nina released the following statement through a friend’s social media:
“By now, many of you have seen the news that is circulating from KHOU. I would like to make a statement, and then am asking you all to respect my need for privacy at this time. I am safe, and with my family, but please don’t contact me for now, I will need some time…
Many years ago, I had a family friend. I had been babysitting her son for many years, and was considered a member of their own family. I made the difficult decision to come out as gay, and my life changed forever.
The boys mother was scared that gay = predator. She concocted a story, and went to the police. Her son attempted to tell the same story, but his changed many times during multiple interviews. There was no physical evidence or witnesses to what she claimed, but as a gay person of color, my side didn’t matter.
They did not have witnesses or evidence. They did not have a case, just a made up story. In the end, it didn’t matter. I plead not guilty. The jury did not all say I was guilty, but the judge defied the jury and chose to convict me.
Did you know that there are over 60 thousand people registered in Texas as sex offenders? Many of these people are in situations like mine. I wish that we could catch anyone who would ever hurt a child, and throw them in the deepest pit we could find. I would never. The catholic church has more sex offenders than any other organization. I would never do anything to hurt anyone, let alone one of our most innocent and vulnerable.
You all know me. I am sorry that this happened. I am sorry that I made a decision that could hurt people. I wasn’t thinking, because I’ve done all I can to put this horrible thing behind me. I am sorry that these horrible people are doing anything they can to attack us. But, I cannot be sorry for something I did not do. I have broken no laws, and although I regret the hurt this is causing, I wanted you all to know what really happened.” (sic).
That status update was shared 57 times from the original post and reached masses all across the queer community of Houston. Still, Mala-Nina was not being seen in a positive light by people in the community. Many questioned what made her accept the volunteer gig to read to children knowing she was a registered sex offender, regardless of whether or not she was innocent. Others stood up to say that, in cases of sexual assault, one should always believe the accuser. But for some, there was something about Mala-Nina’s story that set them to forge a path to find the truth, to look for something that hadn’t been seen that might exonerate Mala-Nina and prove her innocence. After all, this was an 11-year-old case that had been closed since Mala-Nina completed her probation terms in the summer of 2016; and finding details that could help prove her innocence was not going to be easy. That being said, it didn’t stop a few of Mala-Nina’s friends from Houston’s LGBTQIA community.
One of the most instrumental in this research was Jonny Lessard, who stated in an interview that he’s known Tatiana Mala-Nina for upward of seven years. Upon seeing the controversy spark and watching Mala-Nina lose everything, he stated that he felt like he had to do something. “I think there was this part of me — like I’m sure there was for everyone — that just didn’t want to believe it was someone I knew.” That feeling didn’t come singularly to Lessard. Across social media, friends and fans shared similar sentiments, some expressing doubt in the accusations, others hoped that they were not true, and some disappointment. Lessard and his boyfriend, Scott Lupton — a stage performer and former paralegal — had taken the time this past week after the news broke to travel down to Harris County Constable Precinct 6 to review the file related to Mala-Nina’s 2008 case. While unsure of exactly what they might find, both Lessard and Lupton took to the documents hoping something there might be indicative of Mala-Nina’s innocence. “We looked at those documents for about an hour and a half,” Lessard said in our interview. “If I’d had more time, I might have been able to get more information; but with limited time, we were just there looking for facts.”
Facts, believe it or not, are exactly what they found. Reviewing the documents — which included witness statements, court appeals, and more details about the case and are available to the general public — Lessard and Lupton found (again) that the claimant was a child under the age of 14 who had been the child of a family friend. The child alleged that he had requested access to Mala-Nina’s bedroom to play a video game, and that Mala-Nina had obliged under the condition that the child remove his clothing. The child then claimed that the Mala-Nina performed oral sex on the child for a few seconds before requesting that he do the same to her. The child alleges that he did so, but stopped after an additional few seconds, feeling uncomfortable, and left the room. According to trial documents, “The Complainant did not tell anyone what had transpired because the Appellant [Mala-Nina] told him not to, and because he was afraid of the Appellant. However, he did not remember telling the police that the Appellant had never told him not to say anything […]” (sic). Documents go on to say that the child, “[…] stated he was “pretty sure” that the above incident happened to more times when he was around the same age, the only difference being that he was not asked to touch the Appellant.”
