Queer Voices

February 7th 2024 Queer Voices

February 08, 2024 Queer Voices
February 7th 2024 Queer Voices
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Queer Voices
February 7th 2024 Queer Voices
Feb 08, 2024
Queer Voices

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As the curtains rise on another episode of Queer Voices, we're whisked backstage into the world of "On Your Feet," where the effervescent Gaby Albo lets us in on the subtleties of channeling Gloria Estefan's spirit. Gaby’s anecdotes about her journey from the gymnastics vault to the theatre stage are not only inspiring but brimming with revelations, like her aspiration to plant her feet firmly on American soil. Our chat dances through the exciting intricacies of her role, from choreography that's rich in cultural heritage to the beloved songs that have audiences swaying in their seats.

Turning the spotlight on community representation, we're joined by Deborah Montcrief Bell and Kendra Walker, who eloquently speak on selecting Pride Parade Grand Marshals. They underscore the process's democratic heart, reflecting a broader theme of inclusivity that resonates through our discussions on creating accessible events and embracing intersectionality within the LGBTQ+ Jewish community. Queer Voices echoes with laughter and learning as we explore how our collective identities shape our experiences, from the ebullience of Pride celebrations to the solemnity of traditional Jewish seders.

As the final notes of our episode fade, Katelyn Hartman and I reflect on the powerful narratives that have unfolded – stories that span from the personal triumphs of individuals like Gabby to the steadfast resilience of our broader LGBTQ+ community. The voices that have shared their journeys with us stand as a testament to the strength found in unity and the beauty of diverse identities coming together. Queer Voices may be a podcast, but the connections it fosters carry the weight and warmth of real-life conversations, inviting you to be a part of something that transcends the airwaves.

Queer Voices airs in Houston Texas on 90.1FM KPFT and is heard as a podcast here. Queer Voices hopes to entertain as well as illuminate LGBTQ issues in Houston and beyond. Check out our socials at:

https://www.facebook.com/QueerVoicesKPFT/ and
https://www.instagram.com/queervoices90.1kpft/

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

As the curtains rise on another episode of Queer Voices, we're whisked backstage into the world of "On Your Feet," where the effervescent Gaby Albo lets us in on the subtleties of channeling Gloria Estefan's spirit. Gaby’s anecdotes about her journey from the gymnastics vault to the theatre stage are not only inspiring but brimming with revelations, like her aspiration to plant her feet firmly on American soil. Our chat dances through the exciting intricacies of her role, from choreography that's rich in cultural heritage to the beloved songs that have audiences swaying in their seats.

Turning the spotlight on community representation, we're joined by Deborah Montcrief Bell and Kendra Walker, who eloquently speak on selecting Pride Parade Grand Marshals. They underscore the process's democratic heart, reflecting a broader theme of inclusivity that resonates through our discussions on creating accessible events and embracing intersectionality within the LGBTQ+ Jewish community. Queer Voices echoes with laughter and learning as we explore how our collective identities shape our experiences, from the ebullience of Pride celebrations to the solemnity of traditional Jewish seders.

As the final notes of our episode fade, Katelyn Hartman and I reflect on the powerful narratives that have unfolded – stories that span from the personal triumphs of individuals like Gabby to the steadfast resilience of our broader LGBTQ+ community. The voices that have shared their journeys with us stand as a testament to the strength found in unity and the beauty of diverse identities coming together. Queer Voices may be a podcast, but the connections it fosters carry the weight and warmth of real-life conversations, inviting you to be a part of something that transcends the airwaves.

Queer Voices airs in Houston Texas on 90.1FM KPFT and is heard as a podcast here. Queer Voices hopes to entertain as well as illuminate LGBTQ issues in Houston and beyond. Check out our socials at:

https://www.facebook.com/QueerVoicesKPFT/ and
https://www.instagram.com/queervoices90.1kpft/

Speaker 1:

Hello everybody, this is Queer Voices, a home-produced podcast that has grown out of a radio show that's been on the air in Houston, texas, for several decades. This week, brett Cullum talks with Gabby Albow, who is coming to Houston to star as Gloria Estevan in the Broadway show On your Feet.

