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Join us

for a luncheon with keynote speaker Laverne Cox as we honor her along with Mayor Sylvester Turner and Karen Winston, LCSW. Through their lives and work, these individuals embody the College’s vision of achieving social, racial, economic, and political justice, local to global.


Proceeds will fund scholarships for social work students.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 The Post Oak at Uptown Houston 1600 West Loop South Noon-1:30pm


MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER Bobbi & Vic Samuels Spirit of Social Work Award

KAREN WINSTON, LCSW Social Work Excellence Award

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R ANDY R AINBOW, page 30


TASTE THE RAINBOW YouTube star takes apart Trump, one show tune at a time



Michael and Steven Byrum-Bratsen would be Texas’ first elected same-sex couple





HISD superintendent Richard Carranza talks bathrooms, queer-inclusive curriculum, and more

Out director stages play about Matthew Shepard’s murder in conservative Lake Jackson

Couple debates whether to abort gay fetus in Theatre Suburbia show

Thirty-ninth annual Easter extravaganza moves up the bayou









For George Appling, Sherwood Forest festival fulfilled a lifelong dream

Gay actor says 50-year-old Hair is as relevant as ever

Out publicist Maxwell Batista helps bring Corteo to Houston

Houston’s only LGBTQ volleyball league serves up its 30th season









Harvey’s impact, LGBTQ-friendly enclaves, and more

Galveston Realtor Tom Schwenk launches his own company— so he can give back more

Automotive trends for 2018

Robert Montgomery and Larry Ellis, and Micki Grimland and Mary Margaret Bodenhamer



6 | MARCH 2018 |




Take an active role in your health. Ask your doctor if an HIV medicine made by Gilead is right for you. GILEAD and the GILEAD Logo are trademarks of Gilead Sciences, Inc. © 2017 Gilead Sciences, Inc. All rights reserved. UNBC4619 06/17

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Facing the challenges of long-term care: LGBTQ adults should plan ahead for unique issues


OUTSMART ’s readers and recommendations

A R T S & E N T E R TA I N M E N T

Winner Best Financial Planner








Sally Field, Tony Kushner, Angela Robinson, Gus Kenworthy, and Molly McNearney

DVDS Born in Flames Elton John, Jason Gould, Sam Smith, Rostam Batmanglij, Patrick Boothe, and more

Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution and Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity


IT'S YOUR LIFE. LIVE IT WITH PRIDE. Serving the Planning Needs of the LGBT Community.

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Insurance Representative of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). Springfield, MA 01111-0001, and its affiliated US insurance companies. Local sales agencies are not subsidiaries of MassMutual or its affiliated companies.

8 | MARCH 2018 |

Story Hole returns to Rec Room on April 5 for the third installment of the queer storytelling showcase. Read our full preview at


Design INTO CASH your Future



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Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Greg Jeu Creative Director/Entertainment Associate Publisher Tom Fricke Editor

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Assistant Editor Megan E. Smith Graphic Artist Terry Klumpp Contributing Writers Rich Arenschieldt, Susan Bankston, Jenny Block, Contributing WritersEdmonson, Rich Arenschieldt, Karen Derr, Andrew Steven Foster, Susan Goldberg, Bankston, Marene Aisha Bouderdaben, David Gustin, Kim Troy Carrington,James Kit van Cleave, Curtis, Hogstrom, Hurst, JoshAngel Inocéncio, Shirley Karen Derr, Foster, Goldberg, Knight, RyanSteven M. Leach, Don David Maines, Joanna D.L. Groover, MareneTerri Gustin, Blake Hayes, O’Leary, Lilly Roddy, Schlichenmeyer, Suzie Lynde, Donalevan Maines,Henry David-V. Gregg Shapiro, Janice Stensrude, Elijah Megan Nahmod, Neil Ellis Orts, Lilly Roddy, Thiel, Wadding, Lou Weaver, Brandon Terri Schlichenmeyer, Gregg Zavaleta Shapiro, Janice Wolf, Grace S. Yung, Lourdes Stensrude, Brandon Wolf, Grace S. Yung Photographers/Illustrators


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Sunday, May 6 | 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. | The Ballroom at Bayou Place Featuring Victory Fund President & CEO, Mayor Annise Parker

The Victory Fund Houston Champagne Brunch brings together over 400 prominent members of the Texas LGBTQ community, business leaders, elected and endorsed officials and Victory supporters from across the region. Join us in supporting Victory Fund’s efforts to recruit, train and elect openly LGBTQ leaders at all levels of government. 12 | MARCH 2018 |

Tables available at or call Emily Hammell at 202.567.3318 VictoryOUTSMARTad1-2018.indd 1

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pring has sprung— and as it turns out, there is a campy rainbow-colored lining, if you will, to the dark cloud of the Trump administration. Artists like Randy Rainbow are thriving (while keeping hope and humor alive) as part of the Resistance. The gay YouTube star is bringing his show to Texas this month, with an appearance at Houston’s House of Blues on March 23. For our March cover story, writer Kim Hogstrom spoke with the man behind those hilarious viral show-tune parodies of the president and his merry band of misfits. Elsewhere in this issue, I report on my recent chat with Houston Independent School District’s superintendent, Richard Carranza, who has made headlines with his unprecedented support for LGBTQ equality. Meanwhile, with voting under way for the March primary elections, we continue our “Out for Change” series with Brandon Wolf’s profi le of Michael and Steven Byrum-Bratsen

of Iowa Colony, who could become the first married same-sex couple in Texas in which both spouses hold elected office. In our annual real-estate section, Marene Gustin chats with Galveston’s Tom Schwenk as part of her rundown of the Houston area’s top LGBTQ-friendly Realtors. This issue also includes “What Drives You,” in which James Hurst takes a look at the latest automotive trends. On the entertainment front, Don Maines has previews of several upcoming shows, including Cirque du Soleil at the Toyota Center and a production of The Laramie Project in conservative Brazoria County. Our lovely spring weather also means it’s time for the Sherwood Forest Faire and Bunnies on the Bayou, while the Lone Star Volleyball Association serves up its 30thanniversary season.


BORN THIS GAY Randy Rainbow does Texas. (See page 30.)

Here’s to new beginnings.

Photo courtesy of Randy Rainbow

—John Wright

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What is TRUVADA for PrEP?

Who should not take TRUVADA for PrEP?

TRUVADA for PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a prescription medicine that is used together with safer sex practices to help reduce the risk of getting HIV-1 through sex. This use is only for HIV-negative adults who are at high risk of getting HIV-1. To help determine your risk of getting HIV-1, talk openly with your healthcare provider about your sexual health. Ask your healthcare provider if you have questions about how to prevent getting HIV. Always practice safer sex and use condoms to lower the chance of sexual contact with body fluids. Never reuse or share needles or other items that have body fluids on them.

Do not take TRUVADA for PrEP if you: ® Already have HIV-1 infection or if you do not know your HIV-1 status. If you are HIV-1 positive, you need to take other medicines with TRUVADA to treat HIV-1. TRUVADA by itself is not a complete treatment for HIV-1. If you have HIV-1 and take only TRUVADA, your HIV-1 may become harder to treat over time. ® Also take certain medicines to treat hepatitis B infection.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION What is the most important information I should know about TRUVADA for PrEP? Before taking TRUVADA for PrEP: ® You must be HIV-negative before you start taking TRUVADA for PrEP. You must get tested to make sure that you do not already have HIV-1. Do not take TRUVADA to reduce the risk of getting HIV-1 unless you are confirmed to be HIV-negative. ® Many HIV-1 tests can miss HIV-1 infection in a person who has recently become infected. If you have flu-like symptoms, you could have recently become infected with HIV-1. Tell your healthcare provider if you had a flu-like illness within the last month before starting or at any time while taking TRUVADA for PrEP. Symptoms of new HIV-1 infection include tiredness, fever, joint or muscle aches, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, night sweats, and/or enlarged lymph nodes in the neck or groin. While taking TRUVADA for PrEP: ® You must continue to use safer sex practices. Just taking TRUVADA for PrEP may not keep you from getting HIV-1. ® You must stay HIV-negative to keep taking TRUVADA for PrEP: ® Get tested for HIV-1 at least every 3 months. ® If you think you were exposed to HIV-1, tell your healthcare provider right away. ® To further help reduce your risk of getting HIV-1: ® Know your HIV status and the HIV status of your partners. ® Get tested for other sexually transmitted infections. Other infections make it easier for HIV to infect you. ® Get information and support to help reduce risky sexual behavior, such as having fewer sex partners. ® Do not miss any doses of TRUVADA. Missing doses may increase your risk of getting HIV-1 infection. ® If you do become HIV-1 positive, you need more medicine than TRUVADA alone to treat HIV-1. TRUVADA by itself is not a complete treatment for HIV-1. If you have HIV-1 and take only TRUVADA, your HIV-1 may become harder to treat over time. TRUVADA can cause serious side effects: ® Worsening of hepatitis B (HBV) infection. TRUVADA is not approved to treat HBV. If you have HBV and stop taking TRUVADA, your HBV may suddenly get worse. Do not stop taking TRUVADA without first talking to your healthcare provider, as they will need to monitor your health.

What are the other possible side effects of TRUVADA for PrEP? Serious side effects of TRUVADA may also include: ® Kidney problems, including kidney failure. Your healthcare provider may do blood tests to check your kidneys before and during treatment with TRUVADA. If you develop kidney problems, your healthcare provider may tell you to stop taking TRUVADA. ® Too much lactic acid in your blood (lactic acidosis), which is a serious but rare medical emergency that can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: weakness or being more tired than usual, unusual muscle pain, being short of breath or fast breathing, stomach pain with nausea and vomiting, cold or blue hands and feet, feel dizzy or lightheaded, or a fast or abnormal heartbeat. ® Severe liver problems, which in rare cases can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow, dark “tea-colored” urine, light-colored stools, loss of appetite for several days or longer, nausea, or stomach-area pain. ® Bone problems, including bone pain, softening, or thinning, which may lead to fractures. Your healthcare provider may do tests to check your bones. Common side effects in people taking TRUVADA for PrEP are stomach-area (abdomen) pain, headache, and decreased weight. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effects that bother you or do not go away.

What should I tell my healthcare provider before taking TRUVADA for PrEP? ® All your health problems. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you have or have had any kidney, bone, or liver problems, including hepatitis. ® If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if TRUVADA can harm your unborn baby. If you become pregnant while taking TRUVADA for PrEP, talk to your healthcare provider to decide if you should keep taking TRUVADA. ® If you are breastfeeding (nursing) or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed. If you become HIV-positive, HIV can be passed to the baby in breast milk. ® All the medicines you take, including prescription and over-thecounter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. TRUVADA may interact with other medicines. Keep a list of all your medicines and show it to your healthcare provider and pharmacist when you get a new medicine. ® If you take certain other medicines with TRUVADA, your healthcare provider may need to check you more often or change your dose. These medicines include certain medicines to treat hepatitis C (HCV) infection. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Please see Important Facts about TRUVADA for PrEP including important warnings on the following page.

TVDC0132_PrEP_A_8-125x10-75_OutSmart_Latino_p1.indd 1-2

I'm open-minded, not uninformed. I know who I am. And I make choices that fit my life. TRUVADA for PrEP™ is a once-daily prescription medicine that can help reduce the risk of getting HIV-1 when taken every day and used together with safer sex practices. ® TRUVADA for PrEP is only for adults who are at high risk of getting HIV through sex. ® You must be HIV-negative before you start taking TRUVADA for PrEP.

Ask your doctor about your risk of getting HIV-1 infection and if TRUVADA for PrEP may be right for you. Learn more at

8/10/17 12:12 PM


This is only a brief summary of important information about taking TRUVADA for PrEPTM (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to help reduce the risk of getting HIV-1 infection. This does not replace talking to your healthcare provider about your medicine.

(tru-VAH-dah) MOST IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT TRUVADA FOR PrEP Before starting TRUVADA for PrEP: • You must be HIV-1 negative. You must get tested to make sure that you do not already have HIV-1. Do not take TRUVADA for PrEP to reduce the risk of getting HIV-1 unless you are confirmed to be HIV-1 negative. • Many HIV-1 tests can miss HIV-1 infection in a person who has recently become infected. Symptoms of new HIV-1 infection include flu-like symptoms, tiredness, fever, joint or muscle aches, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, night sweats, and/or enlarged lymph nodes in the neck or groin. Tell your healthcare provider if you have had a flu-like illness within the last month before starting TRUVADA for PrEP. While taking TRUVADA for PrEP: • You must continue to use safer sex practices. Just taking TRUVADA for PrEP may not keep you from getting HIV-1. • You must stay HIV-negative to keep taking TRUVADA for PrEP. Get tested for HIV-1 at least every 3 months while taking TRUVADA for PrEP. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you think you were exposed to HIV-1 or have a flu-like illness while taking TRUVADA for PrEP. • If you do become HIV-1 positive, you need more medicine than TRUVADA alone to treat HIV-1. If you have HIV-1 and take only TRUVADA, your HIV-1 may become harder to treat over time. • See the “How To Further Reduce Your Risk” section for more information. TRUVADA may cause serious side effects, including: • Worsening of hepatitis B (HBV) infection. TRUVADA is not approved to treat HBV. If you have HBV, your HBV may suddenly get worse if you stop taking TRUVADA. Do not stop taking TRUVADA without first talking to your healthcare provider, as they will need to check your health regularly for several months.

ABOUT TRUVADA FOR PrEP TRUVADA for PrEP is a prescription medicine used together with safer sex practices to help reduce the risk of getting HIV-1 through sex. This use is only for HIV-negative adults who are at high risk of getting HIV-1. • To help determine your risk of getting HIV-1, talk openly with your healthcare provider about your sexual health. Do NOT take TRUVADA for PrEP if you: • Already have HIV-1 infection or if you do not know your HIV-1 status. • Take certain medicines to treat hepatitis B infection.

HOW TO TAKE TRUVADA FOR PrEP • Take 1 tablet once a day, every day, not just when you think you have been exposed to HIV-1. • Do not miss any doses. Missing doses may increase your risk of getting HIV-1 infection. • Use TRUVADA for PrEP together with condoms and safer sex practices. • Get tested for HIV-1 at least every 3 months. You must stay HIV-negative to keep taking TRUVADA for PrEP.

POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS OF TRUVADA FOR PrEP TRUVADA can cause serious side effects, including: • Those in the “Most Important Information About TRUVADA for PrEP” section. • New or worse kidney problems, including kidney failure. • Too much lactic acid in your blood (lactic acidosis), which is a serious but rare medical emergency that can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: weakness or being more tired than usual, unusual muscle pain, being short of breath or fast breathing, stomach pain with nausea and vomiting, cold or blue hands and feet, feel dizzy or lightheaded, or a fast or abnormal heartbeat. • Severe liver problems, which in rare cases can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow, dark “tea-colored” urine, light-colored stools, loss of appetite for several days or longer, nausea, or stomach-area pain. • Bone problems. Common side effects in people taking TRUVADA for PrEP include stomach-area (abdomen) pain, headache, and decreased weight. These are not all the possible side effects of TRUVADA. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any new symptoms while taking TRUVADA for PrEP. Your healthcare provider will need to do tests to monitor your health before and during treatment with TRUVADA for PrEP.

BEFORE TAKING TRUVADA FOR PrEP Tell your healthcare provider if you: • Have or have had any kidney, bone, or liver problems, including hepatitis. • Have any other medical conditions. • Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. • Are breastfeeding (nursing) or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed. If you become HIV-positive, HIV can pass to the baby in breast milk. Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take: • Keep a list that includes all prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements, and show it to your healthcare provider and pharmacist. • Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist about medicines that should not be taken with TRUVADA for PrEP.

HOW TO FURTHER REDUCE YOUR RISK • Know your HIV status and the HIV status of your partners. • Get tested for other sexually transmitted infections. Other infections make it easier for HIV to infect you. • Get information and support to help reduce risky sexual behavior, such as having fewer sex partners. • Do not share needles or personal items that can have blood or body fluids on them.

GET MORE INFORMATION • This is only a brief summary of important information about TRUVADA for PrEP. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to learn more, including how to prevent HIV infection. • Go to or call 1-800-GILEAD-5 • If you need help paying for your medicine, visit for program information.

TRUVADA FOR PREP, the TRUVADA FOR PREP Logo, the TRUVADA Blue Pill Design, TRUVADA, GILEAD, and the GILEAD Logo are trademarks of Gilead Sciences, Inc., or its related companies. All other marks referenced herein are the property of their respective owners. Version date: April 2017 © 2017 Gilead Sciences, Inc. All rights reserved. TVDC0132 07/17

TVDC0132_PrEP_A_8-125x10-75_OutSmart_Latino_p1.indd 3

8/10/17 12:12 PM


Four Houstonians among Eight LGBTQ Texans Murdered in 2017 State records highest total in nation, which saw 86 percent increase in deadly hate violence.

By Lourdes Zavaleta



randi Seals grew up misunderstood by her peers. When she transitioned at 14, her classmates physically and verbally attacked her. “She was bullied most of her life,” says her mother, Mazda Seals. “Brandi was beaten, raped, and robbed on several occasions. I constantly feared for her.” Seals says her biggest fear became a reality on December 13, 2017, when she received a call from the Houston Police Department informing her that Brandi, 26, had been found shot to death at the site of an under-construction Sunnyside home. Brandi, a black transgender woman, was at least the eighth LGBTQ person murdered in Texas in 2017, the highest total of any state in the U.S., according to a report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP). “We’ve heard a lot of hate rhetoric from our elected officials, both locally and nationally,” said Lou Weaver, Houston-based transgender programs coordinator for Equality Texas. “With this in place, more people are likely to be anti-LGBTQ. Anti-LGBTQ legislation has led to groupthink and a mob mentality.” At least 52 LGBTQ people were killed nationwide last year as a result of hate-related violence, according to the NCAVP report. That is the highest number in the 20 years that the NCAVP has tracked LGBTQ murders, and represents an 86 percent increase from 2016. “Trump won the election by saying it was time to take back America for people feeling pushed out by LGBTQ people, immigrants, and people of color,” NCAVP executive director Beverly Tillery told the Huffington Post. “It was a tactical move to attack those communities. It worked, and there are more instances of violence because the climate in the country has changed. It has given an opening for people

Not Forgotten Houston police chief Art Acevedo, right, speaks at a vigil outside City Hall in December for transgender murder victim Brandi Seals, as mayor Sylvester Turner looks on. Seals was one of eight LGBTQ Texans murdered in 2017, the most in any state.

to feel like they can commit acts of hate-based violence without much repercussion.” Twenty-seven of the 52 LGBTQ murder victims were trans, and 22 of the trans victims were, like Seals, women of color. Of the eight Texans murdered, four were trans, three were trans women of color, and six were people of color. In 2016, the NCAVP reported the death of only one LGBTQ Texan, Eryka Tijerina, a Latina trans woman. The number of Texas LGBTQ murders jumped to seven in the coalition’s 2017 report, but it did not include Devon Wade, a 28-year-old gay black man who was fatally shot in his Atascocita home on Novem-

ber 26. Wade’s boyfriend, Mario Williams, turned himself in after the shooting and has been charged with murder. Seals’ death is also being investigated as a homicide. Seals was misgendered (or “deadnamed” as male) in media reports about her murder, including by a Houston police detective. Police chief Art Acevedo attended a vigil for Seals outside City Hall and apologized for the detective’s comments, vowing to conduct more training. Seals was correctly identified by Houston activist Atlantis Narcisse, a black trans woman and the founder of Save Our Sisters, a support group for trans women of color. ➝


MARCH 2018




continued from page 12

“Being misgendered speaks volumes about how trans folk are disrespected, even in death,” Narcisse said. “It is time for society to stop creating our narratives.” After growing up in South Houston, Seals transitioned while attending Westfield High School, where she later dropped out because of bullying, according to her mother. In her 20s, Brandi attended Houston Community College and studied cosmetology. Around that time, she also turned to sex work to pay for gender-confirmation surgery. Brandi’s family suspects that a male suitor was responsible for her death. The investigation into Seals’ murder is still in its early stages, according to HPD spokesman Kese Smith. Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS (8477). The other Texas LGBTQ murder victims in 2017 were:

• Glenser Soliman, a 44-year-old gay Asian man who was found dead in Houston on February 25. Authorities believe Soliman was lured to his death while using a dating app. Brandon Lyons has charged with Soliman’s murder. Lyons and his cousin Jerrett Allen, who was also identified as a suspect, may be responsible for more deaths targeting gay men. • An Nguyen, a 26-year-old Asian man who identified as gay, was last seen in Houston on March 31 and is presumed dead. His disappearance has also been linked to Lyons and Allen. Allen has been charged with the unauthorized use of Nguyen’s credit cards. • Kenne McFadden, a 27-year-old black trans woman, was killed in San Antonio on April 8. She was originally misgendered in media reports, and her death was mistakenly classified as a drowning. Her death was reclassified as a homicide and Mark Daniel Lewis has been charged in her murder.