The latter detail — regarding the two other instances — came up at an awkward time during the trial. Mala-Nina and counsel were not informed of this until just before the trial, and when the Defense requested time to review these claims. A separate document filed 7 December 2010 outlines an appeal requested by the Appellant and speaks more to this. “The outcry was made in February 2008. From then until trial, the complainant only revealed to police a single incident of assault. The complainant testified that he felt safe talking with the prosecutor though, and mentioned that appellant had also assaulted him on two other occasions. The complainant testified that these occasions occurred in the same place and at some time before the event described during the summer of 2006. The only apparent variation on these occasions was that the complainant was not asked to perform oral sex on appellant.” (NO. 14-09-00828-CR, pg. 3).
Moreover, another point to be considered is that Mala-Nina maintained and continues to maintain her innocence with no explicit admission of guilt to the allegations brought about by the accuser. However, in court documents entitled “Motion In Limine”, it would appear as though (although this is not confirmed) that the court attempted to use a sworn statement by the Defendant (Mala-Nina) of a separate occasion in order to imply guilt. In United States law, a Motion of Limine takes place when an attempt to exclude a testimony is made away from the jury. In the case of Mala-Nina, it would appear as though the testimony in question came from an interview in which Mala-Nina made a statement that reads as such in the Motion In Limine:
“[…] Defendant (currently 21 years of age) and Complainant (currently 10 years of age) were in a public pool when Complainant was younger, Defendant noticed that the Complainant (NOT THE DEFENDANT) had an erection while playing in the pool. As described by Defendant, it was the Complainant who inadvertently came into contact with the Defendant in the pool while Complainant had an erection.” (“Motion In Limine, 3). The court document goes on to state (in paraphrase) that the State of Texas tried to use this as an admission of touching the child inappropriately, but argues, “[…] which is a complete misrepresentation of what Defendant said.]” The same document (and on the same page) goes on to state another instance in which the Mala-Nina was present in the bathroom while the child was showering, but that nothing of any sexual nature took place and that this information was not an admission of guilt. It goes forth to say, “Most importantly, Complainant has affirmatively stated to the Children’s Protective Services interviewers (two separate interviews were recorded with Complainant), and has always stated, to the knowledge and belief of undersigned Counsel based on what has been provided to Counsel through discovery, that Defendant had not engaged in any other alleged sexual molestation.”
As per Mala-Nina’s official statement following the reemergence of this story on Friday last, Mala-Nina was a babysitter of the child in question. If the child was aged 6, 7, or 8 as alleged by said child at the time of these allegations, it may not seem unreasonable that either of the aforementioned incidents happened without sexual foundations, and calls into question why the State would elect to have this testimony be considered — especially so if it were to be used as an admission of guilt. Of all of these facts however, there is one document that raises more questions than all the others, which can be found in a document in the file examined by Lessard and Lupton.
The document is titled “AFFIDAVIT OF NON-PROSECUTION” and is dated to have been filed on 14 September 2009. In the document, which has been transcribed below (a photo of this document has also been included), the child who accused Mala-Nina of the alleged sexual assault claims that he would like all charges against the Defendant dropped and that no further prosecution take place. Unfortunately, in a case such as this where the State is now in opposition of the Defendant, the law does not require that the State drop charges at the request of the Plaintiff (the child). The document reads as transcribed:
“BEFORE ME, the undersigned authority, appeared [accuser’s name redacted] who being duly sworn, stated:
I am a witness in criminal Case Number No. 1169980 in the State of Texas vs. ALBERT ALFONZO GARZA [Mala-Nina], wherein the defendant is charged with the offense of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child Under 14.
It is my personal desire that the defendant not be further prosecuted for the offense and that the case presently pending against the defendant be dismissed. I do not wish to testify against the defendant as a witness, although I am aware that I can be compelled to do so if subpoenaed by the State.
I have not been compelled, threatened, or coerced to sign this affidavit in any manner. Nor have I been offered any bribe or improper inducement as a benefit or reward for signing this affidavit. My action in signing this affidavit is knowingly, voluntarily, and freely undertaken on my part.”
The above affidavit is not to be confused with a retraction of the original testimony of the Plaintiff. It does however, beg the question, “Why?” After the trial had gone on as long as it had, and before the jury had reached a decision on 18 September 2009, why would the child suddenly have a change of heart about the proceedings of the case? It may not be a blatant admission of Mala-Nina’s innocence, but certainly it is worth the consideration that the case — or rather, the handlings of the case — were not properly aligned with the events that took place.