Speaker 2:

In the beginning I was trying to imitate her and at some point, like giving her voice, and at some point I was like no, no, no, no, no, I'm not an impersonator, like I got cast because, of course, I have similar attributes that she has and that's enough. But so I'm going to try to tell her story with all the truth and with my skills, like in my own way.

Speaker 1:

Deborah Montcrieve Bell has a discussion with Kendra Walker about voting for this year's Pride Parade Grand Marshals.

Speaker 3:

They'll be able to go to our website, wwwpridechustin365.org. You'll see the grand marshal tab and then you'll just click on voting and all of the candidates will be listed, and then you pick your candidate of choice and then you cast your vote.

Speaker 1:

Deborah has a conversation with the Queer Jews about their mission and activities and we have news wrap from this way out.

Speaker 4:

I am Brett Cullum and right now, on Queer Voices, I am joined by actress and singer Gabby Albo, who is starring in the role of Gloria Estefan, for the musical On your Feet from Tuts, which runs January 30th until February 11th here in Houston. It will be at the Hobby Center for Performing Arts. Gabby was the first performer to do the musical entirely in Spanish, so that's a very neat thing. And, gabby, welcome to Queer Voices.

Speaker 2:

Hello, hola everybody. I'm happy and excited to be here.

Speaker 4:

The first thing that I wanted to ask you about is it must be really intimidating to play Gloria Estefan. I mean, she's still with us, she's still around. She's this huge force in Latin music. They've even given her the name the Queen of Spanish Pop. I wanted to ask real quick have you met her?

Speaker 2:

We've met three times already.

Speaker 4:

Wow, what do you think is the key to playing Gloria? How do you channel her? Is there like a trademark move or a mannerism or something?

Speaker 2:

You know what? That's a good question. In the beginning I was very stressed about that. I was watching all the YouTube videos possible. I was looking at her interviews to see her more as a person and then try to see her in videos of her regular, normal life and then also see her show videos, which is a different persona. In the beginning I was trying to imitate her and at some point like even her voice, and then somewhere I was like no, no, no, no, no, I'm not an impersonator, like I got cast because, of course, I have similar attributes that she has and that's enough. But so I'm going to try to tell her story with all the truth and with my skills, like in my own way, and I think it has worked out good.

Speaker 4:

Great. What was her impression? Has she seen you do the role?

Speaker 2:

Yes, twice, and she likes it. She's been very complimentary, is that it?

Speaker 4:

Yes, no, that's it.

Speaker 2:

Oh great. No, she's been super nice. She's always really grateful that there's a lot of Latino people telling her story. Not a lot of us are Cuban, but she likes that. She likes that it's not just a Cuban story or her story. It's a lot of our stories told in that show.

Speaker 4:

I would love to ask you what's your favorite song to perform in the show, Because when I think of Gloria's music catalog, it's just a hammer to my brain. It's like I have so many favorites. So what's yours?

Speaker 2:

I love it. Actually, my favorite Gloria songs are Mi Tierra and Con Los Años, and I don't sing any of those songs. It's the saddest part. I sing a million songs in the show but not those, but the ones that I sing in the show that are my favorite, and I always say it's from wrapped to reach, which I don't think either, to coming out of the dark Like I feel it's one big, powerful ending and one cannot go without the other one.

Speaker 4:

You know, gloria isn't somebody that we know her personal life as well as, like, say, we had Tina Turner musical last month. Gloria is a little bit different. She's a little bit more private. What do you think surprises people in this show about Gloria Stephan? How do they get shocked at when they see it in On your Feet?

Speaker 2:

I think not a lot of people know about her accident, like not even I knew like what was going on with her like in her personal life, like everybody knows gonga, of course you know, but not much about, like not much aside from that. So I think it's good because in the first part of the show it's mainly the career challenges that they had to face, and I think in the second act it's more of the personal challenges they have to face, and so people can relate to it, no matter what you do.

Speaker 4:

This is a tour that kind of changes things from the Broadway version that we had in 2015. What can we expect? That makes this version a little different and adds a little bit more flavor.

Speaker 2:

Definitely Luis Elgado is the choreographer and director of the show and he was part of the original Broadway production. But I think what I like of this version, if you've seen it, like, if people have seen it, you definitely have to come and see it again because it's a very different take on the show. It's very like, almost spiritual, I say. Now, he's very into really representing our Latin roots, so even the choreography was built with our typical cultural moves, like from Argentina, colombia, venezuela. Like in the workshop they were doing like oh, in my country we do this, and he based his choreography off of that.

