CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Two South Texas men have received the maximum 15-year sentences in federal prison after pleading guilty to federal hate crime charges in the March 2012 torture of a gay African-American man in Corpus Christi.
Ramiro Serrata Jr. (23) and Jimmy Garza (33) were sentenced Wednesday in Corpus Christi by Senior U.S. District Judge Hayden Head. Both men must pay the victim $10,800 in restitution, serve three years of supervised release and register as sex offenders. Both pleaded guilty last September.
The indictment alleges that on Mar. 8, 2012, Garza and Serrata conspired to assault a gay, African-American man because of his race, color and sexual orientation. According to the indictment, the defendants invited the male victim into an apartment in Corpus Christi then assaulted him while calling him racial and homophobic epithets. Over the course of approximately three hours, the conspirators allegedly punched and kicked the victim and assaulted him with various dangerous weapons, including, a frying pan, a coffee mug, a belt and a chair. During the assault, the conspirators poured a household cleaning agent or chemical solution onto the victim’s face and eyes, pistol whipped him with a handgun and whipped him with a belt, according to Federal Department of Justice.
When the victim began to bleed, the defendants allegedly forced him to remove all of his clothing and clean up the blood throughout the apartment.
The indictment further alleges that after the victim was completely naked, the defendants sodomized him using a broom or mop and another unknown object.
Throughout the assault, the defendants repeatedly called the man racial and homophobic slurs and made other anti-black and anti-gay statements, according to legal documents. The conspirators also allegedly prevented the victim from leaving the apartment by physical force and threats of force. The man eventually escaped the apartment by jumping out of a window.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Corpus Christi Resident Agency with assistance from the Corpus Christi Police Department and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Jared Fishman and Nicholas Durham of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ruben Perez of the Southern District of Texas.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Houston LGBTQ Community Steps Up Following Hurricane Harvey
LGBT Houston Shines Following Hurricane Harvey: Looking At The True Acts Of Kindness From The Houston LGBTQ+ Community After One Of The Worst Hurricanes In American History
A Special Two Part Series
(HOUSTON) — Standing outside Houston’s LGBTQ community center, The Montrose Center, in the early afternoon of Thursday, August 24th, you could see Hurricane Harvey was approaching Houston. The sky was dark, and the winds had arrived. The rainfall would come only hours later and would last for several days without relent until Wednesday, August 30, 2017.
During and in the wake of the storm an innumerable amount of Houstonians lost their homes, vehicles, pets, possessions, while some even less fortunate lost their lives and those close to them. Our great city was devastated!
The attention of the entire nation turned to Texas. With that attention, came the influx of aid from all over. Louisiana’s Cajun Navy responded to need, shuttling down boats and volunteers to rescue people from the deadly flooding. According to the National Weather Service, areas of Houston received over 50” of rain.
“I wanted to feel like I could do something. We all felt powerless. We can’t do anything to stop a hurricane, but we can do something afterward.”– Michael Glazner
The American Red Cross set up the state’s largest shelter-in-place at Houston’s downtown George R. Brown convention center. Initially housing 10,000 evacuees, other facilities were opened including NRG Arena and the Toyota Center.
Hurricane Harvey’s devastation became infamous with celebrities such as Kevin Hart, Sandra Bullock, Chelsea Handler, and Ellen DeGeneres contributing large sums of money to relief efforts. Cristela Alonzo, comedian, and actress from Texas and an adamant LGBTQ+ ally went so far as to research shelter locations needing supplies and volunteers.
As an estimated 32,000 people were displaced from their homes in Harris County, Houston’s truest acts of heroism from local citizens began to shine. NRG, George R. Brown, Houston Food Bank, Pets Alive, to BARC and Gallery Furniture and many other facilities set up as shelters were inundated with volunteers.
As #HurricaneHarvey pounded Houston with rain, members of Houston’s LGBT pride organization, Pride Houston, Inc., went into action collecting contributions and left over supplies (from Houston’s June Pride Celebration) for delivery to the George R. Brown Convention Center for people in need. Items like bottled water, clothing were donated.
In the days since the storm social media has been overwhelmed with photos and posts from Houston’s LGBTQ+ community. Images of volunteers helping one another, and posts details someone’s random acts of kindness. There are so many.
“It seems like our community has either had to step up for themselves for so many years or by extension have gotten used to stepping up for other people and helping out,” former ‘Friends of Pride’ committee co-chair Michael Glazner said to About Magazine.
“I’m impressed, honored, and privileged to be a part of this community, ” Glazner said. Glazner was one of many Pride Houston, Inc. volunteers that assisted during Hurricane Harvey.
Miss Gay Texas Violet S’Arbleu
(HOUSTON) People might associate Texas with yellow roses or bluebonnets, but this year an unmistakably different flower is taking over the state. Houston-based drag entertainer Violet S’Arbleu, née Jacob Chaput, will shower the Lone Star State with a purple reign as the newly crowned Miss Gay Texas America.
“The Miss Gay Texas America legacy is 43 years of stellar, inspirational entertainers,” he says, “and honestly I’m just so humbled and thrilled to have the honor to join those ranks and represent the system this year.”
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Individual Diagnosed With Meningitis After Bunnies On The Bayou
An Individual Who Attended Easter Weekend’s Bunnies On The Bayou In Houston Has Been Diagnosed With Meningococcal Meningitis According To Health Officials!