Other details should be considered when reporting on this trial, as well. The first of which being that during an interview, Mala-Nina (who then identified as a gay man) was questioned about the nature of her sexual orientation, at which time she stated that she was a homosexual man. It is stated in page six of the Motion In Limine that, “The interviewer then elicited a great deal of details from the Defendant about the origins, history, and development of his sexual preference.” It was the belief of the Defense then (and remains to be so now) that after discovering Mala-Nina’s sexual identification, the State may have taken prejudice upon the Defendant and the case as a whole, which is why this issue is brought up in the Motion In Limine. The Defense — in order to leave no room for prejudices based on sexuality — wanted this testimony thrown out. In a case like Mala-Nina’s, which was presided over by Judge Mary Lou Keel — a registered Republican and member of the GOP — this Motion In Limine is especially important, as Republicans have a less than positive history with LGBTQIA issues and stand for “traditional family values”.
Another noteworthy piece of information goes back to the jury itself. While reviewing a document titled “General Orders of the Court” dated 18 September 2009, it is found that the jury was, “[…] deadlocked.” It further went on to state, “State requested an Allen Charge and the Defense objected. Court grants the State’s request.” In layman’s terms, an Allen Charge is an order set forth when a jury is deadlocked and cannot reach a verdict. The typical use of this is to have the minority of the jury reconsider their stance on the pending verdict as to prevent a hung jury. It is also worth noting that Allen Charges have been rejected and prohibited in twenty-two states across the U.S., Texas not being one of them (see the case of Early v. Packer, 537 US 3 that describes California’s rejection of Allen Charges). When the jury did return later, however, they had come to a unanimous decision that the Mala-Nina was guilty, although they suggested that a ten-year sentence be probated rather than served in prison. This final detail may be indicative that, although the decision finally became unanimous, there was still room for doubt as to whether or not Mala-Nina was truly guilty.
With all these facts in mind — albeit, possibly too many to absorb all at once — questions still loom as to the truth about what — if anything — happened between Mala-Nina and the accuser. While the Court found Mala-Nina guilty, she has since been meeting with an attorney to further evaluate her options and maintains her innocence in the case. We cannot predict what will come of these efforts, but we can state that the details outlined in the above article are a matter of public record and are able to be obtained and reviewed by any citizen and encourage anyone with more questions to do so. As it stands now (and as mentioned at the beginning of the article) former Drag Queen Story Time directors Trent Lira and Devin Will released a public statement in Houstonia Magazine where they announced that they would be stepping away from the program, and explained their decision to do so. This morning, the Houston Chronicle reported that in spite of this, the City of Houston had initiated plans to resume the program in the future, possibly as early as the summer of this year. The story of Tatiana Mala-Nina and of Drag Queen Story Time is ongoing. About Magazine will continue to provide all of the details as they come to light and unfold.
Both KHOU Channel 11 Houston and MassResistance were reached out to for comment. Neither responded to About Magazine’s outreach.
BREAKING: Pride Houston Unveils ‘Summer of ’69’ Theme for 2019
Tonight, Pride Houston unveiled the theme for its upcoming 2019 celebration: Summer of ’69. The theme marks many important historical landmarks, such as the moon landing and the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots
(HOUSTON) — Tonight at Guava Lamp on Waugh, Pride Houston hosted its annual logo and theme unveiling for the forthcoming celebration that will take place on June 22nd, 2019 at City Hall. Last year, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit blended a Wizard of Oz theme with their groundbreaking Dear Pride campaign for their 40th anniversary celebration, which featured a performance by headliner Todrick Hall. This year, the organization is taking things to the next level, and revealed that its theme will be Summer of ’69.
For the LGBTQIA+ community, the actual summer of 1969 was important, as on June 28th, 1969, the riots began outside the historic Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village in Manhattan, NY. These riots against police began after a random and homophobic raid by police at the legendary NYC gay bar. Moreover, the Stonewall Riots are near-universally considered the beginning of LGBTQIA+ liberation and the roots of what would come to be a queer civil rights movement in the United States that continues on today. Other note-worthy events that took place that year include the Moon Landing and Woodstock.