Speaker 4:

We're talking with Gabby Albo. She is coming to star in the Gloria Stefan musical on your feet for Tuts. I wanted to ask you a little about about you personally, gabby. How did you get started in music and theater?

Speaker 2:

I was a really shy child. Actually, I would never imagine myself doing this as a for life career. I was like 13 or something and one of my really good friends is cousin of Dan Paola, which is a huge star in like pop. She's becoming more like international now. So when she was just starting, her dad opened like a musical theater summer camp and my friend was like let's go. And I was like no, what am I going to do there? Like no, I have nothing to do there.

Speaker 2:

I don't know how she dragged me in and I remember like walking out of the classes like it was just so overwhelming I was like dying of shyness in there. So I was not having it. But then I noticed that it was starting to. I was starting to make me more outgoing in my normal life. So I decided to stay in the normal classes in the regular course after the summer camp and one day I was in the hairdresser and my mom is a hairdresser's friend and I was singing with my iPod and she comes to me and she's like Gabby, you're such a bad singer. I have a friend who's a voice teacher. Why don't you go and give it a try? In that change my life completely.

Speaker 4:

Wow, I also noticed that in the clips. If you're performing, I see you do like a lot of gymnastics, most acrobatic things, and you sing while you do it. How did that develop, I?

Speaker 2:

was a gymnast. That was really sporty when I was little Like I did gymnastics, cheerleading, tennis, running, swimming, everything but not arts. So that's why not to merge them both?

Speaker 4:

Does that help with your dancing a lot. I mean, I'm sure that this is a very active dancing show.

Speaker 2:

Definitely the stamina in the show that is required is a lot because you have to be exactly like actually the original Broadway Gloria like the role is not a dancing role, but Louise knows that I like singing and that I like dancing, so he let me do a lot of his choreos and like a little bit more moves in this version, which I love, but it's really demanding and on tour.

Speaker 4:

Where do you live now? Where's your home base?

Speaker 2:

I don't have a house now, so whenever I'm like off, I go to my parents' house in Mexico. But I would love to give it a try here in the US and see what comes out of this. This was very magical, not planned at all, and now I've been here like for almost two years in the States, so I would like to give it a try and see what comes after this. I'm like working on my visa just now, so that's exciting for me.

Speaker 4:

You're on this tour. How long does it last?

Speaker 2:

It's going to end up in April of this year.

Speaker 4:

Okay, so how far are you into it right now?

Speaker 2:

Is that? It's weird because we did the Spanish version, like in past March. It was like a short run and then we had a big break and it was like not linked. Some of the same people are part of the like the Louise is the same choreographer and stuff. But I had like to re-addition and stuff when I got this tour. It started in like around November of last year.

Speaker 4:

What's it like on tour? Is it hard? Is it hard to adapt to the life it's?

Speaker 2:

the hardest. It is the hardest. We went to a comedy show the other day and they were like okay, how's your regular life? And I was like there's no regular life in our like tour life, because every day a different place, by instance, like different weather, you can be in Boston yesterday and like today in Texas and like have two AM flight and then different theaters, different audiences, is just, yeah, really demanding.

Speaker 4:

From what I can tell, this is going to be a premiere for Houston. We missed the original tour when they brought the Broadway production on tour. Houston didn't get it, so I think this is the first time that we're going to see on your feet locally, and have you ever been to Houston here before?

Speaker 2:

Just for a little bit. So I'm excited to get to explore it more, definitely.

Speaker 4:

It's an interesting city. We've got a lot of Tex-Mex and things like that, so I definitely want to get your opinion on that. It's a little bit of a different take on Mexican food.

Speaker 2:

Exactly, I just one of my friends came to Mexico on my last break because I'm always like criticizing, like no, these are not the tacos Like those, why is the tortilla hard? Like that's not a thing. So I'm going to be, I'm going to be tough there.

Speaker 4:

We are talking with actress Gabby Albo. She is coming to Houston to star in the Gloria Estefan musical for Tuts on your feet and I wanted to ask you you've done some other shows, obviously, besides Gloria Estefan what has been your favorite role in a musical so far?