• Robert Lee Covington, a 54-year-old white gay man, was found suffocated to death in his home in Dallas on July 7. According to media reports, a man named Yevin Rushing met Covington on Craigslist and has since been charged in connection with his homicide. • Gwenevere River Song, a 26-year-old white trans person, was fatally shot in Waxahachie on August 12. Song, who used “they” pronouns, was allegedly killed by their father after an argument at home escalated to violence. • Elizabeth Stephanie Montez, a 47-year-old Latinx trans woman, was fatally shot near Robstown on October 21. Authorities and local media both misgendered Montez in initial reports. Police have since arrested and charged three suspects with her murder. Lourdes Zavaleta is a regular contributor to OUTSMART magazine.

C OMMUNIT Y Photos by Dalton DeHart and Edgardo Aguilar

On Feb. 10, OutReach United hosted the Red Hot Party and Live Burlesque at Pearl Bar Houston. Pictured are Jack Berger, Sallie Wyatt-Woodell, Gary Wood, Julie Mabry, Micheal Reeves, Tim Stokes, Bob Briddick, Carol Wyatt-Woodell, and Bryant Johnson-Wood.

On Feb. 3, Rich’s Houston hosted The Fantasy of Las Vegas: A Mystery & Fantasy Mardi Gras Ball. Pictured are hosts and supporters. On Feb. 17, George’s Country Sports Bar hosted a Gumbo Cookoff benefitting the Montrose Center. Pictured are Steve Evans, Walter Pollpeter, and George Konar.

On Jan. 10, Bunnies on the Bayou hosted Honey Bunnies at Neon Boots. Pictured are representatives from Bunnies on the Bayou and beneficiary organizations.

18 | MARCH 2018 |

On Feb. 8, the Alley Theatre hosted ActOUT featuring The Great Society. Pictured are Kevin Pope, Matthew Janak, Davin Hutcheson, Lauren Pelletier, Damon Price, John Roberts, and Tina Berry.

From Feb. 15–18, the Houston Council of Clubs hosted Let Us Entertain You (LUEY) Weekend at various venues. Pictured are members of the Houston Council of Clubs.


Calendar of Events

65th Annual Diana Awards!

Compiled by Marene Gustin

That’s what friends are for.

I 2

Miss Richfield 1981 hosts this year’s Diana Awards celebration.

t’s the LGBT black-tie event of the year and you don’t want to miss it! This year the Diana Awards will be held at the Hilton Post Oak Hotel on the 10th. It all starts with a reception and silent auction followed by the traditional group photo, dinner, awards, and entertainment. This year it will be Bubba McNeely,

Photographic Foundation, Out for Education, University of Houston LGBTQ Resource Center, and University of Houston Libraries. —Marene Gustin

65th Annual Diana Awards • March 10 • Tickets: $250 to $500 •

Radio* Performing ArtsA Art & Photography+ Other ThingsV Save The Date

1 * thru 3 A screening of Oscar-nominated short live-action films.

Oscar at the Museum

2 HSPVA Friends Encore Luncheon

Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India thru August 19

The history of India’s extraordinarily vibrant culture, through some 250 objects.


The 12th annual event honors alumna.

5 A

Tish DeWilliams, Billie Jean, Mary Griffin, and other surprise guests. The fabulous Miss Richfield 1981 hosts the evening, and Harris County district attorney Kim Ogg is the Diana Award honoree. Proceeds benefit Bayou City Performing Arts, The Botts Collection, Dalton Dehart

3 + It’s the inaugural season for this new rugby team. Leap and the Net Will Appear *& 4 A new play by Chana Porter. SaberCats

6 + Golf tournament for diabetes research.

Tee Up to Cure

20 MARCH 2018

7 * thru 23 Solargraphs by Bill Wittliff. Ann * thru April 8 The one-woman play about Texas governor Ann Richards, written by Holland Taylor. Sunrise Sunset


4 + The walk starts downtown, and there’s a free concert afterward.

AIDS Walk Houston

8 Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo * thru 11 Corteo is a joyous procession, a festive parade imagined by a clown. The cast includes 51 acrobats, musicians, singers, and actors from all around the world.

For ongoing events, visit


9 Re:Construction A A new group exhibition.

65th Annual Diana Awards

(See opposite page, top.)


Biorhythm: Music and the Body


by Chinese-born, Houston-based artist Gao Hang.

+ thru 25 Join skaters at this outdoor roller rink in Discovery Green.


14 Treachery of Material: The Surrealist Impulse in Craft thru April 15


Michael Crowder and Julia Maria Künnap, two artists who use surrealist strategies and references in their work.


War Toys: Israel, West Bank & Gaza Strip last day Photographs of


children in war-torn lands.

Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo

last day

thru 24 Music, more.

20 Eye on Houston: High School Documentary Photography thru June


24 Exhibition of student photographs.


22 Conversations at The Center + John Pluecker and Carrie Marie Schneider. Keels & Wheels Uncorked + Fundraiser with wine, food, and classic cars.

+ thru April 1 PGA golf tournament. Houston Open

A thru 25 Outdoor festival in Memorial Park.

Bayou City Art Fest

Sherlock Holmes and the Spinsters of Blackmead and 24 The game is




Food trucks and cocktails at the museum.

Carpocalypse + Free family event to raise funds for Houston Zombie Walk. After Dinner Affair + Fundraiser for the A. D. Players.

27 Dissent and Desire A thru April 29 This exhibition is comprised of a series of 48 photographs and companion first-person texts depicting an unprecedented portrait of LGBTQ+ lives in India today.

31 Save the Date

29 Happy Hour Thursdays at MFAH




25 A

+ Rec Room Arts Residency Festival + What Makes Us Houston Strong?


money for a reforestation program.

thru June 10 Masterworks from the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte, Naples.

+ Fundraiser for the Center.

Bringin’ in the Green

18 +

Michelangelo and the Vatican



The Rob Landes Trio (See page 22.) Tour de Houston Bike ride to raise

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


thru July 31 Make music with your body. Spring Break Crafts + thru 16 Kids of all ages can come for free craftmaking sessions.

Good Times, Bad Times, Give Me last day Exhibition Some of That





A thru April 29 A play about

the most famous TV ad ever made.

April 12

Welcome to the Vortex


Join artists for a contemporary twist on the classic fundraiser to benefit Lawndale’s artist programming. More CALENDAR ➝ |

MARCH 2018

| 21

3/18 Calendar of Events continued from previous page

Sunrise Sunset

March 7–23

Michael Jackson, Jr., Photo by Andrew Eccles


March 16-17, 3 Shows I I 713.227.4772 Society for the Performing Arts Bringing the World’s Best to Houston

Ailey Tour Sponsor


Solargraphs by Bill Wittliff features more than 40 “photos” made from tallboy beer cans or pieces of PVC piping to make pinhole cameras that would capture weeks of exposure. They are amazing The Gulf of Mexico Texas landfrom South Padre Island scapes in the Main Gallery Space at Rice University. Wittliff is also a prolific screenwriter, and Rice will offer a screening of his Black Stallion at 7 p.m. on the 7th. Bringin’ in the Green

March 2/22/2018 3:24:48 PM

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Don’t miss one of LGBTQ Houston’s favorite and longest-running events, Bringin’ in the Green for the Montrose Center. With an open bar, hors d’oeuvres, and silent auction of luxury items, you don’t want to miss this annual St. Patrick’s Day party. Thanks to the generous underwriting of Glenn Dickson and Justin Liendo, ticket sales and sponsorships support Hatch Youth Services’ collaborative to end local LGBTQ youth homelessness through rapid rehousing, case management, drop-in center, and street outreach. The event is business and business-casual attire, preferably green!

Call (832) 639-2900 today. Lea Bogle, Owner

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The 1950s marked the beginning of the age of rock ‘n’ roll—from Elvis to Little Richard to Chuck Berry. At the same time, the 1950s was the era of Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis, and Roger Williams. From “Sha Boom” to “Chances Are,” the Rob Landes Trio will charm you with the memorable music of the Fabulous ’50s! ■

22 | MARCH | 22 MARCH 20182018


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By Susan Bankston

More Republican Memos Revealed These explosive bombshells would rival the Nunes dud.



f you are politically aware these days, you sleep like a baby—you wake up every three hours and cry. In Washington DeeCee, there’s more finger-pointing than a first-grade reading circle. Who paid off the hooker? Who lied about who paid off the hooker? Is the hooker lying? Who colluded with Russia? Raining on His Parade Who lied about the guy The military estimates that Trump’s parade would cost at least $10 million, depending on how many tanks sink through who punched his first two Pennsylvania Avenue because it wasn’t built for tanks. wives? Who told Kellyanne Conway that she looks lovely? Who knows what Robert Mueller is dotell you—that he found what he believes is “seplay golf on it. It had so little proof that Steve ing—and can I help him? cret sperm” on Barack Obama’s forehead in his Bannon wouldn’t even bother to drink it. And to really solve the problems we face in official presidential portrait. I’m not lying. Look The Republican chairman of the House America, President Trump wants to hold a giant it up. Run a Google search on “Hannity and Intelligence Committee, Congressvarmint Devin military parade—because France has one, and secret sperm.” No, no, wait—that’s not a good Nunes (who is so dense that light bends around for some damn reason he wants to keep up with idea. First, no telling what you’d see, and sechim), says he’s got memos on five other subjects. a country that hasn’t won a war since 1830, ond, what if the FBI confiscates your computer Through the miracle of modern documentwhen France clearly did conquer the ever-living tomorrow and sees that search term? They’d leaking technology, I have uncovered advance hell out of Algeria. (France has since given that think you have really bad taste in pornography, copies of those five Republican memos yet to country back, because it’s sweaty-hot in Algeria and you know for a fact that you have perfectly come. So, suddenly a plot twist that was about and their chocolate is so subpar.) good taste in porn, cold-weather footwear, and as cheerful as a coroner’s inquest has become The American military estimates that Trump’s assorted other things the FBI has no business kinda fun. parade will cost between $10 million and $30 HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE knowing about. million, depending on how many tanks sink FIVE NEW REPUBLICAN MEMOS And then there’s the congressional “memo” through Pennsylvania Avenue because it wasn’t 1. Rumors that Betty Jean Frontage in the post sent out by Republicans claiming that Donald built for tanks, and whether Trump wants to office department used a stamp for a personal Trump doesn’t even know a Russian and can’t dress up in George W. Bush’s “Mission Accompiece of mail and left only 40 cents in the stamp spell collude, much less provide a timely plished” flight suit and be the grand marshal. drawer. Stamps have not been 40 cents in a definition. But the haute couture artisan creepiness long time, Betty Jean. Fact: Betty Jean voted Honey, the Republican memo bombed so doesn’t stop with the White House. for Hillary. Thanks, Hillary, for sparking this nabadly that Hawaii sent out an alert. The memo Sean Hannity was outraged—outraged, I tional nightmare. has so many holes that Donald Trump tried to continued on page 60

24 | MARCH 2018 |

In adults with HIV on ART who have diarrhea not caused by an infection

IMPORTANT PATIENT INFORMATION This is only a summary. See complete Prescribing Information at or by calling 1-844-722-8256. This does not take the place of talking with your doctor about your medical condition or treatment.

What Is Mytesi? Mytesi is a prescription medicine used to improve symptoms of noninfectious diarrhea (diarrhea not caused by a bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection) in adults living with HIV/AIDS on ART. Do Not Take Mytesi if you have diarrhea caused by an infection. Before you start Mytesi, your doctor and you should make sure your diarrhea is not caused by an infection (such as bacteria, virus, or parasite).

Possible Side Effects of Mytesi Include:

Tired of planning your life around diarrhea?

Enough is Enough Get relief. Pure and simple. Ask your doctor about Mytesi. Mytesi (crofelemer): • Is the only medicine FDA-approved to relieve diarrhea in people with HIV • Treats diarrhea differently by normalizing the flow of water in the GI tract • Has the same or fewer side effects as placebo in clinical studies • Comes from a tree sustainably harvested in the Amazon Rainforest What is Mytesi? Mytesi is a prescription medicine that helps relieve symptoms of diarrhea not caused by an infection (noninfectious) in adults living with HIV/AIDS on antiretroviral therapy (ART). Important Safety Information Mytesi is not approved to treat infectious diarrhea (diarrhea caused by bacteria, a virus, or a parasite). Before starting you on Mytesi, your healthcare provider will first be sure that you do not have infectious diarrhea. Otherwise, there is a risk you would not receive the right medicine and your infection could get worse. In clinical studies, the most common side effects that occurred more often than with placebo were upper respiratory tract (sinus, nose, and throat) infection (5.7%), bronchitis (3.9%), cough (3.5%), flatulence (3.1%), and increased bilirubin (3.1%). For Copay Savings Card and Patient Assistance, see

Please see complete Prescribing Information at NP-390-10


• Upper respiratory tract infection (sinus, nose, and throat infection) • Bronchitis (swelling in the tubes that carry air to and from your lungs) • Cough • Flatulence (gas) • Increased bilirubin (a waste product when red blood cells break down) For a full list of side effects, please talk to your doctor. Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or does not go away. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Should I Take Mytesi If I Am:

Pregnant or Planning to Become Pregnant? • Studies in animals show that Mytesi could harm an unborn baby or affect the ability to become pregnant • There are no studies in pregnant women taking Mytesi • This drug should only be used during pregnancy if clearly needed A Nursing Mother? • It is not known whether Mytesi is passed through human breast milk • If you are nursing, you should tell your doctor before starting Mytesi • Your doctor will help you to decide whether to stop nursing or to stop taking Mytesi Under 18 or Over 65 Years of Age? • Mytesi has not been studied in children under 18 years of age • Mytesi studies did not include many people over the age of 65. So it is not clear if this age group will respond differently. Talk to your doctor to find out if Mytesi is right for you

What Should I Know About Taking Mytesi With Other Medicines? If you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter medicine, herbal supplements, or vitamins, tell your doctor before starting Mytesi.

What If I Have More Questions About Mytesi? For more information, please see the full Prescribing Information at or speak to your doctor or pharmacist. To report side effects or make a product complaint or for additional information, call 1-844-722-8256.

Rx Only Manufactured by Patheon, Inc. for Napo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. San Francisco, CA 94105 Copyright © Napo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Mytesi comes from the Croton lechleri tree harvested in South America.


By Grace S. Yung, CFP

How Will Tax Changes Affect You? Employees should already see updated figures on their paychecks.


he major tax reforms approved by Congress became law on December 22, so it is important to understand how the new rules will affect you—particularly in terms of income-tax withholding and housing-expense deductions. Over the last few years, married same-sex couples have had some extra “homework” to do in figuring out which tax deductions are available to them. Add to that a plethora of new tax rules, and you can almost feel the headaches coming on. There is some good news, though: the new tax law won’t apply to your 2017 return due next month. The rules will, however, have an impact on what you are responsible for during 2018 in terms of income tax and/or mortgage interest that you may (or may not) be able to deduct on real-estate loans. Overall, the new rules are meant to reduce the amount of income tax that is withheld from employees’ paychecks, after taking into account exemptions you claim on your W-4 form. According to supporters of the tax reforms, the lower tax rates will mean that roughly 90 percent of American workers will see their takehome pay increase. Employers were required to adopt the changes by February 15, so employees should already be seeing the updated figures reflected in their paychecks. However, you may not see an overall reduction in your tax bill until you file your 2018 return next year. In addition, based on updates to some longstanding tax credits, the final impact of the new law remains to be seen. Although some taxpayers can claim new credits, the personal exemption has gone away. In addition,

since the standard deduction has doubled to $24,000 for married couples, it may not make sense for couples to itemize or claim other deductions. For many years, the home-mortgage tax deduction has been a nice benefit to those who own their own piece of the American dream. But the new law means that some homeowners may not fare as well as they have in the past. Between now and 2025, interest payments on mortgages of up to $750,000 can be deducted (versus the previous cap of $1 million). It is also important to keep in mind that under the new legislation, you won’t be allowed to deduct more than $10,000 of property taxes or state and local sales tax. The new tax law could also have an impact on what is or is not deductible in terms of investment expenses and financial-services costs. For example, the bill repeals certain deductions for investment fees and expenses, as well as convenience fees (for using a debit or credit card to pay your taxes) and trustee fees for an IRA, if paid separately. In addition, the new tax law eliminates deductions for alimony payments that are required by post-2018 divorce agreements. For those who take the standard deduction,

26 | MARCH 2018 |

that has been nearly doubled to $12,000 for single tax filers and $24,000 for those who are married and filing jointly. Likewise, this deduction will rise to $18,000 for those who file as head of household. As of right now (early in 2018), individual taxpayers won’t need to make any changes to their W-4s. However, later this year the IRS intends to introduce a new version of the W-4 form that may require employees to make adjustments in order to ensure that all of the proper information is being included in your withholding calculation. Most tax laws are complicated, and these new rules are no exception. With that in mind, it is important that you discuss your situation with someone who is knowledgeable in both tax law and financial planning prior to making any changes to your investments this year. Grace S. Yung, CFP, is a certified financial planner practitioner with experience in helping domestic partners plan their finances since 1994. She is a principal at Midtown Financial LLC in Houston and was recognized as a “FiveStar Wealth Manager” in the 2014 September issue of Texas Monthly. Yung can be reached at


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FOR YOUR CALENDAR Check out these fabulous events co-sponsored by O UT S MART and our marketing partners. March 3: OUTSMART Pride Night at the Houston Sabercats rugby game.

March 23-25: Bayou City Art Festival in Memorial Park, benefitting Houston nonprofits.

March 4: AIDS Walk Houston 2018, benefitting AIDS Foundation Houston as well as other local HIV/AIDS charities.


March 8: Act Out at the Alley presenting Satchmo at the Waldorf. Enjoy complimentary pre-performance reception. March 10: The Diana Foundation presents the 65th Annual Diana Awards, benefitting local charities. March 10: The Houston Pride Band presents “Sail the Seven Seas” concert. March 16: Bringin’ In the Green presented by the Montrose Center, benefitting the Center.

April 1: Bunnies on the Bayou 39 benefitting several local LGBT charities. (new location for this year only) April 7: Human Rights Campaign presents the 21st HRC Houston Gala. April 21: Bering United Methodist Church, “Oodles of Noodles” All You Can Eat Pasta” Benefitting the Bering Support Network. April 26: The Council on Recovery 35th Annual Luncheon featuring Kristen Johnston, benefitting the council.

Be social! Connect with us!

28 | MARCH 2018 |



TimeOut in France


Gary Gano and his husband Gilbert Vargas took OUTSMART to the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Show Us Your OutSmart

GOING OUT OF TOWN? Take OUTSMART along. Snap a high-res pic of yourself with the magazine and send it to us. Send to: Letters@OUTSMARTM AGAZINE.COM.





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Advertising and event sponsorship opportunities available for our special April issue. Contact your sales rep: 713.520.7237 or Deadline is March 23.