At the event tonight, Pride Houston took the time to introduce its elongated ensemble of board directors and production team members (a full list will be updated here tomorrow). Hosted by comedian Thrifty Newman, the event was heavily attended by Houston’s LGBTQIA+ royalty, including photographer Dalton Dehart, historian JD Doyle, politician and activist Monica Roberts, singer Christina Edwards Wells, author Jolanda Jones, and many more. The bar was far more packed than any average Thursday at Guava. While president and CEO (who was recently dubbed one of About Magazine’s Best of 2018) introduced the new board and production team, marketing director Daniel Cato revealed the logo and theme to an overzealous crowd that was more than eager to see what Pride Houston had in store for the following year. The board and production team, as noted by many, has not only grown in the last year, but has also become much more diverse, with several more people of color now stewarding the ship going into the organization’s 41st year. Grand marshal nominees for 2019 are as follows:
Male-Identifying Grand Marshal:
- Eric Edward Schell
- Harrison Guy
- Jason Black
Female-Identifying Grand Marshal:
- Jamie Lopez
- Shannon Baldwin
- Iris Rodriguez
Non-Binary Grand Marshal:
- Mike Webb
- Becca Keo-Meier
- Julian Gomez
Ally Grand Marshal:
- Erika Richie
- Marian Luntz
- Constable Alan Rosen
BREAKING: Houston/Montrose Restaurant Baba Yega Catches Fire
The beloved Houston/Montrose restaurant, Baba Yega, reportedly caught fire Friday night during the dangerous storms.
(HOUSTON) — Bruch-time favorite eatery Baba Yega reportedly set fire during the nasty storms rolling through the city late Friday night. While it is not yet clear whether or not the storms had anything to do with the building fire, multiple sources across social media nearby have reported that the building has, in fact, been seen in flames. More information will be available as it is made available to About Magazine.
The quaint Montrose cafe which was named after a Slavic witch (according to the restaurant’s website) has been a favorite of the neighborhood and LGBTQ community since 1975. What was once a bungalow was eventually converted into the staple eatery with several spots on its campus both indoors and outdoors for guests to dine. Baba Yega is frequently packed to capacity for Sunday brunches, and also is equipped with private rooms for parties and events. Baba Yega’s owners are large supporters of the LGBTQ community and consistently make an effort to give back to local nonprofits, Montrose, and queer people.
This is a developing story.
Stacy Bailey to Receive Award at About 10th Anniversary Party
Stacy Bailey, the LGBTQ Dallas Area teacher who was placed on leave from her Mansfield ISD school last school year for showing a picture of her wife to students, will receive an award at About Magazine’s 10th Anniversary Party this November.
(HOUSTON/DALLAS) — On November 22nd, Houston’s LGBTQ publication About Magazine will be turning ten-years-old. And as an LGBTQ magazine, we find that it is only fitting to celebrate with an over-the-top, stereotypical, spectacle of a party. While plans are still underway for the celebration — including a headliner, local entertainers, sponsors, and more — what is confirmed is that the party will be taking place on November 17th at Rich’s Houston, where guests will be invited to the club before its normal operating hours and into those to see local talent such as Morena Roas, Wade in the Sonic Joy, the Space Kiddettes, Wendy Taylor, a host of drag performers, and more perform, as well as to see two surprise celebrity performances. VIP seating and bottle service will be available to those patrons who so wish to join in for a little extra fun.
The magazine will also be honoring its writers, its founder (Cade Michals), its CCO (Wendy Taylor), and its editor-in-chief (Anthony Ramirez), as well as the community that has kept it alive for the last ten years. A brand new special will go to and be named after Stacy Bailey, the Mansfield ISD teacher from Dallas who was put on leave last year after showing her young art students a photo of her wife when showing pictures of her family. After a parent complained, Bailey was removed from the classroom and took the school district to court. Bailey has since been reinstated in a Mansfield ISD classroom, only this time teaching high school art at a neighboring institution. It is because of Bailey’s resilience and activism for her rights — and in turn, those of all LGBTQ people — during her time out of the class room that About Magazine will give away its first ever Stacy Bailey Queer Advocacy Award. The award will be given annually to LGBTQIA Texans who stand up against the injustices of systemic homophobia and transphobia.
Bailey was alerted of the news ahead of this announcement and was excited by the honor. While she will be out of the country at the time, Bailey will appear in an acceptance speech via prerecorded video.
More information about the party is to be released as plans unfold.
About Magazine Dallas Gets New Managing Editor, Christine Muir
As of Friday, September 7th, About Magazine’s editor-in-chief, Anthony Ramirez, and chief creative officer, Wendy Taylor, have hired Christine Muir to be the managing editor of its Dallas portion of the popular LGBTQ site.