Speaker 2:

I love Daniela and it's a Mexican production. It's a show that has been running for like 12 years and when I first saw it I was really young and I was like, oh my God, I wish this show runs so much that I am the age, the like the accurate age to be able to be in it, and it happened like 10 years after, so that was super cool.

Speaker 4:

Since we're talking on queer voices, I was really looking into Gloria Estefan's connection into the LGBTQIA plus community. What do you think her connections are with us?

Speaker 2:

I mean her daughter is part of the community. I guess I've seen a couple of interviews about it and in the beginning I know it was like hard, but not because of her, like it wasn't mostly because of the like what would our people gonna say in the business? You know like just like taking care of her daughter, like not being attacked, because you know like we still live in these kinds of times that maybe you get attacked because of that. But I think she's really supportive nowadays.

Speaker 4:

Do you think that Gloria's life has like a lesson for people in the community?

Speaker 2:

I mean I guess in everybody's lives, like she has overcome so many challenges in so many different areas of her life, she's just like got up and made it happen.

Speaker 4:

What do you think is the central lesson of on your feet?

Speaker 2:

Look, the most logical or like the most obvious is like, oh, the song, like yes, like stick to your dreams and make them happen. As I say, and I guess for me the core, like the very like inner under, like core of the show, is like empathy, like how love can like shield, how love can make you go and overcome everything, and I know it can sound cheesy as well, but for me that's it. It's not that obvious for everybody because it's everybody. Like all the Konga, the dance is like they take over a lot of the show, but for me, like it moves me every time to see empathy, like the human union of the souls, very, very spiritual, take on my side, I guess.

Speaker 4:

Again, since this is Queer Voices, I wanted to ask you about your relationship to the LGBTQIA plus community.

Speaker 2:

I am part of the community, like I was part of the community since, like, I was like 19 that I knew of, so I love it. I actually, in Mexico, I had a big campaign. It was called Misangre Tambien Cura, which means, like my blood heals as well. That's an awful translation, but that's it, and so I, like I changed a lot of laws to make LGBT people able to like donate, because, though, the forms whenever you wanted to donate, like they were not updated, so they would reject and discriminate people just because of being part of the community, which is like, based on like stigma.

Speaker 4:

Was it hard kind of being a part of this community growing up in Mexico?

Speaker 2:

Not for me personally. I was really lucky, but I know, of course, in Mexico, and mostly in the northern part of it, it's definitely hard for so many people, so many people. So I've been lucky and I'm I'm grateful that I because I was lucky, I had the voice to be able to make something out of it and speak for so many people that can't.

Speaker 4:

Well, speaking of the voice, you did the Spanish version of it. La voz, is it it?

Speaker 2:

La voz yes.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, my Spanish is terrible, so forgive me, and I said you were a semi-finalist, right I?

Speaker 2:

did? I sang New York, new York, and everybody was surprised that I couldn't get to the finals. I mean, it's a reality show.

Speaker 4:

Who's team were you on?

Speaker 2:

I was first in Laura Pausini, which you might know, and then I was in Maluma like a more ragged on a singer. So it was part of. I was part of both.

Speaker 4:

Maluma was huge with Madonna song here in the US so we all kind of know him.

Speaker 2:

He's huge there as well.

Speaker 4:

Well, gabi Albo, you're gonna be huge here in Houston. You are gonna be the star of On your Feet. I'm looking so forward to seeing you play Gloria Estefan, bringing this to life, making it a little bit more spiritual and a little bit more connected and a little bit more dancey than we saw on Broadway. So, and it was such a pleasure to meet you, we are all looking forward to On your Feet and I just want to say Buena Suerta with everything going forward and have a great one.

Speaker 2:

I love it. Houston has us very capital letters, very excited, so I cannot wait to be there.

Speaker 1:

This is Queer Voices.

Speaker 5:

You're listening to Queer Voices. This is Deborah Moncrief Bell, and tonight I'm talking with Kendra Walker. Kendra is the president of Pride Houston 365, the original Pride celebration in Houston. She's updating you on what's coming up, what's in the works for Pride. There's some very important things happening pretty soon and we want to make sure people know about them. Kendra, just to start off, as a former Grand Marshal, I'm part of the committee that helps that and kind of shuffle through the nominations to come up with who will be the Pride Grand Marshal's for 2024. How soon will that be announced and when does the voting process begin?