Taste the Rainbow YouTube star takes apart Trump, one show tune at a time. By Kim Hogstrom


uring the 2016 presidential campaign, a strange new face popped into our Facebook feeds. There was a 30-something man with crystal-blue eyes, a golden voice, and a flowered bonnet singing some new lyrics he had written to the “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” tune from the film Mary Poppins. This rendition about Donald Trump described the unlikely (and unlikable) candidate as “super-callous, fragile ego, extra-braggadocious” in an impeccable imitation of Julie Andrews’ beloved Disney character. Many viewers became instant fans, and the four-minute viral video received 28 million views in the two days after it was posted. Since then, 36-year-old Randy Rainbow (yes, that’s his real name) has become an online star, creating approximately one new video every two weeks with Donald Trump and his cast of clowns as the subject matter. To express their gratitude to the artist for helping them laugh through the tears and fears of the Trump presidency, Rainbow’s fans launched a line of T-shirts featuring an image of him in a nun’s habit. The tagline says, “Thank you Randy Rainbow for saving me!” Rainbow’s work has also been touted in the New York Times, the Huffington Post, Mother Jones, the Miami Herald, and Vanity Fair. The cast of Will and Grace even asked him to write a special number for a charitable event that the four stars hosted, and Rainbow was offered a major role in a musical commercial produced by Will and Grace costar Sean Hayes. But who is the New York City man behind those pink cat-eye reading glasses?

Rainbow lives in Queens in a one-bedroom apartment with his cat, Moshi. Remarkably, he writes, shoots, edits, and scores the videos himself—often during one of his all-night marathons. Thanks to the magic of a green screen, we see him interviewing “Sarah Huckabee Sandbag” (his name for Trump’s press secretary) in the White House Press Room, or Trump himself in the Oval Office. Somehow, Rainbow is able to churn out his beautiful, funny commentaries on American politics in a matter of hours, alone, with only Moshi to assist. He always creates them as quickly as possible after a memorable White House pronouncement, such as when Kellyanne “Con-artist” (his name for Trump’s longtime adviser) said our microwave ovens may be watching us, or whenever Trump taunts North Korea with a tweet. “The videos have to be timely, so I have to move fast,” Rainbow explains. Rainbow’s takeoff on “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?” from The Sound of Music, sung while wearing a nun’s habit, is titled “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Korea?” and was posted the day after Trump coined his “Little Rocket Man” nickname for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Following a week of particularly scathing presidential tweets, Rainbow took Carrie Underwood’s hit song “Before He Cheats” and turned it into “(Maybe He’ll Think) Before He Tweets.” The 2017 Country Music Awards did the same thing—after Rainbow. An original from every angle, this multitalented performer grew up in South Florida

30 | MARCH 2018 |

as an only child of “very funny” Jewish parents, he says. “I have been in musical theater my entire life. I was in the theater throughout high school, and just went on from there. Fortunately, I had a supportive family who encouraged me every step of the way.” As an out gay man, he is grateful to his parents in that arena, too. “When I told them I was gay, it was no big deal. I think they knew. After all, I started in ballet at the age of six. After I saw Dirty Dancing as a kid, I announced that I wanted to be Jennifer Grey so I could dance with Patrick Swayze. I asked my dad to help me practice ‘the lift’ in our living room. I think that was also the full extent of my participation in sports as a child.” In fact, Rainbow’s first musical parody was created years ago. Called “Born This Gay,” it is still available on iTunes. How does he come up with his material? “There is plenty of it out there,” he says. “I am most comfortable when my subjects are older, misogynistic, homophobic, racist white men. They are my specialty, and they are abundant these days. “In this administration, it’s sort of an embarrassment of riches,” he adds. With the presidential election now in the rear-view mirror, how does he reflect on the outcome? After all, that, coupled with his enormous talent, launched him into cyberstardom. “That night, the night Trump won, I felt nauseous. I got drunk, and I’ve been nauseous and drunk ever since,” he says flatly, with only a hint of humor. ➝



MARCH 2018



TASTE THE RAINBOW continued from previous page


here is an element of innocence in Rainbow’s videos that warrants mention. The brilliant, funny, and often caustic jabs at the Trump administration are somehow lacking a mean spirit. It’s an intriguing combination. “That’s how I’ve always been,” Rainbow explains. “It is a coping mechanism. I deliver a shovel of truth with a spoonful of sugar at the same time. It’s that ‘catch more flies with honey’ thing. The best part is that there are people who do not think like I do about politics—and many other things, too—but they still enjoy the videos. I hear from them all the time. That part is very rewarding for me.” In response to his adoring fans, Rainbow is taking his show on the road. On March 23, he will appear at Houston’s House of Blues. Lucky attendees will see him perform all of their favorite numbers, accompanied by a live band. At the end, he will take questions and answers from the audience. The tour also includes a show in Dallas the following night. “I’ve never been to Texas before. Do I need to be frightened?” he asks. Sadly, he is only half joking. (Thanks a pants-load for that, Dan Patrick.) OUTSMART tried to answer his concerns by touting Houston’s great food, multiracial makeup, and true-blue politics. However, it was our mention of Houston’s Neon Boots— the largest gay country-western dance hall in the world— that caught his attention. You see, this handsome, funny, talented man is single, but would very much like to change that last part. What if he comes to Houston and falls in love? “It’s certainly possible,” he says. “That’s why I signed on for this tour. I’m really just shopping the country for a boyfriend, and I have always been partial to men in Levis.” What does the future hold for Randy Rainbow? There is a TV show in embryonic development that will draw heavily on his various talents. In the meantime, you can “Like” Randy Rainbow on Facebook—and thank us later. What: Randy Rainbow When: March 23 Where: House of Blues Houston, 1204 Caroline Street Tickets: Kim Hogstrom is a regular contributor to OUTSMART magazine. 32 | MARCH 2018 |


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In addition to being candidates for public office, Michael and Steven ByrumBratsen both serve in the volunteer fire department in Iowa Colony. 34 | MARCH 2018 |


Municipal Marriage






Michael and Steven Byrum-Bratsen would be Texas’ first elected same-sex couple. By Brandon Wolf Editor’s Note: This article is part of “Out for Change in 2018,” a monthly series on LGBTQ candidates in Texas, who were the subject of our January issue. For more, visit


f they both win their municipal races in May, Michael and Steven Byrum-Bratsen will become the first married same-sex couple in Texas in which both spouses hold elected office. But making LGBTQ history is not what motivates the Brazoria County residents. Their main focus is improving the quality of life in the area where they are getting ready to raise a family. “Municipal elections affect our daily lives,” Michael Byrum-Bratsen says. “Local officials authorize fire and police funding. They decide the inspection levels that must be passed to obtain various permits. They adopt ordinances that control behavior within a community, from public smoking to speed limits.” Michael Byrum-Bratsen, 31, is already the first openly LGBTQ elected official in the history of Brazoria County. He was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Iowa Colony City Council in 2015, before being elected to a full two-year term in 2016. Steven Byrum-Bratsen, 36, is running for a seat on the Brazoria County Drainage District Board. They will both be on the ballot in the nonpartisan May 5 municipal elections. Together, they are among 49 openly LGBTQ candidates in Texas in 2018—a record number by far. Steven Byrum-Bratsen is a former

president of the Houston PFLAG chapter. His parents, Michael and Linda Bratsen, who were “ally” grand marshals of the 2009 Houston Pride parade, have been involved with PFLAG for nearly two decades. The Byrum-Bratsens were married in March 2013 in Washington DC, just two weeks before the oral arguments for Windsor v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court case that later struck down the antigay Defense of Marriage Act. In addition to being candidates for public office, the Byrum-Bratsens both serve on the volunteer fire department in Iowa Colony, a fast-growing community southwest of Pearland. During Tropical Storm Harvey they handled some of the most difficult rescues, including people who were bedridden and relied on electrically powered medical equipment to survive. In fact, it was the Harvey crisis that inspired Steven Byrum-Bratsen to run for the Drainage Board. He felt the incumbent had done little to prepare for such a storm. “There are trees growing in the drainage ditches,” he says. “Things loosened by the flood floated down the ditches and snagged in the trees, seriously blocking the flow. [But board members] continue to maintain the status quo.” If elected, Steven Byrum-Bratsen says he

will push to spend $1 million to update drainage plans in the district, which has not been done for 28 years. Michael Byrum-Bratsen, meanwhile, is working to bring essential retail stores and restaurants to the area. Currently, the nearest grocery store is 13 miles away, which makes Iowa Colony a “food desert.” He is also guiding traffic-management plans in the five local subdivisions to handle an expected population growth from 5,000 to 150,000. The couple has lived in Iowa Colony since 2011. Steven Byrum-Bratsen grew up in nearby Santa Fe, Texas. Michael ByrumBratsen was raised in Atlanta, where the couple met after Steven transferred there for work in 2010. When Steven Byrum-Bratsen was laid off a year later, the couple headed to Southeast Texas to buy a four-acre plot and build a threebedroom house. “At first, we wondered about our safety, living in a traditionally conservative area, and thought about buying a gun,” Steven says. But their neighbors have been friendly, even after it became obvious the two men aren’t brothers. Before joining the volunteer fire department, it is customary for new recruits to meet with current squad members, who then hold a private meeting. After their applications were approved, the Byrum-Bratsens learned that ➝


MARCH 2018



MUNICIPAL MARRIAGE continued from previous page

their sexual orientation had come up during the meeting, with some questioning how two openly gay members would affect the department. After the fire chief reportedly responded to those concerns by saying that the ByrumBratsens just wanted to help protect Iowa Colony, they were welcomed into the department. Michael Byrum-Bratsen works as the director of purchasing for a local firm, while Steven sells irrigation pumps. In preparation for adopting two sibling children, they moved to Iowa Colony’s Meridiana subdivision two weeks before Tropical Storm Harvey. After the Pulse nightclub massacre in 2016, Michael Byrum-Bratsen introduced a nondiscrimination ordinance for Iowa Colony—before he learned that Texas law prohibits jurisdictions with populations of less than 5,000 from enacting such measures. As they reflect on the political climate nationally and in Texas, the couple admits that this is a time of major social setbacks. But still, they have hope. “Progress never advances in a straight line,” they say. Brandon Wolf is a regular contributor to OUTSMART magazine.

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Schooling His Critics HISD superintendent Richard Carranza talks bathrooms, queer-inclusive curriculum, and more. By John Wright


t was August 22, 2016, and Richard Carranza was touring campuses during his first day as superintendent of the Houston Independent School District. One day before, a federal judge in Texas had issued an injunction barring the Obama administration from implementing guidance saying public schools should allow transgender students to use restrooms based on their gender identity. As Carranza walked the hallways, a reporter representing approached him and asked about the injunction. Carranza says his response was unrehearsed and came from the heart. “I think kids are human beings, and I think a human being should be treated like a human being, so I have to look at what they said in particular about the transgender bathroom law,” Carranza said, in a video that went viral on social media. “I can tell you in my former experience— I spent seven years, almost eight years, in San Francisco—we had transgender bathrooms the entire time I was there, [and we] never had one issue,” he added. “[There were] zero reported issues with a transgender restroom, so I think we need to kind of peel the onion. Is it really about the restroom, or is it about something else?” Not surprisingly, Carranza’s comments did not go over well with anti-LGBTQ groups, including the Houston Area Pastor Council. But the new leader of the state’s largest school district was unfazed by any backlash. In fact, months later, Carranza doubled down on his vocal and unprecedented support for equality when he publicly suggested that LGBTQ studies be added to the district’s U.S. history curriculum. Midway through his second year in the job, Carranza sat down with OUTSMART to discuss these and other issues.

‹ Weathering the Storm HISD superintendent Richard Carranza, shown hugging board president Wanda Adams as they survey damage to a school caused by Tropical Storm Harvey, says he is unfazed by attacks from anti-LGBTQ groups.

John Wright: After all your time in San Francisco, how difficult was the transition to Texas? Richard Carranza: A lot of the issues are kind of the same, as it pertains to education. You just change the faces, change the neighborhoods, and change the names. I think the difference here is obviously the politics in Texas are a little different from California, and the politics in Houston are a little different from San Francisco. But I’ve been really impressed with how liberal some of the social thought is here in Houston, and I’ve found that we have a lot of allies who are like-minded. People think San Francisco is this far-left liberal bastion. It’s not. So even in San Francisco, when we were working for LGBTQ student rights and we were talking about bathrooms there, there were people who just didn’t agree with it. I haven’t done the per-capita analysis, but I would assume there are probably more people in Texas who are contrary to that point of view. But everywhere I’ve been, when we have talked about the rights of students, especially as it pertains to LGBTQ, there are people who speak up. So I’m not bothered by the fact

that people have a different point of view. Again, my eye is always toward making sure that our students are being served. And obviously, the values of the community are important, but I also think LGBTQ students and their families are part of the community, so their voices need to be heard as well. After you suggested adding LGBTQ studies to the history curriculum, the Houston Area Pastor Council said you needed to understand that you are in Texas now, not California. What is your response to that? Well, I absolutely recognize I’m in America, and in America we have civil rights. We have the right to not only know our history, but to study our history, and I think that the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights apply to everybody, regardless of religion, creed, sexual orientation. So, last time I checked, Houston is in America, and Texas is in America, and I’m in America. I’m proud of the fact that we have all those protections. At the time, you said discussions about adding LGBTQ studies to the curriculum ➝


MARCH 2018



SCHOOLING HIS CRITICS continued from previous page

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were “just beginning.” What did you mean by that? I think it’s pretty clear that if you look at what is taught in the schools, it should be reflective of who the community is. When you think about American history, there are a lot of components. There’s a definite history of the African-American experience in America. That should be part of what we study in schools. For the Hispanics and Latinos, there’s a whole history—in Texas especially. And likewise, there are many across the country who would say the LGBTQ civil-rights movement is part of the civil-rights movement, in terms of making sure that all segments of society are covered by the Bill of Rights. So, as we are looking at what is being taught in our schools, we’re starting to engage our teachers and our community members around what those other topics should look like. And that’s all that I was referring to when I made that comment. We’re not going to say, “That’s taboo and we can’t talk about that.” Actually, you’re probably sitting in class with four, five, or six students who are in the very struggle of that civil-rights movement. So, we’re not going to shy away from identifying what should be part of our collective history. That’s all I was saying. It’s not like we’re going to replace American history tomorrow and have an LGBTQ class, or have a pure Mexican history class. Could that eventually develop? We’ll see, but we’re not going to stifle that. But wouldn’t such a class run afoul of the state’s “no homo promo” law, which prohibits teachers from discussing LGBTQ issues in a positive light? Well, I think we should have a conversation. And that’s what’s so ironic and actually funny about the people who got very unglued about the comment. It’s not like there’s a brand-new class that we’re rolling out tomorrow. This is the start of a conversation, and we’re not going to shy away from topics. There’s a whole lot of bureaucracy that has to happen to make it happen. The only voices that are heard out there can’t be the voices that say you can’t do this. And it’s really not just me as a superintendent—there are LGBTQ youth and families in our community, living and breathing in our community, who have been here for years. My being able to burst that little bubble is just an indication to folks that we’re going to have conversations about that, and there’s nothing wrong with having conversations, and being thoughtful, and being deliberate, and making sure that we’re not letting that conversation get framed as, “There’s an LGBTQ takeover of the curriculum.” With regard to trans restroom access, you said we need to “peel the onion.” What

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do you think is underneath? Look, students have rights in schools, and why are we so concerned about where a student goes to urinate? If a student’s gotta go, they’ve gotta go. I’ve walked through a lot of airports, and every airport I’ve walked through, there’s always a multi-use bathroom. So why is it a big deal in school but it’s not a big deal in public? It’s not really about where kids are going to the restrooms. Let’s peel back the onion. By that I mean it’s really about this issue of conservatism, social conservatism, and another political agenda—not serving kids. I’m not interested in being part of a conversation that’s just solely a political agenda for anything, except making sure that our students are being served, that we have environments created that are safe for students. [And] when you look at what group of students has the highest propensity for suicide [and] one of the highest rates of dropout, it’s LGBTQ students. So why are we going to perpetuate that kind of an environment in schools, when that’s not good for students?


As a second-generation Mexican-American, how difficult has it been for you to watch recent anti-immigrant attacks at the state and federal level, including President Trump’s repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy? It’s profoundly troubling. And I would be profoundly troubled if [Trump] was talking about banning Chinese students. Again, you have to know your history. There has to be this recognition that a good swath of the Southwestern United States at one time was part of Mexico. There are rich cultural histories and traditions that go back thousands of years. So there has to be this recognition that while we are a sovereign nation—and that’s fine and good—when you start demonizing groups of people, and then you start acting upon that and memorializing that in law, then you have to ask yourself the question: is that the kind of democracy we are? I would say it’s not. What can the LGBTQ community do to support you and HISD? Obviously, the first thing would be getting involved at the school-site level. That’s always really important, and we can always use that kind of support. But I also think it’s important that all constituents are politically savvy, and that you don’t take any elections for granted. It’s also really important that when there is a conversation (whether it’s in the op-ed pages or on Twitter) where people take offense at the stance that the district is taking in support of our LGBTQ students and families, there should be an equal response from those who are actually being talked about. I think that many times we don’t have time for that, but I think we have to make time for that. John Wright is the editor of OUTSMART magazine.

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Laramie’s Lessons Out director stages play about Matthew Shepard’s murder in conservative Lake Jackson. By Don Maines


ay Adcock doesn’t have to look far to find inspiration for the production of The Laramie Project he is directing at Brazosport College in Lake Jackson next month. Last fall, in nearby Clute, school officials looked the other way when Joel Mireles, the gay homecoming king at Brazoswood High School, was taunted on social media with the hashtag #NotMyKing. Mireles responded with a royal raspberry by wearing a #NotMyKing T-shirt to school—along with his crown. “The kid is my hero,” Adcock says. “I do worry about bullying in the school system. That is why I think The Laramie Project is so important.” In The Laramie Project, eight actors portray more than 60 characters, including out playwright Moisés Kaufman and fellow members of the Tectonic Theater Project. They traveled three times from New York to Wyoming to interview people about the savage 1998 hate-crime murder of Matthew Shepard. A newsperson they interviewed told them, “People would like to think that what happened to Matthew was an exception to the rule, but it was an extreme version of what happens in our schools on a daily basis.” Adcock, who is 47, lives openly but carefully as a gay man in Brazoria County. While just 50 miles south of Houston, it’s an area that Adcock describes as less than welcoming to people in the LGBTQ community. In other words, it’s a place whose residents need to see The Laramie Project and take it to heart. Adcock grew up in Brazoria County, graduating in 1988 from a private Christian school in Pearland. “It took me a long time to just figure out who I am. I had gone to counseling to try to ‘fix it.’ I tried ‘praying it away.’ It just didn’t work. Once I came out, it’s been

unbelievable. It’s been like an explosion.” However, Adcock admits that “it’s not easy to live truthfully here. I have some friends who are gay, but I have to go to Houston for a social life. I go to the ‘gayborhood’ on weekends and my days off. JR’s is the place I frequent—also The Eagle and Ripcord.” The murder of Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student, at the hands of two heterosexual strangers he met at a bar, is the extreme worst-case scenario for a gay man living in a small town, says Adcock. “But LGBTQ people live with this every day. We have to be aware of our surroundings. People will yell slurs at you.” In Brazoria County, he says, “If I see someone I would like to talk to, if I’m not careful I could get myself killed.” The play, which premiered in February 2000 at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, was adapted as an HBO movie that aired in March 2002. The film was named Outstanding Television Movie at the 2003 GLAAD Media Awards. “I already knew about Matthew Shepard and I saw the movie, which is very good, but there is nothing like a live theater experience,” says Adcock. “The emotion and energy are something to experience. When it came my time to direct at Brazosport College, I thought, ‘This is the time to do it.’” Adcock has found his place in the local theater scene—which in Brazoria County means acting at the Brazosport Center Stages in Clute and at Brazosport College in Lake Jackson. His proudest moment was portraying Uncle Charley in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, while his most taxing role, “both emotionally and physically,” was the Earl of Gloucester in William Shakespeare’s King Lear. Adcock’s theatrical

‹ Unfriendly Territory Director Jay Adcock (above) says there are similarities between Brazoria County and Laramie, Wyoming. He points to the case of Joel Mireles (below), the homecoming king at Brazoswood High School who was bullied for being gay.

bio also boasts the role of Sir Bedevere in the musical Monty Python’s Spamalot, which Adcock says, “had some LGBT content in it.” Likewise, a Brazoria County production of John Cariano’s “very heartwarming” collection of nine short plays, Almost, Maine, included the story of two “country boys” who discover they love each other—although Adcock played the roles of two straight men in that show. In Adcock’s three years out of the closet, he’s had one romantic fling with a fellow thespian in town. “We were quite interested in each other, and luckily we were both theater ➝


MARCH 2018



LARAMIE’S LESSONS continued from previous page

people, so we had that in common. Our personalities didn’t exactly click,” he says, “but we are still friends to this day.” Meanwhile, Adcock has been busy promoting his upcoming production of The Laramie Project, including working with an LGBTQ group on the campus of Brazosport College and recruiting art students to create props for the show. “It is all I talk about,” he says. “I run around telling everybody about it. It’s really timely, and I think it will teach and touch and move people. That is what I really want to happen. It is such an important show, and after each Friday performance we will host a question-and-answer program where we can tell people what it was like for Matthew Shepard.”