(DALLAS) – About Magazine is an ever-growing company that has in the last year has not only expanded into book publishing and television production, but has also expanded its reach into the Dallas market. And with all the many changes and additions has come the need for new staff members in all departments of the magazine. The newest member of About Magazine’s large staff, includes the new managing editor of About Magazine Dallas, Christine Muir.
As stated in her staff biography on the About Magazine staff page, Christine “Chris” Muir is the Managing Editor for About Dallas. Chris has been writing since her fourth-grade teacher encouraged her to pursue it, and she graduated with a B.A. in English from Texas Christian University and is currently working on a City and Regional Planning Masters from University of Texas at Arlington. She is also an amateur Drag King who performs, when she can, with the H-Town Kings at Pearl Bar in Houston. Any free-time not spent writing for her numerous projects is spent working on her cosplays and crossplays for various comic and anime conventions around Texas and advocating for the LGBTQ community within fandom culture. She tries her hardest to live by her mantra: You’re going to be amazing. Chris lives and works out of Irving, Texas.
Christine will serve under editor-in-chief, Anthony Ramirez, and chief creative officer, Wendy Taylor, duties will include managing the content for the Dallas portion of the website, connecting with local LGBTQ members of the community and businesses in order to serve Dallas’s queer culture and community, and working alongside the many other About staffers to bring the best and most influential content to the LGBTQ in Texas and beyond.
Read Kathy Griffin’s Power Pride Portrait Statement Here
While in Houston for her Laugh Your Head Off tour, comedy queen Kathy Griffin stopped by Pride Portraits to pay our friend Eric Edward Schell a visit, snap a few pics, and make a statement about her relationship with the LGBTQ community.
(HOUSTON) – While in town for her stand-up performance at Jones Hall Monday, August 20th, stand-up comic and comedian Kathy Griffin let friend of About Magazine Eric Edward Schell of Pride Portraits backstage before the show (you can visit Pride Portraits’ site by clicking the photo below). While there, Schell snapped a pick and Griffin made a statement about her relationship to the LGBTQ community. The photo snapped by Schell was released today (in which she wears the very same dress from her scandalicious Trump head photo), as well as her powerful statement about resistance and the LGBTQIA community:
“What defines resistance for me as an ally to the LGBTQIA is actions. There is nothing like doing actual door-to-door canvasing. I think the most important thing is educating people of all communities, especially the LGBTQIA community. Elections are every year. I have friends who get excited for the Presidential election every four years and the truth is, thanks to this crazy administration, that it’s the down ballot, it’s the local Attorney General, it’s the local Lt. Gov. They are actually the deciders of our human rights and our civil rights. As you know, nationally the GOP has been trying to dismantle the progression of minorities, in my opinion, since the civil rights act of 1965. They have been slow and methodical and played a long game. What I admire about the LGBTQIA community is that it’s a community that knows how to mobilize. I always say as a feminist, “We’ve got to learn from the gays, as women we bitch and moan, but gays actually get legislation done, they write bills, put candidates up and get them elected.” So honestly it’s about getting mobilized. Things like the bathroom bill, that isn’t a federal law, that’s somebody on a local level. I believe in what I lovingly call voter fraud, which is when I take to my own social media and I say, “All right gays, it’s not rock the vote, its vote for whoever I fucking tell you to vote for.” With this President it’s shirts and skins. We can’t keep playing nice. I don’t care about getting into the heads of angry white Republican men; it’s a fake narrative they’ve been given. In terms of the gay community, I don’t put anything past the GOP. I’m scared for equal marriage, but I fear we need to be worried about basic rights. We have a lot of work to do in the trans community too. For November 6th, we have to go back to basics; we need people to realize they can loose their rights. We need to make sure black people can get to the fucking polls. Educating people about what gerrymandering is. We have to start thinking long game.”