Speaker 3:

It will be announced on February 7th at JR's. That is when we have the logo unveiling like your first time to actually see the logo that is for this year's celebration and at that time we will announce who the final candidates are for Grand Marshal, and then the voting will start on February 12th and it will last until.

Speaker 3:

March 31st, which is a Sunday. March 31st at 5 pm, will be your last opportunity to cast the vote, and how do people do that? They'll be able to go to our website, wwwpridehustin365.org. You'll see the Grand Marshal tab and then you'll just click on voting and all of the candidates for a male identifying, female identifying non-binary and I live will be listed, and then you pick your candidate of choice and then you cast your vote.

Speaker 5:

A lot of people may think, oh, I don't know these people, I don't know who to pick. Go and read the bio, read about them, ask other people, check out their Facebook page and see if this someone is someone that you think, just like you would vote for. President is like is this a person who I think represents our community and deserves this recognition for their body of work? And I have to say it was hard this year because we had so many good nominees.

Speaker 3:

I think people don't realize that the Grand Marshal's really do represent Houston on a big stage. Houston has Houston Pride, has a global platform. So there are a lot of interviews, there's a lot of press that comes with that, there's a lot of honorariums and a lot of things to carry your message. So if there's a Grand Marshal that you see that's involved in like the AIDS epidemic activism or in transgender rights and you feel like that aligns with your mission, you may want to vote for them, because they'll be carrying that message forward. All year our Grand Marshal served with us all year until we elect new ones, and then they get to lead the third largest parade in the US and the largest one in Texas.

Speaker 5:

I have such fond memories of my experience of having been a Grand Marshal and I felt very honored to have been selected. But you know now when talking to people and say oh and yeah, let's Grand Marshal of Houston Pride in 1990. 1997 they're like wow so you get a little, you know creed for it. Will there be anything happening before March other than that we?

Speaker 3:

will actually be participating in the Martin Luther King Parade that's been rescheduled. We'll actually be also participating in Out at the Rodeo that is March 19th. We'll be at Pride Night at the Rockets, which is March 25th. We also have volunteer trainings every second and fourth Saturday. In fact, today is fourth Saturday and I just got through doing the volunteer training. Well, we actually meet at City Hall. I mean, a lot of things have changed about Pride Heason, so we actually meet at City Hall. We walk the entire festival site, we walk the entire parade site, we go over every job so that when they do sign up for the shift and roll that they want, they are well equipped to actually do that role.

Speaker 5:

Wow, that's wonderful and very important. When I worked with coordinating volunteers, one of the most important things I felt was to give them a job description and be specific about what their tasks would be, and to make it as welcoming and as easy as possible. And I will say it again people that have heard me talk about it when you are working with other volunteers on a project, you will make wonderful friendships. You're working, but you're still gonna have so much fun, especially because it's our community and you know we like to have fun. Why would my qualifications be in order to be a volunteer for Pride?

Speaker 3:

We do all of the training. Now there are some specialized jobs. Like you know, if you're gonna work in our event medics head, you know you're probably a nurse or a doctor who's volunteering their time. But for other jobs, like whether it's backstage manager, whether you're on the parade route, you really just have to be able to, you know, withstand the heat. You know good help, you have to be able to walk. You know alone distances and you know be on your feet.

Speaker 3:

But other than that, it's a lot of fun and the good thing about these trainings is you're not just thrown into it like we've gone beyond giving you a job description. We're giving you hands-on, like we're showing you exactly where the VIP tent is, exactly what you'll be doing, and we're giving you a description of every job we have available. So now, when they go on and they read the job description, if they've gone through the training, they're like I know exactly what that is and this is something that I want to do and we recommend that everyone does to to training, that everyone do two trainings. However, we do realize not everyone is gonna make it to the training. That does not disqualify you from volunteering. However, this is a good way to meet the people that you're gonna be volunteering with that day and so far it's been a good turnout. We've had up to 20 volunteers each Saturday that we do it. We provide lunch for you, but you know, bring some comfortable shoes, because we do walk the entire festival site and parade route.