What: The Laramie Project When: April 19–28. Showtimes at 8 p.m., Thursday–Saturday. Where: Seidule Drama Theatre (G-116), Brazosport College, 500 College Drive, Lake Jackson Tickets: $5. Call 979.230.3271 for reservations.

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Queer Quandary Couple debates whether to abort gay fetus in Theatre Suburbia show.

‹ Giving Birth to Controversy Twilight of the Golds, which comes to Houston in April, was the subject of a 1997 Showtime movie starring Jennifer Beals (l). The local production is being directed by Amanda Garcia Faul (below), who believes it will be the Houston premiere.

By Don Maines


couple debates whether to abort their son after a prenatal test concludes he will likely be gay, in Jonathan Tolins’ The Twilight of the Golds. The controversial 1993 dramedy comes to Theatre Suburbia in northwest Houston April 13–May 12, for what director Amanda Garcia Faul believes to be its local premiere. In the play, David Gold is the pink sheep of an upper-middle-class New York family that confronts the question, “If your parents knew everything about you before you were born, would you be here?” Faul explains. Naturally, David is appalled that his sister, Suzanne Gold-Stein, would entertain the notion of aborting the fetus because the baby might grow up to be “like him.” “It’s a blatant Nazi philosophy,” David tells his brother-in-law, Rob Stein, who is a Jewish doctor and genetic researcher. Also thrown into the debate are David and Suzanne’s helicopter parents, Walter and Phyllis Gold. “You can’t fart without telling your parents,” Rob tells Suzanne. “If only the fetus were deformed, it wouldn’t be so complicated,” she says. “This is so complicated.” Opera buffs may recognize the play’s title as a takeoff on Richard Wagner’s opera Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods). And Faul says Theatre Suburbia’s production will include opera scenes that humorously underscore the Wagner reference. “I definitely have a plan for those opera scenes,” Faul says. “They are so integral to the show and to David’s telling of The Ring Cycle as it relates to the Gold family. So I had to come up with a way to get the same grandness of Broadway theater lighting, but on a much smaller scale. “Theatre Suburbia is a more intimate set-

ting, so I don’t want to bombard audiences with sound and light that could distract from the story, and I didn’t want to just flood the whole stage in colorful light that has no purpose,” she adds. “I don’t want to give away too much, but I have designed the set in such a way that the lighting and sound will be contained but will still be dramatic, purposeful, and impactful.” The Twilight of the Golds premiered at the famed Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, California, on January 17, 1993, at the height of the AIDS crisis. The play included references to David attending a friend’s funeral and his mother, Phyllis, worrying that he’d lost weight. Phyllis even warned Suzanne not to eat anything that David might have touched. Twilight of the Golds opened on Broadway in October 1993, with Jennifer Grey (Dirty Dancing) and the late David Groh (Rhoda) among its cast. That production survived only 29 performances. In 1997, Showtime gave the story “a decidedly more optimistic spin” in a TV movie that earned kudos for star Brendan Fraser as David, cameo players Rosie O’Donnell and Jack Klugman, and Faye Dunaway as Phyllis. It was nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries at the 1998 Screen Actors Guild Awards. The 32-year-old Faul, who is married but hasn’t started a family yet, discovered The

Twilight of the Golds while “reading a bunch of scripts” as she prepared to direct her first play at Theatre Suburbia (billed as “North-west Houston’s longest-running all-volunteer playhouse” and currently celebrating its 57th season. Faul, who grew up in Katy, graduated in 2009 from the University of Houston-Down-town with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. She minored in theater, studying under professor Tom Lyttle. At UH-D, Faul appeared in 10 shows, including Macbeth, and she caught “the directing bug” when she got to helm a one-act play, Nicky Silver’s Raised in Captivity, about a bulimic woman and her depressed twin brother, who is gay. Faul notes that she is “100 percent pro,” and an unborn child’s sexual orientation “wouldn’t be a reason for me” to abort him. “I hope the play has a really big impact on people who see it,” she says. “I go to a show like this because I want to be engaged. It gives you something to think about it; it moves you. It might not be sunshine and rainbows, but you will leave feeling something.” What: Twilight of the Golds When: April 13–May 12 Where: Theatre Suburbia, 4106 Way Out West Drive Tickets and more information: 713.682.3525 or visit Don Maines is regular contributor to OUTSMART magazine.


MARCH 2018



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Bunnies Hop Thirty-ninth annual Easter extravaganza moves up the bayou. By Marene Gustin Photo by Dalton DeHart


unnies on the Bayou (BOTB) has a long and storied history, but sadly, there’s no one left who attended the group’s first party in 1979. The last living attendee was Bill Bridges Jr., a community activist and early member of the Diana Foundation who died in January. But BOTB’s history lives on. This year’s 39th annual event, set for April 1, will be party time as usual—with a few changes. “Everything was still covered in dirt and debris after [Tropical Storm] Harvey,” BOTB treasurer Josh Beasley says of Fish Plaza, where the Easter Sunday bash has been held for the last quarter-century. “Plus, the City was going to be using it as a staging center for equipment in the continuing cleanup downtown. There was no way we could use that outdoor space.” After a frantic search, BOTB’s board of directors opted to hop a short distance up the bayou to The Water Works at Buffalo Bayou Park. But it won’t be an easy task to move an event that draws 3,000 revelers, complete with sound systems, food and drink stations, and more. Last year, BOTB raised $156,500 for local LGBTQ nonprofits. Bunnies hosts several events throughout the year, but their Easter extravaganza is the largest. And it all started with a small backyard gathering in 1979. “It became an annual blowout, and as more people wanted to come, it was moved to the pool at an apartment complex at Polk and Stanford,” says former BOTB president Jim Taylor. “It was still invitation-only, and as the AIDS crisis arose, they started asking everyone to bring a canned good to donate.” Back then, Taylor was working for an oil and gas company based in Denver. During one of his frequent trips to Houston, he met Rick

‹ New Nest Bunnies on the Bayou, held at Fish Plaza from 1991 until last year, will move to The Water Works at Buffalo Bayou Park in 2018. Former Bunnies president Jim Taylor, below, has not missed an event since 1987.

Galenec, also an attendee at the first Bunnies, who invited him to come back for the 1987 party, then known as BFP. Taylor hasn’t missed one since. “But how many cans of corn and green beans did the community need?” Taylor says. “That’s when we decided to ask for cash donations we could donate to AIDS nonprofits.” Despite the noble cause, BOTB has always been a wild event. Taylor recalls the pool party being so crowded that people would fall into the pool. “And once there was even a bitch fight where someone got thrown into the pool,” he recalls with a laugh. By 1991, Bunnies had grown so popular that organizers moved it downtown to the Wortham Center’s Fish Plaza, where it would remain until this year. That is also when it was renamed Bunnies on the Bayou. And despite the high-profile public space, the party has not gotten much tamer. “Every year, we did big banners and hung them from

the bridge, and we had a camper parked onsite called ‘The Bunny Hole’ where the hosts could take a break—but the toilet often overflowed,” Taylor says. “And for many years, we had an Easter bonnet contest. One year, a man had this elaborate bonnet surrounded with chicken wire and live baby chicks inside.” On the following Monday mornings, the organizers would meet at the bank and count the money they had raised, often in soggy dollar bills. Taylor recalls that one year they netted $30,000 for HIV/AIDS groups, which he thought was a lot at the time. In 1991, Taylor was laid off from his energy job and spent time caring for his friend Galenec, who was terminally ill. By 1993, Taylor found a new career with the American Red Cross, which then had an HIV section that he ran. In 1995, Bunnies incorporated as a nonprofit, and Taylor became the first president of the board, a seat he held for two years. He spent many more years as a BOTB director before stepping down to leave it to the next generation. “The younger ones have more energy than I do, and they know all the hot DJs today,” he ➝


MARCH 2018




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says. “Plus, they get corporate sponsorships. I remember in the early days, the hosts paid for everything so all the money raised went to AIDS charities.” Taylor retired in 2014 and now lives with his brother in Meyerland. He loves to read and travel, and he likes a good martini, too. One of his favorite quotes is from Dorothy Parker: “I like a good martini, two at the most. After three I’m under the table, after four I’m under my host.” Taylor stays active in the community by volunteering at the Montrose Center and the Houston GLBT Political Caucus. And of course he still volunteers with BOTB and looks forward to the annual Easter blowout every year. “It’s just such a fun event,” he says. “But it’s also important to remember all those we lost to HIV/AIDS. It’s a time to celebrate, and a time to toast those who are no longer with us.” What: Bunnies on the Bayou 39 When: April 1 Where: The Water Works at Buffalo Bayou Park, 105 Sabine St. More info: Marene Gustin is a regular contributor to OUTSMART magazine.

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his month, step back in time (and into spring) via a visit to the ninth annual Sherwood Forest Faire, situated roughly two hours from Houston on the outskirts of McDade, Texas. (Journey time by horse not available.) The Faire is designed to make you forget you’re in modern-day America as you stroll through a medieval village with more than 100 different shopping, food, and entertainment venues. Actors in costume, some representing important historical figures, wander the grounds interacting with visitors, who are encouraged to dress up in order to embrace the “time travel” ambience. But don’t call this a Renaissance fair; Sherwood Forest is set in the twelfth century, and its backdrop is a real forest with Robin Hood serving as organizer of the merriment. Co-founded by Eric Todd and George Appling, the fair fulfills Appling’s lifelong goal of marrying his business skills with his personal passion for historical fairs. Appling explains that the first step to realizing his dream took place years ago: “When I was 35, I wrote STOP! far ahead in my calendar on the day I would turn 40,” he says. “The notation was to remind me to finally stop working for other people and do something that I love.” Appling made good on this promise to himself by launching the Sherwood Forest Faire, which continues to expand and thrive. Today, fair operations are a family affair, with Appling’s husband of more than 20 years working full-time and their three children greatly enjoying the perks of their parents’ business. Arrive early in the day to allow ample time to peruse the many shops and craft demonstrations. Medieval accoutrements such as cloaks, weapons, apothecary supplies, flower garlands, and wands are available, in addition to more mainstream items such as perfume,

decorative pieces, serving ware, beauty products, and even pet toys. And while the holidays are months away, the fair’s unique selection of goods makes it a terrific place to buy presents for friends and family. Once you’ve had your fill of shopping, take a seat and watch one of the many musical acts (Celtic minstrels are a highlight) as well as sword-fighting, comedy, and stunt performances. To entertain your little ones (who should avoid the violent full-contact jousting and ribald humor), visit the “Once Upon a Time” area, a two-acre section of Sherwood Forest with puppet shows, sing-a-longs, buskers, jugglers, and woodland creatures frolicing around the play castle. Food stations sell both kid-friendly grub and adult beverages. Gargantuan, juicy turkey legs are also on offer, but do split one with a friend (or three) in order to save room for the selection of internationallyinspired dishes such as Scotch eggs, gyros, stuffed grape leaves, bratwurst, shepherd’s pie, funnel cakes, crepes, and jambalaya. And those seeking to eat their way into a fried-food coma can look forward to battered mushrooms, artichokes, onions, eggplant, squid, mozzarella, cookies, and pickles. Hard and soft libations range from the pedestrian (tea, soda, milkshakes) to the more distinctive (Turkish coffee, craft beers, and “Thorin’s Viking Mead”). Those seeking stimulation beyond shopping, eating, and watching the various shows should definitely sign up for the “Forest Quest,” a multi-chapter game (eight in total, one for each week of the fair’s operation) in which players solve puzzles and riddles to ad-

vance to the final installment. Those intrepid players who complete all eight puzzles will be entered to win a 45-minute “Rapture Experience,” a family-friendly opportunity to handle a selection of birds from the falconer’s collection. Youth, adults, and (for the first time this year) families can also register for an opportunity to learn common medieval trade skills such as blacksmithing, leatherworking, herbalism, and courtly dance. And while campers can pitch their own tents on site, I suggest keeping in the spirit of things by taking advantage of the air-conditioned accommodations in the castle. Tickets for Sherwood Faire can be purchased online; look for special “buy one, get one” offers, as well as discounts for military veterans. For Houston visitors not keen on trekking there and back in a single day, there are a handful of modest hotels nearby, as well as ample space in the adjoining campgrounds that provide a particularly festive environment to party long after the fairgrounds close. Finally, if you find yourself particularly smitten with Sherwood Forest’s whimsical environment, the grounds and some buildings can be rented for weddings and other special life celebrations. What: Sherwood Forest Faire When: Weekends, March 3—April 22, 10 a.m. to dusk Where: 1883 Old Hwy. 20, McDade TX Info: Joanna O’Leary is a regular contributor to OUTSMART magazine. |

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eads, flowers, and joy make the actors’ clothes fall off in Hair, the “American tribal love-rock musical” that comes to the Island Etc. theater in Galveston March 9–April 7. “I absolutely love this musical,” says director Kim Mytelka, who is staging the show for the third time in the 15 seasons of Island Etc., also known as the East End Theatre Company. “It is a very historical play, set in 1968 during the Vietnam War and the civil-rights movement,” she explains. “We hadn’t even dealt with gay rights; we didn’t even have women’s lib. The birth-control pill had just been introduced, along with free love. The universal theme was accepting one another and loving one another.” The naked hippies of Hair first scandalized Broadway audiences in April 1968. “The original did the nude scene at the end of Act One, supposedly celebrating the body and freedom,” Mytelka says. “There was a big parachute-like piece of fabric with holes in it that the cast disrobed under, then stood up fullfrontal. It became more of a financial sell and fairly exploitive. I want the scene to flow more naturally, as people ‘couple up’ at that point. No one has to remove clothing, but those who are comfortable will. However, our stage is really close to the audience, so I don’t encourage full-frontal.” Among those still debating last month about whether to “take it all off” was Justin Gonzalez, an openly gay actor who plays Woof and leads the “tribe” in performing the song “Sodomy.” “I am not opposed to getting naked onstage; I am very open to it, but not just for the sake of being naked,” Gonzalez explains. “The way we’ve approached it in rehearsal is very organic, so when we

‹ Letting Their ‘Hair’ Down First performed on Broadway in 1968, Hair comes to Galveston’s Island Etc. theater for the third time in 15 seasons this month. Shown below are (l–r) director Kim Mytelka, actor Justin Gonzalez, and stage manager Cameron Dunbar.

get to that part, it should be very fluid.” Whatever Gonzalez decides, his fiancé, Cameron Dunbar, will be watching from just a few feet away, as the production’s stage manager. “Cameron is a brilliant actor and director as well,” Mytelka says. The couple met in 2014 when Dunbar played Brad in The Rocky Horror Show at Etc. “I was just a phantom,” says Gonzalez, who next played Jesus in Godspell, with Dunbar portraying the character who sings “We Be-

seech Thee.” Gonzalez, who will turn 27 during the run of Hair, is a Galveston native who graduated from Ball High School in 2009. “I was definitely an actor all four years,” he says. “My junior year, I was Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. My senior year, I was voted ‘Hollywood-bound.’ Hollywood isn’t necessarily my idea of becoming an actor, but everyone thought of me as ‘that guy.’” Mytelka, now 60, also graduated from Ball High. “If you’re my age, you know the music from Hair,” she says. “Several numbers became very popular radio songs: ‘Hair,’ ‘Good Morning Starshine,’ ‘Aquarius,’ and ‘Let the Sunshine In.’” A favorite ballad from the show is “Easy to Be Hard.” The original Broadway production of Hair, with book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado, and music by Galt MacDermot, was nominated for two Tony Awards (Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical), and its best-selling album won the 1969 Grammy Award for Best Score from an Original Cast Show Album. A 2009 Broadway revival was nominated for eight Tonys, including Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for openly gay Gavin Creel as the tragic, conflicted Claude, who is drafted to serve in the Vietnam War. (The show’s militant black tribe member, ➝


MARCH 2018



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Hud, calls the conscription “white people sending black people to make war on the yellow people to defend that land they stole from the red people.”) The production won the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical. Creel returned to last year’s Tonys, winning Best Featured Actor in a Musical as Cornelius Hackl opposite Bette Midler in the still-running revival of Hello, Dolly! (a much more conventional Broadway musical comedy from the ’60s). Gonzalez, who was featured in a number of productions at Southwestern University in Georgetown, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in musical theater, says his favorite thing about Hair is performing in a true ensemble show. “It is exhilarating to create this family of people who fight for the right to be who they are,” he says. “Sometimes, it feels like we are fighting for the same rights today because the social climate of the ’60s is so relatable again. These are people who say, ‘We are not going to be silenced by the government.’” For ticket information, call 409.762.3556 or visit Don Maines is a regular contributor to OUTSMART magazine.

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Cirque Swings In Out publicist Maxwell Batista helps bring ‘Corteo’ to Houston. By Don Maines Photo by Lucas Saporiti


ach time Maxwell Batista runs off to join the circus, he gets to take his husband with him. Batista is the openly gay Cirque du Soleil publicist who will sweep into town March 8–11 for six performances of Corteo at the Toyota Center. The spectacle is about a clown who watches his own funeral unfold in a carnival-like atmosphere with 50 acrobats, singers, musicians, and actors. About 50 support staff also travel with the show, which will kick off its national tour early this month in New Orleans before thrilling Houston audiences. “We become a family, somehow,” says Batista. “Cirque de Soleil doesn’t care if you are LGBT or if you have tattoos or what language you speak or what country you come from. They are super-respectful. What they care about is the soul you have and your talent. We are like a small planet, with 20 different nationalities. We embrace each other, and the company embraces us.” Batista, who is 27, grew up in Brasília, the capital of Brazil, and speaks Portuguese, Spanish, English, and some French. “I am from a simple family in a city that is very conservative, so being gay was not an easy topic to be talking about, for me,” he says. “Then, one summer, I was an exchange student in the United States, where I worked at Disney World in Florida. At the park, I was a greeter. I would

‹ Life Under the Big Top Cirque de Soleil publicist Maxwell Batista (below right), travels with his husband, graphic artist Martin Tomatis. They will be in Houston March 8–11 for Corteo (above) at the Toyota Center.

say, ‘Welcome to the Magical Kingdom. Have a magical day.’ I saw guys holding hands, and I got shocked at first, but it gave me more confidence. No one really cared that I was gay; it was not a secret. So when I came back to Brazil, I decided that it should not be a secret there, either.” Batista says he came out “to the world” at age 20, then to his mother at age 24. “It was New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro, and we were on the beach before the fireworks started,” he says. “I told my mother I had something to say to her. She listened, and while I won’t say she was happy about it,

she said it didn’t change anything.” Three-and-a-half years ago, about the same time that Batista began working for Cirque de Soleil, he married a graphic artist in Buenos Aires. “He travels with me,” says Batista. “Because he can do his work online, from anywhere in the world, sometimes he is working more than me. He works at the hotel, or he takes his computer to the arena, and when I get time off for two weeks, we often travel together in the area.” Batista sent ahead for a list of landmarks and popular places to visit in Houston, but admits that their Bayou City tour stop will allow the company to “relax” after opening the show in New Orleans. “We will be able to breathe,” he says, following February’s intensive rehearsal period in Québec City, Canada. Corteo has enchanted more than eight million fans worldwide since the Daniele Finzi Pasca production premiered in Montreal in March 2004, before touring 64 cities (including Houston) in 19 countries on five continents. continued on page 60


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2. Vague references that Jimmy Don Farquart of Pasadena, Texas, knows a guy, who knows a guy, who knows that guy’s second cousin who read on Facebook that the FBI’s “secret society” proves everything is a Masonic conspiracy designed to take over the country. Either that, or it was the Elks. He wasn’t sure. 3. A printed copy of that Facebook post appeared on your timeline, right before you hit “Unfriend” because the above-mentioned Jimmy Don Farquart made you so mad that you could jumpstart your car without cables. 4. Edwin Wilvin Elberger, who works in the agriculture department, ate an entire apple instead of taking the expected one bite while taste-testing an experimental new apple crop. This violates at least two customs. Elberger’s excuse that the apple was “really, really tasty” brings little comfort to the American people. 5. Benghazi! Because why the hell not? It’s March. You know where to buy a kite, a bottle of wine, and a hunk of cheese. All is right with the world.