The 57-year-old comedian made headlines last year and sparked public outrage after posting a photo of herself holding what appeared to be President Donald Trump’s head covered in blood (but was really a Halloween mask doused in ketchup). The stunt lost Griffin many connections and gigs, including her annual New Year’s Eve hosting gig at CNN with former friend Anderson Cooper. The photo made Kathy Griffin famous in a brand new way, as she became the only comedy icon in all of American history to be personally attacked and targeted by a sitting President of the United States (something Donald Trump is known for doing on Twitter since his inauguration). While many of her Hollywood friends spoke out against her, many came to her defense. Recently Gilmore Girls & Marvelous Mrs. Maisel creator Amy Sherman Palladino told the Hollywood Reporter she was shocked by how Griffin’s colleagues “[…] hung that girl out to dry […]”. After a public apology she has since renounced, Griffin has made a terrific and successful comeback without an agent or manager, as she recently told Houston’s OutSmart. She sold out Jones Hall last night to a standing ovation and a very-pleased crowd.
Griffin, who has won two Emmy’s for her previous reality show Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List and one Grammy for her comedy album Calm Down Gurrrl. Since her earliest days as a stand-up comedian, Griffin has been an outspoken proponent of the LGBTQ community through her comedy, film work, and advocacy. In the time that has passed since her photo last June, however, many have come around to Kathy Griffin’s bold statement with the Trump head.
Regardless of what’s been said or done, Houston’s LGBTQ community is happy to have Griffin on our side and welcome her back anytime.
Pride Portraits is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit run by LGBTQIA Houstonian and advocate Eric Edward Schell, whom you can contact and follow by using the links below. Schell is an outspoken activist for LGBTQIA rights in the community as well as on social media and through his work. His nonprofit has worked in the past and continues to work with and photograph companies, individuals, and organizations throughout the country such as SXSW, HEB, Alyssa Milano, Monica Roberts, Beto O’Rourke, and many more. The mission of Pride Portraits, as stated on their website, is as follows:
Our mission is to visually represent the LGBTQIA community one photograph and story at a time. Visibility for our community is key to promote the humanization of a community that is dehumanized every single day.
Follow Pride Portraits:
BREAKING: Houston’s El Real Seems to Respond to El Tiempo Controversy
Montrose-favorite Tex-Mex restaurant, El Real, seemed to respond to the controversy surrounding its neighbor, El Tiempo, with a sweet marquee message.
(HOUSTON) – Montrose — Houston’s very own, historic “gayborhood” — is known for its bright lights, fun nightlife, well-attended events, and displays of grandeur. And no local business is quite the part of that as El Real Tex-Mex Cafe. Located at 1201 Westheimer just yards from the intersection of Montrose Blvd., El Real has been serving Montrose patrons for years and boasts a marquee even larger than that of the the historic River Oaks Theater … or even Trader Joe’s. Following the controversy that transpired when local Houston staple El Tiempo Cantina posted photos to all of the social media accounts for each of their restaurants featuring U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, it would appear as if El Real is making a courageous statement regarding the topic of heated discussion.
Sunday, a photograph of El Real’s marquee was taken by Pride Portraits owner Eric Edward Schell and shared to social media, which read:
“Brunch sessions at El rEAL ARE ALWAYS CAGE FREE AND FULL OF RAINBOWS.”
The clever quip played not only on the separation of immigrant parents from their children — the latter forced into detention camps — but also reminded Montrose residents and frequenters of the LGBTQ community that at least one of their restaurants does not tolerate the bigotry of Sessions’ political stances and actions … while also boasting an ingenuity-filled nod at the U.S. Attorney General’s surname.
As About Magazine first reported late Friday evening (which was later picked up by national news outlets such as Newsweek), El Tiempo found themselves under fire amongst Houstonians (especially those who identify as LGBTQ and Latino) when the U.S. Attorney General entered the establishment for a meal Friday afternoon. After an outcry of backlash on social media (prompting the hashtag #BoycottElTiempo) due to Sessions’ stances on the LGBTQ+ community and his part in the separation of immigrant parents from their children, El Tiempo released a statement via their social media shown below:
Even after deleting the photograph of Sessions and executive chef Domenic Laurenzo, social media criers continued to insist that El Tiempo not be frequented. The logic lay two-fold: Sessions is an avid antagonist to migrant Americans from Mexico, as well as the fact that El Tiempo’s Montrose and Westheimer locations are usually visited by people of color and the LGBTQ community. Some even took to their social media to remind the restaurant chain that it was those two marginalized peoples that had kept the doors of the original El Tiempo open, operating, and expanding since 1998. El Tiempo soon closed down all its social media platforms and has remained hushed over this past weekend.