(Houston) – An individual who attended Bunnies on the Bayou on Easter Sunday has been diagnosed with Meningococcal Meningitis, the City of Houston’s Health Department announced late Saturday. Health officials and Bunnies on the Bayou are in the process of notifying attendees.
‘There may be unrecognized cases who were in close contact with this person,’ a e-mail released to the LGBT community from Bunnies on the Bayou explains. ‘This is an example of public health in action in order to prevent further cases.’
“The City of Houston Health Department contacted us about one person who was confirmed and treated,” Josh Beasley, board member for Bunnies on the Bayou explained to About News. BOTB is an non-profit, and one of Houston’s oldest and most prestigious organizations that raises money to help many different LGBTQ charities.
“To our knowledge, this is the first time in 40 years something like this has happened,” Beasley says.
Meningococcal meningitis is a rare but serious infection that can be fatal or cause great harm without prompt treatment. As many as one out of five people who contract the infection have serious complications.
Each year, approximately 1,000 people in the U.S. get meningococcal meningitis, which includes meningitis and septicemia (blood infection). According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 15% of those who survive are left with disabilities that include deafness, brain damage, and neurological problems.
“The epidemiologist said there was a lower risk of transmission in this case, but asked if we would email information out just in case,” Beasley said.
The symptoms include sudden onset fever, headache and stiff neck. Nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, and confusion are also symptoms. Symptoms may appear quickly or over several days, typically within 3-7 days after exposure. The virus is not spread by causal contact nor is it airborne.
Officials ask if you have experienced any of the above symptoms please contact your health care provider immediately. For any questions or concerns you may also contact the Houston Health Department at 832-393-5080.
Official FACE Awards Nominations Released In Houston
The 2016 FACE Awards Announced The Official Nominees For The 5th Annual FACE Awards Today.
HOUSTON — NOV 11— The LGBTQ+ FACE Awards today announced the nominees in grand style from Houston headquarters of CBS Radio. Sarah Pepper of Houston Hot.95.7, and Lauren Kelly of Mix 96.5 had the honors of announcing the twenty-one category list of Houston’s best of. Joining them, Joey Guerra of the Houston Chronicle. To cast your vote visit www.faceawards.org
FACE Awards kicked off their annual voting season today launching their new website, where anyone can vote for their favorite community personality. The voting last for two weeks, then the votes are tallied up. The winners will not be announced until the FACE Awards live ceremony in December.
Avenue 360 Health & Wellness presents the 2016 FACE Awards brought to you by Smirnoff Vodka takes place on Monday, December 12, 2016. The CBS Radio ‘Hot’ Red-Carpet Preshow starts at 7PM.
Volunteer Of The Year
Activist Of The Year
Dee Dee Waters
Non-Profit Of The Year
The Montrose Center
Houston Gay Kids
The Diana Foundation
Transgender Foundation of America
Entertainer Of The Year
Bartender Of The Year
Chris Tyer for Richs Nightclub
Sarah Tompkins Gutierrez for Ripcord
Christopher Hunter for Guava Lamp
Jake Quinney for JR’s Bar & Grill
Event Of The Year
LGBT Pride Parade Celebration,
The Diana Awards
Rainbow on the Green
Annual Girl Jam
Dessie’s Drag Race
Business Of The Year
George County Sports Bar
Barista Of The Year
Bryant for Stabucks Montrose
Kent for Stabucks Montrose
Forest for Stabucks Montrose
Cheryl Jacobson-Custer for Stabucks Montrose
Social Media Personality Of The Year
Best Actor, Actress of the Year
Business Owner of the Year
Julie Mabry for Pearl Bar
Irwin Palchick for F Bar Houston
Bailey Moore for State Farm Insurance Montrose
Dianna Wilde for Floss Dental Midtown
George Konar for George Country Sports Bar
Politician Of The Year
Kim Ogg for Harris County District Attorney-Elect
Alan Rosen for Constable Precinct One
Sylvester Turner for Mayor of the City of Houston
Garnett Coleman for State Representive
John Whitmire for Texas Senate
Nightclub Of The Year
South Beach Nightclub
F Bar Houston
Neon Boots Dancehall
DJ Of The Year
DJ Jimmy Skinner
DJ Joe Ross
DJ Patrick Ukemi
Restaurant of the Year
The Breakfast Klub
Creative Artist Of The Year
Journalist Of The Year
Community Personality of The Year
Kofi, Alexye’us Paris
Personal Trainer of The Year
Real Estate Agent of The Year
Philanthropist of The Year
Drag Performer of The Year
Chloe T. Crawford
To cast your vote for one of the above names, please visit www.faceawards.org
Trial Starts For Texas Man Accused Of Raping And Shooting Lesbian Teen Couple
The trial of David Strickland, accused of shooting, raping, and stripping a young lesbian couple before killing one execution style has begun.
HOUSTON Sept. 21 — The trial for a man accused in the brutal shooting of a couple in Corpus Christi four years ago is underway.
David Strickland is accused of shooting and raping Mollie Olgin, 19 and her partner Mary Chapa, 18 in June 2012 at a small park near Portland, Tx. He is charged with capital murder, aggravated sexual assault, and aggravated assault. Strickland has pled not guilty.
The couple was discovered in the park by a couple bird watching. Olgin died at the scene resulting from a gunshot wound to the head, her partner Chapa survived but lost functionality to the left side of her body.
At the scene, investigators discovered two .45-caliber bullet casings, cigarette butts, beer cans, a can of iced tea, and other bottles.