Susan Bankston lives in Richmond, Texas, where she writes about her hairdresser at The World’s Most Dangerous Beauty Salon, Inc., at

CIRQUE SWINGS IN continued from page 57

However, the show’s original intimate setting was expanded for arena audiences on the new national tour. “It is a very familyfriendly show, and what I think sets it apart from many Cirque de Soleil shows is that it isn’t about magical and imaginary creatures, but human beings,” Batista says. “It is about a clown whose friends come from all over the world to celebrate his life, and the greatest and most playful moments of his journey. “It has one of the biggest sets in Cirque de Soleil history,” he adds. “It has a huge stage that is split in half, which makes it funny because you see things from the point of view of the artist, and the reactions of the audience across the way. The costumes are amazing, inspired by fashions from the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. It is romantic and theatrical and poetic, and very touching as it celebrates the happiness and nostalgia of life.” What: Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo When: March 8–11 Where: Toyota Center, 1510 Polk Street More info and tickets: HoustonToyota Don Maines is a regular contributor to OUTSMART magazine.


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Side Out Houston’s only LGBTQ volleyball league serves up its 30th season. By Ryan M. Leach Photo by Dalton DeHart


wenty-four years ago, Gary Grier joined the Lone Star Volleyball Association (LSVA) to connect with the community and become more comfortable with his sexual orientation. “I have never missed a single season,” says Grier, a team captain and former regional director of the North American Gay Volleyball Association. “I wanted to develop positive relationships and confidence [while playing] a sport I love.” As Houston’s only LGBTQ volleyball league enters its 30th season, Grier is as involved as ever. In 2017, he received LSVA’s Casey Richardson Service Award, and he is already registered to participate in the 2018 Gay Games in Paris. “Fortunately for me, I have played on some wonderful teams that had success on the court,” says the 53-year-old Grier. “My goal is to hang on until 2020 and attempt to win a medal in four consecutive decades.” On February 25, more than 150 athletes descended on The Zone sportsplex to kick off LSVA’s pearl-anniversary campaign. Open play continues at 6 p.m. each Sunday, and people of all experience levels are encouraged to join. “You don’t have to be an expert to play,” says 30-year-old Shawn Kuehn, LSVA president. “All you need is a desire to experience sportsmanship and camaraderie in a safe space for the LGBTQ community and allies.” The season culminates during Easter weekend with the Lone Star Volleyball Classic Tournament, which brings in over 500 athletes from across North America. “Within the volleyball community, Houston is certainly on the gay volleyball map, despite not having men’s

‹ Lone Star Legend Gary Grier (below) has been a member of the Lone Star Volleyball Association for 24 of the league’s 30 years. LSVA’s 30th-anniversary season culminates with the Lone Star Volleyball Classic Tournament on Easter weekend.

volleyball in our school systems,” Kuehn says. “Obviously, there are some havens in New York, the Midwest, or California that produce some great players, but we fare pretty well.” LSVA was founded in 1988 and participated in its first national tournament in 1989. In addition to providing a safe place for the LGBTQ community to gather and socialize outside of bars, the organization is well-known for its philanthropic efforts, including the annual Miss LSVA Pageant. “In the early ’90s, [LSVA’s awards-banquet theme was] ‘The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,’ and we’d dress up as ‘whores’ to raise money to donate to charity,” Kuehn says. “In 2002, [the league] officially created Miss LSVA, a charity drag fundraiser extravaganza. They’ve since crowned 15 queens and helped the organization raise approximately $150,000 to donate to the community.” LSVA places a strong emphasis on being open to everyone, regardless of age, race, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. Grier recalls the story of a young player coming to the league several years ago. “A couple brought their teenage son,” Grier says. “He was not quite 18, so we asked the parents to come each week as chaperones. They said he had come out to them and wanted to have an uplifting experience and to meet and make gay friendships. He played that season and really loved it.

Later, he won a scholarship from the Montrose Center’s HATCH Youth program and noted that the LSVA experience helped shape his identity and created positive self-esteem.” Thain Allen, 38, has played with LSVA for seven years. “Both watching and playing sports has been a big part of my life since I was a kid, but they aren’t big for most of my close friends,” Allen says. “It’s been great to find an inclusive place to play sports. While it’s mostly gay, all players are welcome—I’ve also met and become close friends with several straight players through LSVA.” Tongue-in-cheek team names are another important component of any LGBTQ sports league, and the LSVA is no exception. “My team name is Gay for Play because our original team had a couple of straight players,” Allen says. “We formed the team name well before the RuPaul show, so I’m pretty proud of that.” Kuehn says LGBTQ sports leagues are essential to a healthy community. “They provide a safe space for all people to be social and active outside of the bar scene,” he says. “It also brings together different sects of the LGBTQ community, as well as allies, to work together in a fun, healthy way. “I’ve made many friends from all walks of life that I would have never met if it were not for volleyball,” he adds. “Once you’re on the court, gender, sexuality, and political views are irrelevant. All that matters is how you play, and that you enjoy it.” For more info, visit Ryan Leach is a regular contributor to OUTSMART magazine. || MARCH MARCH 2018 2018 || 87 61

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TOP R E A LT O R S It has been an interesting year for real estate in Houston and Galveston. We asked some of our top agents to talk about the impact of Tropical Storm Harvey, as well as the city’s best LGBTQ-friendly neighborhoods, and some that are up-and-coming. By Marene Gustin Continued on page 67 |

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H OUSTON’S TOP REALTORS H ’SS TTOP REALTORS HOUSTON OUSTON OP continued from ’page 63 REALTORS continued from page 63 continued from page 63

JOEY GARZA JOEY JOEY GARZA GARZA “I would say it’s “I say “I would would say it’s it’shalfbeen half-good, been half-good, halfbeen half-good, halfbad,” says Joey Garbad,” says Joey Garbad,” says Joey Garza of Front Street za za of of Front Front Street Street Properties. “The Properties. “The Properties. “The immediate impact immediate impact immediate impact of Harvey was the of was of Harvey Harvey was the the huge onslaught of huge onslaught of huge onslaught of flooded residents flooded residents flooded residents who needed rental who rental who needed needed properties. As many homeowners haverental decidproperties. As many homeowners have decidproperties. As many homeowners have decided not to repair or rebuild, there has been an ed not to repair or rebuild, there has been an ed not to repair or rebuild, therewhich has been increase of unexpected buyers, hasan kept increase of unexpected buyers, which has kept increase of unexpected buyers, which has kept our inventory low. Many local and out-of-state our inventory low. Many local and out-of-state our inventory low. Many local and out-of-state investors have bought and are continuing to investors have and continuing to investors have bought bought and are are continuing to buy storm-damaged homes. Despite the tragic buy storm-damaged homes. Despite the tragic buy storm-damaged Despite the tragic circumstances for sohomes. many, the Houston marcircumstances for so circumstances foryear.” so many, many, the the Houston Houston marmarket increased last ket increased last year.” ket increased last year.” Garza has lived in the Houston Heights since Garza has lived in the Houston Heights since Garza“It has thefavorite Houston Heights since 1997. is lived by farinmy area for LGBTQ 1997. “It is by far my favorite area for LGBTQ 1997. “It is bybecause far my favorite area for LGBTQ inclusivness of its walkability, art, inclusivness because of art, inclusivness of its its walkability, walkability, diversity, andbecause local events,” Garza says. art, “Other diversity, and local events,” Garza says. diversity, and local events,”are Garza says. “Other “Other great inner-loop locations Timbergrove great inner-loop locations are Timbergrove greatOak inner-loop locations aremid-century Timbergrove and Forest, [which have] and Forest, [which have] and Oak Oak Forest, [which have] mid-century mid-century homes and popular restaurant destinations. homes and popular restaurant destinations. homes and popular restaurant destinations. For people seeking to invest in up-and-coming For people seeking to invest in up-and-coming For people seeking to invest in up-and-coming areas, EaDo and the Near Northside are great. areas, and the Northside are great. areas, EaDo EaDo the Near Neararound Northside great. These areas and are turning withare rebuilds, These areas are turning around with rebuilds, These areas are turning around with rebuilds, remodels, and new custom homes. The proxremodels, and homes. The remodels, and new new custom custom homes.make The proxproximity to downtown and Midtown these imity to downtown and Midtown make these imity to downtown and Midtown make areas perfect for those wanting to get inthese on the areas perfect for those wanting to get in areas perfect for those wanting to get in on on the the real-estate market.” real-estate market.” real-estate market.” DANIEL HERRINGTON DANIEL HERRINGTON DANIEL HERRINGTON Daniel Herrington Daniel Herrington Daniel Herrington is retired from Haris retired from Haris retired ris Countyfrom and Haronly ris County and only ris County only became an and agent became an agent became last agent last July. last July.didn’t have “I really “I really didn’t have “I really didn’t have that many listings,” that many listings,” that many listings,” Herrington says. Herrington says. Herrington says. “So when Harvey “So when Harvey “So when Harvey came along, it didn’t came along, it didn’t along, didn’t really affect me that much.came We still haditpeople really affect me that much. We still had people really affect me that much. We still had people buying and selling, so it wasn’t too bad.” Herbuying selling, so it wasn’t too Herbuying and and selling, wasn’t too bad.” bad.” rington used to liveso in it the Galleria area, Herand rington used to live in the Galleria area, and rington used toin live in the Galleria area, and he now resides Channelview. “It’s for family he now resides in Channelview. “It’s for family he now resides in Channelview. “It’s for family reasons,” he says. “I grew up here, and I didn’t reasons,” he “I grew here, and I didn’t reasons,” he says. says. “IThere’s grew up upnot here, and didn’t want to come back. a lot of Igay want to come back. There’s not a lot of want to come lot of gay gay culture, and I back. reallyThere’s miss mynot gaya neighborculture, and I really neighborculture,As and really miss miss my my gay gay neighborhood.” forI up-and-coming LGBTQ-friendly hood.” As for up-and-coming LGBTQ-friendly hood.” As for up-and-coming LGBTQ-friendly enclaves, he sees more people heading to the enclaves, he sees more people heading to enclaves, he part sees due more to the the suburbs—in topeople rising heading prices, and in suburbs—in part due to rising prices, and in suburbs—in due rising prices, andand in part becausepart more of to them have children part because more of them have children and partlooking because more of them have children and are for quality schools. are are looking looking for for quality quality schools. schools.

BROOKS BALLARD BROOKS BROOKS BALLARD BALLARD Brooks Ballard, Brooks Brooks Ballard, Ballard, president of Brooks president of president of Brooks Brooks Ballard Fine Homes Ballard Fine Homes Ballard Finein Homes and Estates and Estates in and EstatesHouston, in downtown downtown Houston, downtown Houston, and now a licensed and now aa licensed and now licensed partner with Engel partner with Engel partner with Engel & Völkers Houston, & Völkers Houston, & Völkers has almostHouston, three dehas three has almost almost three dedecades of experience. cades of experience. cades of experience. “The market slowed down, the value dropped “The market slowed value dropped “The market slowed down, down, the the 18 percent effectively—more invalue somedropped areas 18 percent effectively—more in some 18 percent effectively—more some areas areas than in others,” Ballard says, in referring to the than others,” Ballard says, to the than in in of others,” Ballard says, referring referring toin the impact Harvey. “The value will return impact of Harvey. “The value will return in impact of Harvey. “The value will return in most areas. This is a buyer’s market.” Some of most This aa buyer’s Some of most areas. areas. This is isneighborhoods buyer’s market.” market.” Some Ballard’s favorite include theof Ballard’s favorite neighborhoods include the Ballard’sRiver favorite neighborhoods includeand the Heights, Oaks, Midtown, Galleria, Heights, Heights, River River Oaks, Oaks, Midtown, Midtown, Galleria, Galleria, and and downtown. downtown. downtown. JEREMY FAIN JEREMY FAIN FAIN JEREMY “The hurricane has “The has “The hurricane hurricane has certainly increased certainly increased certainly increased awareness in buyers,” awareness in buyers,” awareness buyers,” says JeremyinFain. says Jeremy says Jeremy Fain. Fain. “Automatically, the “Automatically, the “Automatically, theask first question they first question they first question they ask ask is, ‘Did the property is, ‘Did the property property flood? If not, how close is, did‘Did the the water come to flood? If close the come to flood? If not, not,Ithow how close did did the water water the house?’ certainly affected areascome suchto the house?’ It certainly affected areas such the house?’ It certainly affected areas such as Meyerland and Bellaire, as well as masteras Meyerland and Bellaire, as well as masteras Meyerland and Bellaire, well as masterplanned communities in theassuburbs. Builders planned communities in Builders planned communities in the the suburbs. suburbs. Builders and investors are buying lots, tearing the and investors are buying the lots, tearing the and investors are buying the lots, tearing the houses down, and rebuilding at higher elevahouses down, and rebuilding at higher elevahouses down, and rebuilding at higher elevations to avoid flooding in the future. About tions avoid in the About tions to to avoid flooding flooding the future. future. seven percent of homesin were flooded,About and a seven percent of homes were flooded, and sevenamount percentwere of homes were flooded, and aa large flooded from the reservoir large amount were flooded from the reservoir large amount were from theitself. reservoir releases rather thanflooded the hurricane It releases rather than the hurricane itself. It releases than It has beenrather amazing to the me hurricane to see how itself. the comhas amazing to to see how the has been beencame amazing to me me seeeach how other the comcommunity together toto help out, munity came together help each out, munity together to to help each other other withoutcame even knowing one another.” Fainout, without even knowing one another.” Fain without oneinanother.” Fain loves theeven Oaksknowing of Inwood northwest Housloves the Oaks of in Housloves thearea Oakswas of Inwood Inwood in northwest northwest Houston. The developed in the 1980s, and ton. The area was developed in the 1980s, ton. The area was developed the$350,000. 1980s, and and homes sell between $275,000inand homes sell $275,000 $350,000. homes sell between between $275,000 and and $350,000. The houses are all single-family with 2,500 The houses are single-family with The houses are all all withof2,500 2,500 to 3,500 square feetsingle-family of space, on lots around to 3,500 square feet of space, on lots of around to 3,500 square feet of space, on lots 7,000 square feet. “It’s a real treat to of getaround in the 7,000 “It’s aa real treat get 7,000 square square feet. feet. “It’sthe real treat to to get in in the the neighborhood around holidays because neighborhood around the holidays because neighborhood around the holidays because the everyone just hops back and forth between everyone just hops back and forth the everyone hops andparties,” forth between between the houses forjust all of theback holiday he says. houses houses for for all all of of the the holiday holiday parties,” parties,” he he says. says. CHRISTOPHER WILLIAMS CHRISTOPHER WILLIAMS WILLIAMS CHRISTOPHER A Realtor associate A Realtor A Heritage Realtor associate associate at Texas at Heritage at Heritage Texas Texas Properties, ChrisProperties, ChrisProperties, Christopher Williams topher Williams topher Houston, Williams knows knows Houston, knows and he Houston, knows value. and he knows and he knows value. value. “The short-term “The short-term “The short-term rental market has rental market has rentalquite market has been strong been quite on page 70 beencontinued quite strong strong

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continued on page 70 | MARCH 2018 | 67 continued on page 70 | MARCH 2018 | 67 | | MARCH MARCH2018 2018 | | 67 13


This Martini Really Sells It


shton Martini is a broker associate with Martha Turner Sotherby’s International Realty, with more than 17 years of Houston experience. He was born in Galveston, where his mother is in real estate. “Because of her, I grew up loving the business,” he says. His family also had a hospitality business where he worked, before being employed by a large retail organization. Martini says both jobs taught him customer service, accountability, and how to think outside of the box—skills he uses today in real estate buying and selling. “Negotiating, communicating, and marketing are my most important job skills,” Martini explains. “And the best lesson I’ve learned is to be proactive.” He picked up his first clients 17 years ago while holding an open

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house, and hasn’t looked back since. He’s won the Houston Business Journal top 25 agents in Luxury in 2016 and 2017, Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty 2017 top-ten agents, and Real Estate Trends top 250 agents in Texas. His honors at Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty include Top Ten Producing Agent, Most Listings, and Most Seller Transactions. He is a member of the Martha Turner Circle of Excellence. Martini is an Accredited “NEGOTIATING, COMMUNICATING Luxury Home Specialist and AND MARKETING ARE MY MOST works in the Heights, MonIMPORTANT JOB SKILLS,” MARTINI trose, Memorial Park, and EXPLAINS. “AND THE BEST LESSON Upper Kirby. He is a member I’VE LEARNED IS TO BE PROACTIVE.” of the NextGen Realtor Group Advisory Board and the Italian Cultural and Community Center. In his spare time he enjoys running, spinning, and marathons. In fact, he founded the Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty MS150 team to raise funds needed to help find a cure for multiple sclerosis. He and his team raised more than $100,000 over two years. In 2015, he ran his first marathon, the Chevron Houston Marathon Run For a Reason, while raising money for the Alzheimer’s Association. Martini is also devoted to Friends for Life, a no-kill animal adoption and rescue organization. He donates a portion of each commission to charity, and also supports Toys for Tots, the Houston Food Bank, Interfaith Ministries, and many more. — Marene Gustin Ashton Martini at Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty



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continued from page 67

post-Harvey,” he says. “Overall, I think we are months out before we really see the true market impact.” So besides Montrose, what is his favorite LGBTQ-friendly neighborhood? “Midtown, and I could see EaDo (east of downtown) being an up-and-coming enclave for the community,” Williams says. DAVID BOWERS David Bowers is an attorney and a Realtor with The House Company in Galveston. He rode out Hurricane Ike in his 1899 Victorian home, so he knows all about big storms. Harvey was a lot more forgiving to the island. “There was really no impact, except to highlight the different ways condo associations that sustained flooding and wind damage are prepared, as far as having good insurance, [reasonable deductibles, and adequate] reserves,” he says. “It was very interesting.” Bowers loves island life, and says his favorite LGBTQ-friendly neighborhood is east of 25th Street. But you can also find him just a tad west of 25th at Robert’s Lafitte, the oldest LGBTQ bar in Texas. “They added a new bar in back by the pool,” he says, “and it is great.”

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V. J. Tramonte is a longtime broker/owner at the family-run Tramonte Realty in Galveston. “Harvey came in late August, when we normally have a slow period with parents getting kids back to school, etc.,” Tramonte says. “It usually picks up in midSeptember. Our rental agents did help out many people from the Dickinson and League City area with temporary rentals in Galveston. So many of the American National Insurance, Galveston County, and University of Texas Medical Branch employees work in Galveston but live on the mainland. We have a few still living in Galveston while their homes get rebuilt.” Tramonte says all of Galveston is LGBTQ-friendly. “From the east end to the west end, the LGBTQ community is welcomed because they are always taking care of their properties and are usually an inspiration to their neighbors,” he says. “If I had to choose an area on the island, I would pick the areas from Broadway to the seawall, and from 10th Street up to 45th Street.”