El Tiempo has been a popular Houston Tex-Mex chain since 1998, when Domenic Tiempo — eldest son of Houston restaurant legend “Mama” Ninfa Laurenzo, restaurant proprietor of the Mama Ninfa’s restaurants — opened the Richmond location. Mama Ninfa’s restaurants were in the Laurenzo family until the 1990s, when bankruptcy struck Laurenzo. Laurenzo was also at the helm of Bambolino’s, a popular Italian restaurant that went on to accrue a total of 17 locations.
Some were unsurprised by the photo, as the Houston Chronicle reported in 2016 that restaurant owner and brother to the executive chef, Roland Laurenzo, had expressed publicly his support for sitting-president Donald J. Trump. Cognizant of this fact or not, many previous patrons of the chain have sworn loyalty to not returning to El Tiempo.
BREAKING: El Tiempo Owner Releases Statement Regarding Jeff Sessions
El Tiempo Cantina owner, Roland Laurenzo, has released a statement regarding the Jeff Sessions photo posted on all their social media accounts earlier this evening, as well as the #BoycottElTiempo campaign.
(HOUSTON) – In a story broken by About Magazine earlier this evening, Houston’s once-renowned Mexican restaurant chain, El Tiempo, was met with a great deal of criticism following a photo of restaurant executive chef, Domenic Laurenzo, posing with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The LGBTQ community especially did not react well to this photo, creating the hashtag #BoycottElTiempo on social media platforms. Restaurant owner Roland Laurenzo has taken to social media to make a statement just minutes ago about the photo. A screenshot captured from the Facebook page of the soon-closing Montrose location can be seen here:
The restaurant chain, which has been in business since 1998 to a well-established Houston restauranteur family — also once having been the family behind Houston’s now-defunct Mama Ninfa’s — was already looking to the closure of the Montrose location due to an apartment complex being built in its place.
Sessions is part of the mastermind behind the separation of immigrant parents from their children which has been the subject of heated discussion lately. He is also notoriously anti-LGBTQ, having worked to enable many states across the U.S. to enact laws allowing discrimination. His wild unpopularity in both the LGBTQ and Latino communities could prove to be a large punch for the El Tiempo chain, which caters to large numbers of LGBTQ and Latino customers, specifically at the Montrose location.
This is a developing story.
Breaking: Boycott El Tiempo Hashtag Surfaces After Jeff Sessions Visit
Today, 10 August 2018, the hashtag #BoycottElTiempo began after the Mexican restaurant chain posted photos to each of their locations’ social media pages with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
(HOUSTON) – El Tiempo Cantina has been serving Houstonians since its Richmond location opened in 1998. The company was started by the Domenic Laurenzo, the eldest son of historic Houston restauranteur, Ninfa Laurenzo (known for Houston’s Mama Ninfa’s Tex Mex). As of late, El Tiempo has made the news cycle when they announced that their longtime Montrose location would be closing July 31 — which has since been postponed until after the August month according to the restaurant’s Facebook page — to make room for a new apartment building in the historic ‘gayborhood.’ But now El Tiempo is in the news again (and some agua caliente) for another reason.
Tonight, screenshots of social media posts by all El Tiempo locations all around Houston began to surface, captioned with “#BoycottElTiempo” after the company’s social media pages posted photos of executive chef of the restaurant chain and El Tiempo founder, Domenic Laurenzo, with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The caption on the photo read:
“We had the honor to serve Mr. Jeff Sessions, Attorney General of the United States. Thank you for allowing us to serve you.”
Sessions is not a popular politician among the LGBTQIA community. After being appointed Attorney General of the United States by President Donald J. Trump in February of 2017, Sessions wasted no time in rolling back LGBTQ rights and protections. In fact his track record with our community includes, but is not limited to:
- Withdrawing a preliminary injunction against North Carolina’s anti-transgender House Bill 2, which until that time had kept the state from discriminating against transgender people.
- Was in-part behind the separation of immigrant parents from their children.
- Cancelling quarterly calls with LGBTQ organizations.
- Filed a brief with the Supreme Court that stated business owners had the right to discriminate against LGBTQ patrons.
- Put forth the “License to Discriminate” guidance, which more or less outlined a legal path for discrimination against LGBTQ people, women, and other minorities.
And that’s just to name a few. Social media posts and reactions from various Houstonians have inundated Facebook and Twitter:
Residents of the Montrose area were deeply disappointed in July when El Tiempo announced its impending closure. Now, however, it seems like they’re singing a different tune. Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.