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“The Houston market is huge, and to apply generalizations about the whole to specific neighborhoods can be misleading,” Karen Derr says. “The 2017 market overall was strong, but flooding neighborhoods were hit hard. It’s important to remember, Harvey is still not over for many families. The question I get most is, will homes that didn’t flood see a jump in value? Just like the recovery, market adjustments are happening gradually. I don’t see a spike in pricing on the horizon just because of Harvey.” As for LGBTQ-friendly neighborhoods, she’s big on the Heights. “If you’ve become priced out of Montrose, don’t despair,” she says. “The Heights has great choices at prices that really do lag a little behind Montrose, and the Heights dining scene is now the talk of the town. If you thought Montrose was the only neighborhood with good walkability, look again at the Heights. Heightsites have worked hard over the past decade to get trails and support new businesses, and it’s really paid off. “I think the news is that the LGBTQ community will no longer be contained or segregated. I see so many people moving to the suburbs. More LGBTQ couples have kids too, so being near centers of entertainment and nightlife is not as important to them. Communities are connecting online rather than at the local watering hole.”

JARED ANTHONY Jared Anthony is a Realtor with Next Home Realty Center and host of Real Estate U on KPRC 950 AM and the iHeartRadio Network. He found it challenging trying to find affordable rentals for those whose homes flooded during Harvey. “There was just such a high demand then,” he says. “Now we’re seeing people looking for homes to buy, and they are paying greater attention to flood zones and where homes are located. As a Realtor here in Houston, I always recommend flood insurance, no matter if your home is in a flood zone or not.” Anthony says a lot of his LGBTQ clients are moving outside the loop—particularly those with families. “I’ve fallen in love with the Cypress area and the people up here,” he says. “For those with children, the schools are excellent. It’s not only family-friendly, continued on page 74

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All the Right Moves


hether buying or selling your home, besides a Realtor you’re going to need a moving company, and All My Sons Moving & Storage of Houston has been helping folks move for four generations now. The family-owned and operated business started when the founder’s grandfather used his ice cream truck to help some neighbors move. Local operations manager Baxter Wingfield says the company still maintains its family values. “Even with continued growth we have kept those values to make sure that all of our customers are taken care of and treated like a member of the family,” Wingfield notes. He says they do both commercial and residential moves around Houston and out of state. The company is the official mover for both Rice University Athletics and the University of Houston. And, as with most everything else, the business has changed since Hurricane Harvey.

“It was definitely a life-altering event for a lot of people, and unfortunately caused some people to have to move when they weren’t planning it,” Wingfield says. “We have done a lot more storage since the storm, and tried to help in as many ways as possible to help people get their lives back. Right after Harvey we did a lot of relocations that helped people salvage whatever they could. Recently we have been helping many families get back into their homes after repairs have been completed, and it seems the industry is starting to go back to normal.” But with the completion of the Grand Parkway, Wing“I THINK IN THE FUTURE WE ARE field says business will exGOING TO BE DOING A LOT MORE pand even more. “I think in MOVES IN AREAS THAT USED TO BE MORE RURAL AND LESS POPULATED.” the future we are going to be doing a lot more moves in areas that used to be more rural and less populated,” he explains. “Those areas are definitely growing at a rapid pace. Inside the loop is growing too, and I think in the next five years it will be even more populated than it is now with all the townhouses and apartment buildings that are coming up on every corner. With that said, in 2014 we expanded from our Houston office and opened an office in The Woodlands area. In March of 2018 we will expand again into the League City area.” And here’s a tip for Realtors: Wingfield says that by keeping an eye on the moving business, you can identify up-and-coming neighborhoods. — Marene Gustin All My Sons -


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HOUSTON’S TOP REALTORS continued from page 71

but also LGBTQ-friendly. The Towne Lake area is probably my favorite neighborhood. It’s beautiful. Home values are steady, there are beautiful trails around various reservoirs, activity centers for gatherings, and quite frankly, the people are so friendly. My partner was born and raised in Cypress, and I’m from a small military town in Oklahoma. It feels like home. Cypress really does offer it all.” TOM SCHWENK Tom Schwenk is a top Galveston Realtor who saw little damage on the island from Harvey. “Thankfully, Galveston Island’s residential neighborhoods were spared completely,” he says. “Downtown, there was some flooding—particularly on The Strand and Postoffice Street. However, most were up and running again in a day or two. “To put it in perspective, my office on The Strand sustained about four inches of water in Harvey, while in Ike it had about 12 feet of water.” He says the vast majority of Galveston Island is LGBTQ-friendly, and is a very tolerant place. “We live throughout the island, and every neighborhood has LGBTQ residents—admittedly, more on the East End,” he says. TIM SURRATT

For Tim Surratt, of Greenwood King Properties, it begins with a passion for the work involved and a deep respect for his customers and clients. “It was quite a year with Harvey,” Surratt says. “Over 200,000 Houston families were affected by the historic flooding. Our hearts broke for our fellow Houstonians, but we quickly noticed how our city pulls together in time of need. It is indeed what makes Houston great. The rental market went from 80 percent occupancy in some areas to 97 percent as excess apartments were absorbed—as well as homes that did not flood flying off the market. Billions of construction dollars poured into the city to help rebuild, which helped lift Houston’s economy. To top it off, the Astros won the World Series! Let’s hope for a calmer 2018.” 74 | MARCH 2018 |


Debbie Levine is also a top producer with Greenwood King Properties. “The market has remained relatively unchanged since Harvey, at least in the more established neighborhoods,” she says. “The low inventory in the close-in areas is one of the main contributing factors to the strong real-estate market in Houston.” Levine is a big fan of the Heights. “I love the eclectic feel of the Heights, and I have found that much of the LGBTQ community feels very at home in this diverse and charming community.” ANDY WEBER

Andy Weber, a sales associate at John Daugherty Realtors, is a longtime resident of the Museum District/Montrose area, and specializes in inner-loop sales. “I have not felt a big impact in the areas I work in,” he says, referring to Harvey. “People are definitely aware of areas that are at a higher risk for flooding.” Despite living in Montrose, he says that the Heights has really blossomed nicely as a welcoming neighborhood for the community. CANDACE DOLAN Candace Dolan has a lot of talents: she’s an insurance agent and financial advisor with her own company, and does a little real estate on the side. One thing that she’s noticed post-Harvey is that a lot of flooded properties are on the market. “And they are at record-low prices,” she says. So, what’s a good neighborhood for the LGBTQ community? She likes the East Downtown area. “I live, work, and play in EaDo,” Dolan says. “My partner and I are very welcomed in our neighborhood, anywhere we go. We chose EaDo because it is rapidly developing and embraces art and independent thinkers.” Marene Gustin is a regular contributor to OUTSMART magazine.


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resident and licensed partner Brooks Ballard, of Engel & Völkers Houston, is an innovator and top-producing real-estate leader in the Houston market with more than 28 years of experience in the real-estate industry. As Europe’s most prestigious global real-estate company, Engel & Völkers launched in the Houston market in 2015. The global company specializes in luxury residential properties, commercial real estate, and even yachts and airplanes. For Ballard, success comes from leadership, communication, and results. “The best lesson I’ve learned is to be flexible and open to change,” he says, “open to new ways to accomplish your goals.” This native Houstonian, of German heritage, got his first client at the age of 19 as a newly licensed professional. “A mentor introduced me to real estate while I was still in high school,” Ballard recalls. “And I really enjoyed the challenges and rewards the real-estate business had to offer as a career.” His focus is commercial real“I REALLY ENJOYED estate and luxury real-estate, THE CHALLENGES including aviation and yacht AND REWARDS THE REALpurchases. He can also help with ESTATE BUSINESS HAD international real-estate needs. TO OFFER AS A CAREER.” And he’ll do pretty much whatever he needs to do to close the deal and make his clients happy. Including, he jokes, dancing naked in the rain. This power broker’s honors include the Houston Business Journal Award, the 2006 National Real Estate Award, the Local Spirit Award for Special Olympics Texas, the Role Model 2016 and 2017 Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce award, and the 2017 Gayest and Greatest Award from OUTSMART magazine. That’s a pretty impressive resume for someone his age. — Marene Gustin Engel & Völkers • Houston

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MONTROSE Montrose Boulevard | $110s 1/1 - ±630 sf great unit with west views Wade Knight | 713.582.0264 | 713.520.1981 Sotheby’s International Realty and the Sotheby’s International Realty logo are registered (or unregistered) service marks used with permission. Operated by Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. Real estate agents affiliated with Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. are independent contractor sales associates and are not employees of Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. Equal Housing Opportunity.

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from left Debbie Montoya, Barbara Larrow, Marc Archuleta, Jamie Dominguez, Chris Cazares, Noel Phillips, Kelly Ivy & Melissa Hull

80 | MARCH 2018 |

from left Terry Pasternak, Erin Parker & Lynn Stryker-Bronikowski

Island Treasure Galveston Realtor Tom Schwenk launches his own company— so he can give back more. By Marene Gustin


nyone who is lucky enough to live by the sea . . .is lucky enough.” That’s Tom Schwenk’s motto, and he lives by it. In addition to being one of Galveston’s top Realtors, Schwenk is a one-man advertising campaign for the island. “It’s just a really cool little city,” he says. “There’s so much to do, such a diverse population, and so much history.” Retired from the corporate world, Schwenk obtained his real-estate license in 2003 and his broker’s license in 2013. He worked for his friend VJ Tramonte as an agent before joining The House Company. In January, Schwenk hung out his own shingle at Tom’s Galveston Real Estate. “I never really thought that, at 61, I would open my own company, but here I am,” Schwenk laughs. “I’ve got an office on The Strand in the historic district, and four employees.” He specializes in buying and selling houses and leasing residential and commercial properties. A New Jersey native, Schwenk moved to Houston in 1984. Although he enjoyed his time in Space City, it was Galveston that he loved. “I had friends who had a home here, and they invited me down one weekend,” Schwenk says, adding that he bought his own island home in 1987. In 2001, Schwenk and his husband, Jack Bell, moved to Galveston permanently and officially became IBCs, or “Islanders By Choice.” “The day we moved was 9/11, so I definitely remember it,” he says. Schwenk and Bell married on their 30th anniversary, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell marriage-equality decision. They live in an 1882 Victorian in the San Jacinto area bounded by Broadway, Seawall Blvd., and 23rd Street. It’s one of the oldest neighborhoods on the island, and one of the hardest-hit by the Great Storm of 1900. “Our house actually burned down, but was rebuilt with the exact same plans in 1903,”

‹ Beachfront Brokerage Tom Schwenk, who previously worked for VJ Tramonte and The House Company, opened Tom’s Galveston Real Estate in January.

Schwenk says. “We renovated it when we bought it 34 years ago.” The couple lives there with a four-pound poodle that they named Spike (because, as Schwenk says, little dogs need a tough name). Besides all of their community work, they enjoy the island’s burgeoning restaurant scene that features everything from longtime momand-pop eateries to elegant Tilman Fertitta restaurants. “One of our favorites is Rudy & Paco on Postoffice Street,” he says. “And Miller’s Landing, and so many more. Plus, you can always get fresh fish at Katy’s Seafood Market and cook at home.” Schwenk regales buyers with all that the island has to offer in terms of housing options. There are historic Victorians, quaint beach bungalows, and high-rise condos with stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico. As for activities, Schwenk claims there’s no better place than the island for bird watching, water sports, fishing, historical tours, and art walks. And of course there are the annual events like Dickens on the Strand and Mardi Gras that entertain locals and draw scores of mainlanders. But simply walking along the seawall is his personal favorite. “I start each day with a walk by the water,”

Schwenk says. “Then, it’s really just work and hanging out in our neighborhood. It is a very diverse neighborhood, and someone is always throwing a porch party. And then Jack and I usually have a community event to go to every night.” A member of the Houston Association of Realtors and the Galveston Association of Realtors , Schwenk serves as the Texas Association of Realtors’ Political Interest Committee representative for Region 13. He is a past president of both the Galveston Association of Realtors and the Galveston Historical Foundation, and currently chairs the Landmarks Commission. He also serves on the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Board, the Galveston Sustainable Communities Alliance, and as finance director for his neighborhood association. “I love Galveston,” he says. “It’s just a great island, and it’s so easy to get involved in the community here. I also donate to a lot of charities—mostly quality-of-life issues, but also the arts and children’s causes. I pretty much give money to anyone who asks. That’s really why I started my own company at my age, so I have more money to give back to the community.” Marene Gustin is a regular contributor to OUTSMART magazine. |

MARCH 2018





1 . L I N C O L N N AV I G AT O R


2 . AU D I RS5

What Drives You

3 . LEXUS LC500





By James Hurst

he automobile industry is continuing its march toward highly sophisticated technology in modern-day cars and trucks. And that new technology is developing at lightning speed, making possible (or at least promising) everything you didn’t know you 82 | MARCH 2018 |

wanted to do while driving. Driverless cars and trucks are on the horizon, along with automation that will allow vehicles to communicate with one another. True automation will improve public safety, both in and out of these vehicles. Below are a few new models that OUTSMART felt driven to share with our readers. ➝






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WHAT DRIVES YOU continued from previous page

turbo V6 packing 510 pound-feet of torque. It is mated to a 10-speed transmission, offering an estimated 16 miles per gallon city and 23 miles per gallon highway.

1. Lincoln Navigator


he completely redesigned 2018 Lincoln Navigator was named 2018’s North American Truck of the Year at the North American International Auto Show. The SUV is now aligned with the new Lincoln Continental, creating an impressive image shift. Kumar Galhotra, president of Lincoln and chief marketing officer for Ford, said that winning the award fuels pride in the brand, which is working to revitalize its image among consumers. The comfortable and luxurious Navigator, with a base price of $72,055

2. Audi RS5

(excluding destination), features 30-way adjustable seats and laseretched leather trim. The Lincoln badge even lights up with a soft-blue glow when the vehicle is running. Lincoln’s flagship SUV, now in its third generation, replaces the ten-year-old predecessor. The Navigator is powered by a 3.5-liter, 450-horsepower twin-


he high-performance RS5 boasts an all-new look, both inside and out, in 2018. The new exterior is more aggressive, with more defined lines and a wider flaring of the fenders and rear quarters. Inside the RS5, technology has been updated, with new materials introduced and a serious increase in torque. Powering the 2018 RS5 is a new 2.9-liter, twin-turbo V6 with 450 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. It is paired to an eight-speed tiptronic transmission. The RS5 is offered with RS-specific steering calibration, sport rear differential, carbon-ceramic brakes, and the Audi Drive Select System that allows the driver to select between a number of driving modes. The luxurious cabin offers RS-specific sport seats, Nappa leather upholstery, a heads-up display, and Android Auto or Apple CarPlay compatibility. ➝

84 | MARCH 2018 |

WHAT DRIVES YOU continued from previous page

3. Lexus LC500


he 2018 Lexus LC500 is one of the most interesting luxury coupes in the automobile world. The full-size, two-plus-two, full-luxury coupe comes in two models known as the LC500 and LC500h. The only distinguishable difference is the hybrid badge behind the rear fender scoops. Lexus and Marvel Studios have collaborated to pair the first-ever 2018 Lexus LC with Marvel’s dynamic Black Panther character in the highly acclaimed Black Panther film. As your eye begins to move over the giant wire-mesh grille flowing back to the low hoodline and muscular stance, you begin to see your favorite superhero emerging from this supercar. Power is generated by the 5.0-liter V8 engine producing 471 horsepower and 398 pound-feet

of torque in the gasoline model. The hybrid version is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 producing 295 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque. This is in

conjunction with two synchronous motors in the transmission case, which bump the total system output to 354 horsepower.

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ubaru’s most popular vehicle has been refreshed for 2018 with a revised exterior design, updated multimedia system, retuned suspension for improved ride, and a more upscale interior, especially on the premium models. This midsize crossover-like wagon now has available adaptive full-LED headlights, an improved safety kit, and all-wheel drive on all trim levels. The standard engine offered is the 2.5-liter boxerfour engine producing 175 horsepower. Available in the higher trim levels is the 3.6-liter, six-cylinder boxer engine producing 256 horsepower. The NHTSA gave the 2018 Subaru Outback a five-star rating and a fourstar rollover score. As a result of crashworthiness and crash-prevention tests, the Outback also received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s 2017 Top Safety Pick Award. Prices for 2018 start at $26,810 for the base model, and $28,910 for the premium level. Limited models begin at $33,610 for the top upscale edition. ➝

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WHAT DRIVES YOU continued from previous page

5. Cadillac CT6


he 2018 Cadillac CT6 is designed to compete with the likes of the Jaguar XJ and Audi A8 sedans. It represents the best of what Cadillac has to offer in a luxury sedan. This premium sedan combines full-size dimensions with a midsize feel, incorporating a host of technological features built on General Motors’ lightweight aluminum-and-steel Omega unibody platform. The base CT6 is powered by a 265-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. In addition, there is an available 335-horsepower 3.6-liter and a 404-horsepower 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6. All engines are paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission with available all-wheel drive. Cadillac offers a wide array of premium options on the CT6, including an available 34-speaker Bose Panaray sound system, night vision with a rear camera mirror, and a heads-up

display. Prices for the Cadillac CT6 start at $55,090, depending on the model and trim you select.

6. Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid

electric motor powered by a lithiumion battery. Charging ranges from 2.5 hours with a 240-volt plug to 12 hours on a standard 120-volt plug. The Honda Clarity can travel an EPAestimated 48 miles on battery power, and a 103-horsepower, 1.5-liter inline four extends the total range to 340 miles. The gasoline engine provides additional current to the motor while recharging the batteries. It can also assist in driving the wheels, bringing the Clarity’s total horsepower to 212. Base price for the Honda Clarity is $34,290 with a lengthy list of standard features. Upscale trims are available.


he 2018 Clarity is a combination zero-emission battery-electric vehicle with a range-anxiety-reducing gasoline hybrid engine. The primary power source is the 181-horsepower

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Love in Disguise After ‘Obergefell,’ Robert Montgomery treated Larry Ellis to a Halloween proposal.

Haunted Attraction After Robert Montgomery proposed to Larry Ellis during their Halloween party in 2015, they were married in Hermann Park’s Centennial Gardens last June (below).

By Henry V. Thiel


he stars aligned for Robert Montgomery and Larry Ellis when they met while out and about in Montrose in December 2006. Both had recently moved back to Houston—Montgomery from Washington DC, and Ellis from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They were also both living temporarily with their parents while apartment hunting—Montgomery in Sugar Land, and Ellis in New Caney. Over lunch the next day at Barnaby’s, “Things went well,” Montgomery says, “and from there things progressed.” Since they had both been gone for years and didn’t know many people in Houston, “we spent many nights and days getting to know each other over the phone,” Ellis says. “I knew Larry was the one for me when he sent me flowers for my birthday at work,” Montgomery says. On a weekend trip to DC the next February, Montgomery arranged for their room to be decorated for Valentine’s Day. “I could actually see the red glowing from our hotel room windows as I approached from the Metro rail station,” Ellis recalls. From that point forward, they knew 90 | MARCH 2018 |

they wanted to be together forever. “When we first got together 11 years ago, marriage wasn’t even a thought,” Montgomery says. “It wasn’t legal at the time, and we didn’t think it would ever become the law of the land, let alone even be an option. “After it became legal, Larry kept asking when we would get married,” Montgomery adds. “I planned to propose at our annual Halloween party, but that was months away. Between June and October, Larry became frustrated with me and decided that I was never going to ask.” Finally, during a show at their Halloween party, Montgomery had cast members hold up signs saying, “Larry, will you marry me?” “Lee had no idea,” Montgomery says. “When he turned around and saw the signs, he fell to his knees and started crying like a baby. I dropped to my knees as well, and presented him with a ring.” Montgomery, 59, and Ellis, 49, were married in Hermann Park’s Centennial Gardens on June 25, 2017. Their neighbor and dear friend, Houston associate municipal judge Phyllis Frye,

officiated. Another good friend, Richard Purcell, sang before and after the ceremony. “We injected a little humor into the ceremony as well,” Ellis says. “It was short and sweet, with tears and joy.” Among the 40 wedding guests were Montgomery’s father (his mother is deceased), siblings, nieces and grand-nephew, and Ellis’ parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews. The wedding reception was at a friend’s home in west Houston. The next morning, the newlyweds took off for Honolulu. They chose Hawaii because it seemed like a perfect honeymoon destination that neither of them had ever visited.. “We had a very traditional wedding, so it made sense to honeymoon in a traditional honeymoon location,” Ellis says. “Hawaii was fantastic, and it was quite surprising to see the love from strangers regarding our recent marriage.” Unfortunately, the couple’s home was flooded during Tropical Storm Harvey, so reality has set in once again. They report that their home is now back to normal—“whatever that is.” “And we’re better than ever,” the couple says. Henry V. Thiel is a frequent contributor to OUTSMART magazine. He loves weddings.

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Passionate Reunion Thirty-eight years after meeting at a Baylor sorority, Micki Grimland and Mary Margaret Bodenhamer found true love.

Then and Now Micki Grimland and Mary Margaret Bodenhamer first met 40 years ago as sorority sisters at Baylor University (r). After crossing paths again two years ago at a reunion for Pi Beta Phi, they were married in September.

By Jenny Block


heir love story reads like the script for a blockbuster romance: Girl meets girl at sorority house. Fireworks and confusion ensue. “What is this I feel?” the girls wonder, both identifying as straight at the time. Years pass. Girl re-meets girl at sorority reunion—only now, both women are out lesbians. They fall in love and live happily ever after. That’s the love trajectory of psychotherapist Micki Grimland, 60, and business manager Mary Margaret Bodenhamer, 59. The two met 40 years ago at Baylor University. “We first laid eyes on each other inside of our Pi Beta Phi sorority,” Grimland says. “I was a sophomore and Mary Margaret was a freshman. “It was probably love at first sight,” Grimland adds. “But we didn’t know that we were

lesbians and didn’t know what the energy was between us.” Fast-forward 38 years. “When we saw each other at the reunion, it was immediately clear to both of us that we wanted to date,” Grimland says. “However, we started off as friends, and admitted that to each other a little while into the relationship.” Grimland, born on the Air Force base in Chaumont, France, where her father was stationed, is the owner of Southwest Psychotherapy Associates. Bodenhamer, who is from Arlington, Texas, is the Southwest-area business manager for Pfizer’s oncology-prostate division. “After weeks of traveling back and forth from Houston to Arlington, I felt Micki and I were completely compatible with our love of

92 | MARCH 2018 |

family, curiosity about life, and the enjoyment and contentment of spending time together,” Bodenhamer says. “I knew I wanted to conclude my life with this amazing woman.” It wasn’t long before the couple knew marriage would be the natural next step. Grimland had an elaborate engagement plan in mind. But what happened instead turned out to be even sweeter. “I had had wedding rings made,” Grimland says. “We were getting ready to go on our tropical vacation, and I planned a big fancy proposal [for the trip]. “However, a few days before we left,” she adds, “we were casually sitting on the couch in the afternoon and I thought, ‘This is the moment. The everyday comfort and ease of our attachment and love. This is the reason I want to grow old with her. This simple moment is the

most profound. The moment is right now.’ “I went and got the rings, [and] I got on my knee beside her and asked her to spend the rest of her life with me,” Grimland says. “She looked deep into my eyes with her steady and fierce gaze and said, ‘Absolutely yes!’” The two were legally married by a justice of the peace in front of three of their best friends on August 4, 2017. But they claim September 16, 2017, as their true wedding date because that’s when they held a special ceremony in Mary Margaret’s best friend’s backyard, with family and other loved ones attending. “This is the date we will celebrate as our official marriage day,” Grimland says. One of Grimland’s best friends, Rev. Richard Metheny, officiated along with a second pastor who is also a dear friend. Gidget White, a local performer, sang the couple’s song—“The Way You Move Me” by Gretchen Peters. Grimland says the moment from their wedding that will forever stay in her mind is when Mary Margaret “stepped deep into the strength of her voice and soul and looked at me very intentionally—with a strong conviction and commitment in her eyes that I had not seen so fiercely displayed—and said, ‘I do!’” Bodenhamer says “the love and support of all attendees are the special moments I recall.” The couple used what they called “pretty traditional” vows—“although we did add some vows for those in our audience to make with

us, to support us in our union,” Grimland says. “This was really important to us, as we had some family members who started out conflicted (from a ‘Christian’ point of view) about being able to support our marriage. Everyone stood in affirmation with us. It was deeply, deeply moving.” Because they had just returned from a yoga and meditation trip to Costa Rica with friends for Grimland’s 60th birthday, they wanted a remote and quiet honeymoon. “We stayed in a beautiful home in Tennessee, deep in the middle of the forest,” Grimland says. “It had a porch around the whole house with rocking chairs. We hiked, rested, rocked on the front porch, and had great conversations.” Grimland says Bodenhamer is “without a doubt, the best human being I’ve ever known. Deep to the bone, she is kind, loving, steadfast, grounded, intelligent, passionate, and very trustworthy. Did I also mention she is breathtakingly beautiful?” And Bodenhamer has equally beautiful things to say about Grimland. “She is the most generous, loving soul I have ever met, in addition to being a fierce mother and grandmother. She is deeply compassionate, has a multitude of long-standing friendships, and is my best friend and life partner.” Jenny Block is a regular contributor to OUTSMART magazine.

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( Vanity Fair, Hollywood 2018, Cari Beauchamp) Re: at a summit of women in film in April 2000. “I think about one director who stood up [at the summit] and said, ‘Every time I walk through a studio door, there is a white man on the other side, and I see him immediately try to put me in a box: mother, wife, daughter, or whore. Those are the categories they choose from to relate to me.’” With a laugh, Robinson explains why she passes that lesson on to the students she now teaches and why it made such a difference to her: “Because I am black and gay, when I walk through that studio door, there are still white men on the other side, but they are confused. I use that confusion to start pitching so fast [that] they latch onto the ideas before they can figure out what box to put me in.” ‹

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▼ Molly McNearney ( Vanity Fair, Hollywood 2018, David Kamp)

Re: two of many facts or insights gleaned from an afternoon visit to McNearney’s workplace—Jimmy Kimmel Live!, where she is co-head writer. She also happens to be Kimmel’s wife. 1. She had her daughter, Jane, baptized in the [Catholic] Church. However, the very day of the baptism, she handwrote Jane a letter, to be read at a later date, in which McNearney explains “why I baptized her and what I know sucks about the Church,” e.g., that it “doesn’t allow women to be priests, or homosexuals to get married.” 2. She is pained that her father voted for Donald Trump, but pleased that he has come to regret his vote.

‹ Baptize, Then Clarify Nancy McNearney (seen here with husband Jimmy Kimmel at the 2017 Emmys): what did she write to her daughter about the Catholic Church? 94 | MARCH 2018 |

Queer Quotes Compiled by Blase DiStefano

Sally Field and Sam Greisman


( Good Morning America, 2.17.18, Diane Macedo)

scar-winner Sally Field is playing matchmaker at the Olympics. So while watching the winter games, the actress and her 30-year-old son [Sam Greisman] were texting about his crush on U.S. figure skater Adam Rippon, when Sally responded, “Sam . . . he’s insanely pretty. Find a way . . .” But a good mom doesn’t stop there, does she? Instead, she not only shared the message with her 64,000 Twitter followers; she then tagged the skater’s Twitter handle to make sure that [Rippon] would see the message. Her son just responded, “Yikes.”

Speaking of the Olympics

Tony Kushner


The Good Mom Sally Field (pictured here with her son, Sam Greisman, at the 2013 Critics l l fi m

Freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy on Twitter, 2.15.18: Broke my thumb yesterday in practice. It won’t stop me from competing (obvi) but it does prevent me from shaking Pence’s hand, so . . . Silver linings! Then on 2.17.18 he tweeted about his historic kiss with boyfriend Matt Wilkas: Didn’t realize this moment was being fi lmed yesterday, but I’m so happy that it was. My childhood self would never have dreamed of seeing a gay kiss on TV at the Olympics, but for the first time ever a kid watching at home CAN!

( Out, 2/18, Kurt Osenlund) I wrote [Angels in America] in part because I felt that Reaganism was doing staggering damage and posing a really terrible threat to American democracy and to the world. And, unfortunately, I think I was right about that. But, as I’ve said many times, I think Roy Cohn was a much better person than Trump is. I still think [Cohn] was a terrible person who did terrible things, but he did seem to have enough internal coherence for there to be a possibility of real, abiding loyalty to the people he loved. And I think he actually did love some people. He stuck by and defended Joe McCarthy even when it became unfashionable. Trump dumped Roy as soon as he found out he had AIDS. He’s yelling now about how he wishes he had another lawyer like Roy, but when he found out Roy was sick, he pulled all of his business and they had almost no contact after that. On a daily basis, we’re seeing that there is no place in Trump’s shriveled, damaged soul for anything like object constancy or loyalty to take root. Except to himself. Everyone else is just food or a target.

Cohn or Trump? Tony Kushner (seen here in 2004 accepting his Emmy for Angels in America): is Cohn better than Trump?


MARCH 2018




By Gregg Shapiro

‘Born in Flames’ A 1980s political drama is more relevant than ever.


efore you watch filmmaker Lizzie Borden’s groundbreaking queer 1983 indie classic Born in Flames—re-released on VOD in a newly restored high-definition 35th-anniversary version—it’s important to have some historical perspective. Borden, who at the time the film was made was calling herself bisexual, was an outspoken critic of Republican culture and President Reagan. So despite the film’s sloppy editing and sound issues, as well as its alternately scripted and improvised dialogue, Borden deserves praise for her frighteningly prophetic voice that speaks directly to our current social and political climate. In other words, 35 years after it was released, Born in Flames is hotter and more relevant than ever. This fictional drama is set in a not-too-distantfuture New York, during a week of celebration commemorating the 10th anniversary of “The War of Liberation,” which was the most peaceful revolution the world has ever known. It’s an opportunity to take a look back at the liberation events and the progress made during the 10 years that passed, with an eye to the future. Women and minorities are now playing more prominent roles in society than ever before. A pair of pirate-radio DJs, Isabel (out singer/actress Adele Bertei) and Honey, keep listeners informed— as do the three female editors at the socialist newspaper. Unfortunately, there is division amongst the women about how to cover the radical, femaleempowering actions of the lesbian Women’s Army, led by Adelaide (Jean Satterfield).

‘Flames’ Is Hot

Jean Satterfield (as Adelaide, far left) and out singer/actress Adele Bertie (as Isabel) star in Lizzie Borden’s Born in Flames.

Adelaide is a protégé of the outspoken lawyer and activist Zella (feminist, activist, and actress Flo Kennedy playing a character named after her mother). Predictably, many men are none too thrilled with the changed attitudes about women. The male opposition, including government agents and officers of the law, keeps close tabs on the Women’s Army and other female activists. When Adelaide (who works construction during the day and goes to school at nights) is detained and dies mysteriously in her cell, the various women’s factions team up to avenge her death. One group of women takes over the local CBS affiliate, interrupting a presidential speech so that their taped demands and warnings can be broadcast. Another group makes a bomb and plants it in (of all places) the original World

96 | MARCH 2018 |

Trade Center. Part of what makes watching Born in Flames so fascinating is picking out cast members, early in their careers, who went on to much bigger things. That’s Oscar-winning filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow as one of the newspaper editors. A young Eric Bogosian can be seen as one of the CBS technicians. The late gay actor/performance artist Ron Vawter plays an FBI agent. Given the era in which this film was made, as well as its shoestring budget, Born in Flames can be forgiven for its many technical shortcomings. What makes it essential viewing with a timeless quality is the way visionary director Borden foresaw so many world-changing events of the last three decades. First Run Features (

Gregg Shapiro is a regular contributor to OUTSMART magazine.

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By Gregg Shapiro

Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road Elton John, Jason Gould, Sam Smith, and much more.


n January 2018, Elton John announced that he would be retiring from touring. His threeyear farewell concert tour is sure to be one of the biggest musical events in contemporary pop-music history. The release of his doubledisc hits-compilation Diamonds (Rocket/ Island/UMe) preceded the announcement by a couple of months. At 34 tracks, Diamonds does a good job of representing the first 10 years of John’s career on the first disc. However, things go awry on the second disc, especially since this represents a much longer period—1980 to the present day, a time when the hits were somewhat less plentiful. Because it covers more than 36 years and over 15 studio albums, as well as significant movie soundtracks and original cast recordings, there are obvious exclusions. Nevertheless, as updated collections go, Diamonds sparkles. [EDITOR’S NOTE : Elton John performs in Houston on December 8 and 9 at the Toyota Center.] Arriving six years after his debut EP, Jason Gould’s first full-length album, Dangerous Man (Qwest), is a safe but solid disc. Gould, the gay son of Barbra Streisand and Elliott Gould, holds his own throughout the record, performing originals and cover tunes. A couple of the songs from the EP, “Morning Prayer” and “This Masquerade,” have made their way onto the full-length. His covers of “Bridge over Troubled Water,” “For All We Know,” and “The Way You Look Tonight” are all pleasing to the ear. “The Stranger,” co-written with Marilyn and Alan Bergman, the couple responsible for some of Streisand’s biggest hits, could be the sole nod to Gould’s mother. Also notable are collaborations with legendary lesbian songwriter Marsha Malamet, including “One Day” and “All’s Forgiven.” Let’s face it: Sam Smith is the gay-male Adele. If anything, his new album The Thrill of It All (Capitol) only seals the deal. It’s an unavoidable comparison, especially when Smith opens the disc with a heart-tugging ballad such as “Too Good at Goodbyes.” The gospel-style

choir is also a nice touch. The biggest difference between the new disc and Smith’s award-winning debut album, In the Lonely Hour, is the way that ballads dominate. There’s nothing here like “Money on My Mind,” “Like I Can,” “Restart,” or even “La La La.” That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as “Say It First,” “Him,” “Burning,” “Palace,” and the religious experience of “Pray” (cue gospel choir) demonstrate that Smith knows his strengths. Awe-inspiring gay singer/songwriter Jim Andralis released his solo debut in 2016. Luckily for us, we didn’t have to wait long for the follow-up album. Available on CD and 180-gram gorgeous pink vinyl (with a download code included), Shut Up Shut Up ( by Jim Andralis & The Syntonics exceeds all expectations. With stunning girl-group harmonies provided by The Syntonics (Julie Delano, Leslie Graves, Susan Hwang, and Jessie Kilguss), Andralis has a way of saying in song the things that many of us are thinking. This is best exemplified by “My Therapist Says,” “Don’t Blame New York,” “I’m a Monster,” “Don’t Trust Me,” the food-server anthem “Cover My Section,” and the title cut. Half-Light (Nonesuch), Rostam Batmanglij’s second album since his departure from Vampire Weekend (following I Had a Dream That You Were Mine, his 2016 collaboration with Hamilton Leithauser of The Walkmen) is a radiant musical experience that is both varied and thrilling. Recording as Rostam, the gay musician has created an awe-inspiring quilt of musical styles and genres that fit together as if they were always meant to be in the same song or on the same album. “Bike Dream” is a sexy queer number that should be on everyone’s playlist. “Don’t Let It Get to You” marries African rhythms with glitzy tech to create an irresistible excuse for dancing. “Gwan” and the title cut are simply exquisite.

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Patrick Boothe, a gay Austin-based singer/ songwriter, returns with You Have to Believe We Are Tragic ( The title may sound like a parody of the Olivia Newton-John song “Magic,” but the material is serious. Boothe wanted the album “to reflect what it may be like for one to fall in love while working through depression and anxiety.” This definitely comes across on the songs “Matter,” “Untouchable,” “Living Man,” “Good People,” and “Do Better.” In recent years, musical genres you might not think of as being particularly welcoming to out gay men—say country, metal, or jazz, for example—have begun to change in beneficial ways. Even the blues, perhaps the last vestige of the straight-male musician, has an openly gay artist in its ranks with harmonica player Jason Ricci. Over the course of 11 songs clocking in at 77 minutes, Approved by Snakes (Eller Soul) by Jason Ricci & The Bad Kind confirms that Ricci and his band are a blues force to be reckoned with. Unlike the blues, dance music has long been the province of gay men, as both performers and fans. On Celebrate (Burning Tyger), Win Marcinak blends covers (Three Dog Night’s “Celebrate,” Sylvester’s “Disco Heat/Mighty Real,” Kajagoogoo’s “Too Shy,” and Aretha’s “Rock Steady”) with originals. Ulla Hedwig, one of Bette Midler’s original Harlettes, sings with Marcinak on “We Are What We Are.” Finally, musical theater has played and continues to play an important role in the lives of gay men. Three recent cast recordings feature significant gay-male contributions. The late Howard Ashman was not only behind the Broadway musical Little Shop of Horrors, but he also helped to revive Disney’s animated musical with blockbusters such as The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. The first collaboration by Ashman and Alan Menken, Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (Ghostlight), has

finally made its way to CD on the premiere cast recording featuring James Earl Jones, Skylar Astin, and Santino Fontana. Creative and personal partners Dan Martin and Michael Biello collaborated with Jennifer Robbins on Marry Harry: Original OffBroadway Cast Recording ( about the intersection of love and food. Zombie Bathhouse features a book by Brian Kirst, with music and lyrics by Scott Free (whose fans may recognize some of the music from Free’s solo albums).

Gregg Shapiro is a regular contributor to OUTSMART magazine.

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By Terri Schlichenmeyer

‘Transgender History’ The roots of today’s revolution.

Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity C. Riley Snorton When the Cornell University Library recently assembled a display of “queer and trans performance” items, there was a singular piece of paper that caught Snorton’s eye: it was a French postcard depicting two black “transvestite” performers, possibly in a minstrel show. The Library called it a “rare” piece, but Snorton shows that African-American history is rife with examples of transgenderism. • During the Civil War, for example, slave women dressed in men’s clothing in order to be seen as male and to avoid bondage. Even Harriet Tubman disguised herself as a man to deter arrest. • Black sex-trade workers sometimes dressed as women, often to great mocking and even greater scandal. Nearly a century later, Lucy Hicks Anderson, a madam, became “the first transgendered black to be legally tried and convicted for impersonating a woman,” and was sent to prison for it. • Snorton also cites stories of Ava Betty Brown and Annie Lee Grant, both featured in Ebony and Jet magazines, the latter photographed in clothing for men and for women. • Readers might quibble with issues of definition, particularly “transgender” versus “cross-dressing.” Snorton refers to both in this book, but doesn’t seem to make very strong distinctions between the two. • There’s a wide variety of case studies and interesting stories in this book—much more than the average person might think there’d be—but whether the author has made the material accessible is quite another matter. • University of Minnesota Press ( —Terri Schlichenmeyer

Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Evolution, Revised Edition by Susan Stryker 2008, 2017 Seal Press ( 303 pages $17.99/$23.49 Canada

Author Hallie Lieberman


t had to start somewhere. Someone had to make the first step, to pave the way, to drive a stake in the ground and say, “Here, now.” Someone had to be the first so that others could follow, and in the newly updated book Transgender History by Susan Stryker, you’ll see where we go next. Opening a history book with a chapter on word definitions might seem odd, but author Susan Stryker notes that the “remarkable changes” over the last decade demand it. Thus begins this book, with new language for what is an old lifestyle. Indeed, America’s first recorded “intersex” individual was Thomas(ine) Hall, who lived in the 1620s, “sometimes as a man and sometimes as a woman.” Seventy years later, however, the colony of Massachusetts made “cross-dressing” illegal, and those laws spread: by the 1850s, many U.S. cities had ordinances against dressing in clothing normally worn by the opposite sex. And yet, it was hard to stop people who wanted to dress as (or fully transition to) another

100 | MARCH 2018 |

gender. Throughout the 1800s, records show that women dressed as men for battle, cross-dressers braved the frontier, men ran away from their families to be true to their feminine selves, and Native American cultures embraced transgender people. Stryker notes that after anesthesia was invented and surgeries were safer, “individuals began approaching doctors to request surgical alteration of parts of their bodies.” The movement was relatively quiet around the time that the Nazis torched Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin. But then American Christine Jorgensen “burst onto the scene” in late 1952 when she traveled to Copenhagen for trans surgery. Her ensuing fame didn’t signal full acceptance for trans people, but it was a start: riots in 1959 led to activism in the 1960s, and post-Stonewall groups consolidated to lend support and work through “difficult decades” of the ‘70s,

‘80s, and the AIDS crisis. Today, says Stryker, though we live in interesting times of Trump and turmoil, the news is heartening. Millennials and “post-Baby Boomers” have expressed more acceptance of “trans-gender as part of the ‘anti-heteronormative’ mix.” Though Transgender History is a revised edition of a book first published a decade ago, it has a fresh feel, thanks to the author’s recent additions. The first chapter, somewhat of a dictionary, schools readers on new ways of talking about LGBTQ issues and individuals, while the last chapter of trans history brings readers up to the present, including topics of politics, public potties, and celebrity. What makes Stryker’s book unusual is that, though it’s not always chronological, it is breezy and casually readable. There’s no stuffiness here, and no scholarly overtones: Stryker makes this history accessible for people who want a story and not a textbook. So this book is a pleasant surprise—easy to read, not overly wordy, and with enough illustrations to make for enjoyable reading. For anyone who wants a basic, yet lively, overview of trans life in America, Transgender History is a great start. Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was three years old, and she lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.

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106 | MARCH 2018 |

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Houston Community College ............................................................. .................713/481-3040


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3700 Buffalo Speedway................713/418-7000

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3215 Westheimer ........................... 713/522-1934

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MARCH 2018

| 107

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MARKETPLACE ADVERTISING RATES Deadline: March. 20 for the APRIL Issue. For rates/information call 713/520-7237 ext. 10.

SIGNOUT continued from page 112

responsibilities come to the surface with Mercury retrograde at midmonth. They aren’t new problems, but you are ready to deal with them. Make sure you have some time for yourself, so you don’t feel resentful about the upcoming responsibilities. AQUARIUS (January 20–February 18). Finances and resources are in the spotlight this month. You are trying to make better use of your creative and artistic skills. You are valuing your own work more, and expecting others to feel the same way. You will not want to be trapped by old debts. You are more outspoken about your views and needs by midmonth. Old ideas may resurface as you find a way to integrate them into your life and your work. You may also hear from old friends from your youth who have been stimulated by the Mercury retrograde. It would be best to act on these thoughts after April 20 to ensure a better chance of success. Career opportunities continue to open up for you. Take your time, devise a plan, and be ready to put that plan into action and expect some results by mid-May! PISCES (February 19–March 20). Happy Birthday to the Mermaids

and Mermen! This is your personal yearly cycle of endings and renewal. With Mercury retrograde, you will be more introspective than usual about your past accomplishments. You are reaching out to renew bonds with old friends, to see if those relationships

RYAN can be refreshed. If some groups and organizations aren’t serving your needs, you will pick up your blocks and go home. Finances are the focus in the second half of the month, especially with Mercury retrograde during that time. This can be a great month to review investments and clear up any old, existing problems. Having patience with others may be difficult this month, especially when dealing with those in bureaucratic positions. And finally, be sure to find some time for rest and relaxation this month!

Voted Houstons best massage therapist, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017! –outsmart magazine

For more astro-insight, log on to


Thank you again to my OutSmart readers for voting me Best Astrologer for all of these years.”




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401 BRANARD STREET | HOUSTON, TEXAS 77006 | MONTROSECENTER.ORG | | MARCH MARCH2018 2018 | | 109 113 LillyRoddy_Nov14.indd 1

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definitive home to the man’s man - leather, bear, jock or muscle, you’ll find them here! DJs every night, multiple patios and a leather/accessories shop inside the bar. Noon-2am every day, 611 Hyde Park, 713.523.BIRD

BLUR Multi-level dance club featuring an upstairs lounge and balconies. Ladies enjoy Wet and Wild Wed., 18-year-olds welcome Thurs., Latin night on Sun. Happy hour 8–10pm; free cover before 11pm. 710 Pacific St. • CLUB 2020 Located downtown, this urban club features Clubbers Friday with male and female dancers. Its 6,400 square feet also offers theater-sized viewing screens and VIP rooms. 2020 Leeland • 713.227. 9667 CLUB CRYSTAL Find many of Inergy’s former staff and décor at this two-room Latin/hip-hop club. Sunday evening drag shows rule the roost. 6680 Southwest Frwy, next to Colorado 713.278.2582 • CROCKER BAR This comfortably remodeled Montrose nightspot also offers karaoke on Tuesdays and Thursdays and extended happy-hour prices throughout the week. 2312 Crocker • 713.529.3355.

All Your Country Sports Bar

Vodka Drinks

7am–2am HOURS: Mon-Sat Sunday 12pm–2am

$ 50


617 Fairview • Houston, Texas • 713.528.8102

BAR NONE! OUTSMART’s Bar Guide is the best place to advertise your bar! Call 713.520.7237, ext. 710 |

GUAVA LAMP This trendy and friendly video and cruise bar gets busy during happy hour and stays busy ‘til closing. Karaoke on Wed. and Sun. 570 Waugh Dr. • 713.524.3359 HAMBURGER MARY’S Tuesday & Wednesday 4p-10p, Thursday & Friday 4p-2a, Saturday & Sunday 11a-2a EAGLE Part of the Eagle worldwide family, it’s the


JR’s Bar & Grill A Taste of New Orleans in Montrose

GEORGE Regulars rule at this comfortable neighborhood sports bar. Sports Saturdays and Sundays start at 3pm with dart and pool tournaments. 617 Fairview • 713.528.8102.


NEON BOOTS DANCEHALL & SALOON Houston’s only LGBTQ country dancehall opens Wednesday–Sunday. Wednesday features Steak Night and Bingo. Free dance classes on Thursdays and Karaoke. 11410 Hempstead Hwy 713.677.0828 • PEARL BAR This LGBT-friendly lounge in the Washington corridor features daily highlights like open mic night, steak night, and drink specials. 4216 Washington • RICH’S HOUSTON Houston’s most iconic and largest LGBT dance club, with multiple levels featuring a video/show bar and a private VIP lounge. No cover before 10:30 p.m. 2401 San Jacinto • 281.846.6685 THE RIPCORD This multi-roomed leather bar boasts a busy patio, especially on the weekends. The Forge shop located inside the club. Saturday nights with DJ Tad Dvorak 715 Fairview Ave • 713.521.2792.



Helpline: 713-46P-FLAG

804-808 Pacific St. | 713.521.2519 | Twitter @jrshouston






MICHAEL’S OUTPOST Jerry Atwood, Clay Howell, Neil Massey, Steve Wheaton, and Roger Woest take turns at the keys at this comfortable neighborhood piano bar. 1419 Richmond Ave. • 713.520.8446.

Where Everyone is Welcome!

PA R T Y -

If you want to drink, that’s your business. If you want to stop, that’s ours.

JR’S BAR & GRILL This Montrose standard offers drag and strip shows throughout the week, karaoke Thurs. and Sun., plus pool tables and male dancers. 808 Pacific St. • 713.521.2519

Hundreds of meetings a week in your area. Call (713) 686-6300 or visit For general information visit:

WHAT THE DUCK SHOW! Wednesdays, 8:30pm

There’s always something going on at:

TONY’S CORNER POCKET 817 W. Dallas • 713/571-7870

Houston’s Hottest Male Amateur Strip Contest Headquarters! Nightly Specials – Call for Details Cold Beverages & Hot Guys!

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2/24/16 12:32 PM


the BAR

With ROBBIE ORTEGA JR’s Bar & Grill Shifts: Weekends on the Patio; Weekdays Open -8pm

What is your favorite shot to make? To drink? To make: “Sex with an Alligator” (Midori/Jagermeister/Chambord) To drink: Rumple Minze What are you best known for? It’s a secret recipe simply known as the “Robbie Special” Grindr, Scruff or other app you see most often? I’d say Grindr, but that should end too. People should go out and meet people in person. If you weren’t a bartender… what career would you choose? Education. I was in it for many years.

RUDYARD’S The eclectic British pub is known for its craft beers as well as for the burgers. Most weekends you’ll find up-and-coming local bands rocking the house. 2010 Waugh Dr. • 713.521.0521 • SOUTH BEACH Closed for remodeling. BARCODE With the longest daily happy hours in Montrose (8am–10pm), this neighborhood watering hole is very popular. Drag shows Wednesday–Sunday. Karaoke Monday & Wednesday. 817 Fairview • 713.526.2625 • TONY’S CORNER POCKET This comfortable club has one of the friendliest bar staffs in town. Amateur dance contest each Thurs., Fri., & Sat. at 11pm. Opens daily at noon. 817 W. Dallas • 713.571.7870 VIVIANA’S Happening weekend-only gay dance club with Latin DJs, singers, talent shows & Sunday strippers. 4624 Dacoma • 713.681.4104. BEAUMONT ORLEANS STREET PUB AND PATIO The place to hang for food, fun, and booze in a newly renovated pub, in good weather or bad. Open every night from 7pm–2am. 650 Orleans • 409.835.4243.

Best Steak Night at a Bar Winner

Pop-up Cooking Events, Catering & Private Chef GUAVA LAMP Tuesday Nights GEORGE SPORTS BAR Thursday Nights

BRYAN/COLLEGE STATION HALO VIDEO BAR The only LGBT dance club in Bryan/College station, this sleek spot is open Thurs.– Sat. smack in the middle of Aggieland. 121 North Main • 979.823.6174 • GALVESTON

CHEF MICHELE 832.419.0165




23RD ST. STATION The bar features daily drink specials and the weekend is filled with pulsing music, hot dancers, drag shows, and a Sunday Tea Dance. 1706 23rd St. • 409.621.1808. ROBERT’S LAFITTE The Island institution features a private patio with swimming pool. On Sat. and Sun. nights, the Ladies of Lafitte show takes the stage. 2501 Avenue Q (at 25th) • 409.765.9092. RUMORS BEACH BAR Drink Specials every night and daily day drinking specials starting at Noon. Great drag shows Friday – Sunday and karaoke Sunday – Thursday at 8p. Sunday Drag Bingo. 3102 Seawall Blvd. • 409.497.4617 •



ition y’s Ed dd a P St, March


SPRING RANCH HILL SALOON With its two pool tables, 52-inch plasma televisions, and large dance floor, this popular northside spot also offers DJs Thursday–Saturday. 247041 I-45N Suite 103 • 281.298.9035 • THE ROOM BAR AND LOUNGE This bar and video lounge has a laid-back atmosphere including daily drink specials, karaoke, free pool, drag shows, and live DJs several nights a week. 4915 FM 2920 • 281.907.6866 • |

MARCH 2018




By Lilly Roddy

Get Your Projects Started Now Then, later, reconnect with existing clients and friends.


ercury goes retrograde for the first time this year from March 18 through April 20. Mercury will be retrograde in Aries and will have the strongest impact on the cardinal signs—Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn. Get your projects started before midmonth, and then use the Mercury retrograde period to take care of ongoing projects, reconnecting with existing clients and friends, and reworking your relationship and partnership a ee ents. • T e e a e also t o Full oons t s month. The light of the Full Moon allows us to see the strength of our emotional ego. The Full Moon on the 1st in Virgo helps us to focus on improving our environmental and physical health, while the next Full Moon in Libra will help us focus on refining our relationships and sense of fairness. ARIES (March 21–April 19). As the month begins, you are in a period of rest and retreat, being very selective about the activities you participate in and the people you see. You have some good ideas, but are having a hard time putting them into motion. That all begins to change after the 6th. With Mercury retrograde in your sign after the 18th, you will want to focus on what’s currently on your plate. Give yourself extra time to get to wherever you are going! Career becomes very important after the 17th, and you may feel that you need to make some changes. This is a great month for planning, but delay taking any action until after April 20. TAURUS (April 20–May 20). Connecting with people of like minds and compassionate hearts is the motivation as the month begins. The first half of March is an excellent time to work with business and community organizations, letting you promote your career while giving back to the community at the same time. The latter half of March is about connecting with old friends and business associates, which can be fruitful on several levels. By midmonth, you are ready for some R&R in a familiar place that can provide you with time to focus on yourself and rid your mind of excess clutter. Relationships, career options, and investment opportunities all continue to improve, but it is best to wait until after April 20 to act. GEMINI (May 21–June 21). Career, long-term security, and personal satisfaction are all important this month. With your career, you are looking for internal satisfaction as well as financial assurance. You have been in an especially sensitive time since last month as you have avoided crowds and people who are too demanding. Relationships have been needing more care and tending as well, and your partner may have seemed more needy than usual. By midmonth, you are ready for more social encounters with friends. Your ruler, Mercury, goes retrograde

in your area of friends. You should be hearing from people from your past! CANCER (June 22–July 22). As your month begins, you are in a time of reflection about your spiritual beliefs. You are more open-minded than usual, and can understand ideas that have eluded you in the past. This is a very good month for writing, teaching, or being the student. Toward midmonth, you are focused on your career—especially with the Mercury retrograde cycle occurring there. This can be an excellent time to reconnect with previous or existing clients and customers. For some, this can be a time when you are just fed up with your work conditions, and are ready to “leave the building!” Your feelings may be correct, but you will want to wait until after April 20 to leave. Your relationship will need some attention after midmonth—otherwise, tempers could flare. Pace yourself! LEO (July 23–August 22). March is a very reflective time for you. You are examining your relationships and how much real intimacy is there. This is a great month for you and your partner to renew those deeper emotional bonds. In business, you want to make sure that you are dealing with people who have values and beliefs similar to yours. With all of the influence from Neptune, you may be discovering things that had been hidden from you in the past. By midmonth, you are feeling a little lighter and looking for some mental diversions. You are looking for new projects and themes for your career that address your need for passion, and a chance to rework those themes comes your way near the end of the month! VIRGO (August 23–September 22). Relationships are the main menu item for you as the month begins. If you are involved, this is a time of renewal—not only for physical and emotional bonding, but for strengthening spiritual connections as well. You can see your partner more clearly because you can see your own shadow more clearly. Family responsibilities may draw you away from personal activity and create some tension in the process. You are giving a lot of time to creative activity that may involve your children—or your own inner child. Your ruling planet, Mercury, goes retrograde on the 18th. This can be a good time for you to work on finances, get legal documents in order, and create a greater pathway for communication between you and your partner. Keep your decisions on hold until after April 20 when Mercury is direct, so those decisions will have a better chance of working out. LIBRA (September 23–October 23). As the month begins, you are focused on both your personal health and your work environment. Coworkers can be needier and more demanding than usual, since

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they think you are the company therapist anyway! This month you will not have as much patience for them, as you are paying more attention to your boundaries and how well you are treated. You can more easily change some of those bad habits by paying attention to diet and exercise this month. Mercury will be retrograde in your relationship sector. For those who are involved, this is a time to renew those bonds. If you are having problems, they will come to the surface to be discussed and resolved. If you are single (or perhaps even involved), people from your past may show up to renew previous romantic connections. SCORPIO (October 24–November 21). Life continues to be busy with Jupiter (planet of travel, education, and expanded perspectives) moving through your sign until next November. You are ready to act on these opportunities, especially when it comes to getting your message and views out there. You are in an especially creative time when ideas are just coming out of thin air. This is a better month to get your ideas organized. You will be reviewing your work environment with this Mercury retrograde. You may want to relocate your work space, or even look for another place to work. The retrograde will bring up old problems that can be addressed in some fashion. It’s also a super time to get back onto an exercise or health regimen, especially with this retrograde. Relationships take the spotlight at the end of the month! SAGITTARIUS (November 22–December 21). You have had a busy February, and that continues through the first half of this month. With Mercury going retrograde by midmonth, you will be ready for a break. With Mars so active, this is a great time to improve your overall health. You are more direct, and may not sleep as well as you’d like. Mars tends to keep us on guard. Home will be a sanctuary where you can escape from the demands placed on you. Your creative juices do kick in, but you are taking it at a much more leisurely pace after midmonth. You are in a very conservative frame of mind, and may consider a budget when it comes to finances this month. You are also looking at investing for the future to improve your outcomes. CAPRICORN (December 22–January 19). You are looking at long-term plans for improvement in your career, your relationships, and your long-term security. You have been able to communicate the subtleties of your needs more easily, as you have been more open to your inner child—thereby getting closer to what fulfills you and gives life meaning. You are ready to reinvent parts of your life to revive that missing passion that makes you want to get up every day and make a difference. Home and family continued on page 109

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Photos by Dalton DeHart and Edgardo Aguilar

On January 28, the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce and the Executive & Professional Association of Houston hosted a 2018 mixer, “The New Year, New You,” at Guava Lamp. Pictured are Michele Laprade, Viviana Carranza, Jack Berger, Michelle Brockway, Ryan Wilson, Tammi Wallace, Gary Wood, and Roy Alvarez Jr.

On January 28, Bayou City Performing Arts hosted a Crescendo Society reception at the Montrose Center. Pictured are Michael Stewart, Tyler Ruberg, Veronica Yawn, Jerry Aucoin, and Debora Yahn.

On January 31, the Diana Foundation hosted a reception celebrating the Foundation’s history archive at the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections, at M.D. Anderson Library. Pictured are (front row) Lisa German, Marilyn Meyrs, and Vince Lee, and (back row) Michael Liebbert, John Heinzerling, Tanner Williams, Christian Kelleher, and Dan Maxwell.

On February 2, the Harris County Democratic Lawyers Association hosted its February 2018 luncheon with Barbara Radnofsky. Pictured are Dinesh Singhal, Dalton DeHart, Mike Doyle, Ben Rybeck (of Brazos Bookstore), and Radnofsky.

On January 10, Rich’s Houston hosted The Fantasy of Las Vegas: A Mystery & Fantasy Mardi Gras Ball. Pictured are Scott Miller (president), Robert Harwood (host), Pierre Alexandre (contest winner), Clifford Dotson (host), and Ed Bradshaw (member representative).

On February 4, John Ross Palmer Art hosted the 2018 Escapist Initiation Ceremony. Pictured are congressman Al Green, Paula Hawkins, Ryan Lindsay, John Ross Palmer, Elena Sandovici, A.V.M. Hawkins, and district attorney Kim Ogg.

On January 12, Brian and Laurell Tagtmeier hosted a meet-and-greet for judicial candidates at George’s Country Sports Bar. Pictured are candidates with the Tagtmeiers.

On January 14, the Human Rights Campaign Houston hosted a Gala Table Captains Event at the home of Frank Billingsley and Kevin Gilliard. Pictured are Stephen Goldberg, Gary Wilson, Krystal Gilliam, Rey Ocanas, Josh Beasley, Gilliard, and Billingsley.

On January 20, the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce hosted a Building Business program at 3 Greenway Plaza. Pictured are Kelly Hejtmancik, Bryan Cotton, Tammi Wallace, Gary Wood, Bob Harvey, and Patrick Jankowski.

On February 11, the T.R.U.T.H. Project hosted an AIDS Walk Houston Kickoff Mixer at Guava Lamp. Pictured are supporters of the T.R.U.T.H. Project.

On February 11, the Executive & Professional Association of Houston hosted a February 2018 dinner meeting at the 1940 Air Terminal Museum. Pictured are (back row) Ken Mingus, Robert Hammond, and Tom Baker, and (front row) Dr. Fran Smith, and Susan Smith-Snider.

On January 21, the Houston Hurricanes, the Lone Star Veterans, and the Lone Star Volleyball Association hosted charity sand volleyball and glow volleyball tournaments. Pictured are Brian Crumby, Bart Boushley, Matt Arnold, and Mark Reyna.

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Bruce W. Smith, DDS

Samuel A. Carrell, DDS




March 2018  
March 2018