Speaker 5:

How many volunteers all together are needed.

Speaker 3:

You know we have done it with as little as 50 to 60 volunteers. However, everything was smooth when we get at least a hundred and twenty volunteers, and we would love up to 500 volunteers. We have a database of over 600 volunteers but, you know, after the pandemic everything got a little weird and slow, and so now you know about 200 of our volunteers are back and active, and so we're hoping to get the other 400 volunteers back and active.

Speaker 5:

And it's a wonderful way, if you're new to the community, to make connections and to network and to be part of the community. You mentioned that you have to be able to stand the heat, and why is that?

Speaker 3:

Because Houston has record heat. But we have done a lot of changes that people do not realize. You know, we have now a 600 person cooling complex so that you can escape the heat. We no longer sell water down at the festival site. We give everyone free water, so everyone gets free water. Because we feel that that's important, we have more than double the number of cooling buses to make this more comfortable. And someone gave us a very good, you know, suggestion. So now we have provided shaded benches for elderly because they like to come and like to see the people, but they don't necessarily want to walk around the festival site. So now this, a cooling misting bench section specifically for the elderly, so that can be in the middle of, you know, the beautiful pride celebration without, you know, risking their health and being an old person, I really appreciate that.

Speaker 5:

I mean I would be reluctant to go to pride otherwise. So that's really exciting to hear about. But the record heat comes when in the summer and when is this event going to take place.

Speaker 3:

In the summer. Saturday June 29th, the festival will start at 11 am and it goes all the way to 6, and then the parade starts at 7, and that's Saturday June 29th. It's an all-day you know event. However, I want to let the public know that we hear you and just as many people that feel that they should be moved to the fall. There's so many people that feel that it should stay in the summer. So the Pride Houston board got together and now you are getting a fall festival in October in Montrose, and so we're really excited about that in the fall, to have a summer and a fall festival. So the fall festival will actually take place October 5th in Montrose. We can't have a fall parade, sorry guys, but so the festival and and the summer festival and parade will be on Saturday June 29th and then just the fall festival will be on October 5th.

Speaker 5:

And it's living up to the name Pride Houston 365. We are talking with Kendra Walker, president of the board of Houston Pride, and she is sharing with us all the details of what's on tap. Right now. There's a pick-off that takes place out at Carback ruling. Tell me about that, because that's kind of a mini festival. The.

Speaker 3:

Carback festival is the first weekend in June and we've done it, we've done kickoff there for the last four years. It's going to be June 2nd this year and the good thing about it is there's still entertainment, there's still boost, and that's actually where we announced the winners of the Grand Marshal contest and you also get to find out who the honoraries are and they get their medals and things of that nature, and there's about 5,000 people who attend the Carback festival. Of course it's not the 60,000 down, you know, at that, and not the hundreds of thousands that attend the parade, but it's still a pretty good crowd and it's always a good time and it's so much for the kids and stuff to do. Our pool party is back, our fashion show is back, eden is back and we're also adding a boy plus party this year. We hear you, you know why is there a girl plus party, not a boy plus party? So we're adding that back.

Speaker 3:

We're also, you know, in the midst of planning more events. There's a stem event for the kids coming up this year because we believe, you know, in basically pouring back into education, you know, for the kids, and so we have so many things that we are planning. So June is really going to be packed. We even have a sober event. That's in May. That is the kickoff. Well, it's not the kickoff to Prime month, but it will be one of the events leading up into June, because the sober community is a part of our community. So we wanted to make sure that we actually had a night for them that was, you know, really, really fun, and that the whole family can come out to you and you know that's something that we're seeing more and more with pride at the parade.

Speaker 5:

At these events are people bringing their kids, so we want to be the pride without barriers.

Speaker 3:

So our goal long term is to move pride back to the biggest, you know, where there is no entry fee. The rising costs cost us the charging entry fee in 2022, and we have been doing record fundraising so we don't have to charge a fee this year. And so wherever there are barriers, whether they're environmental thus we have the summer and the fall festival whether you know, you're part of the sober community, so now let's have a sober night whether you're elderly, let's put benches. We want to remove all the barriers to you actually accessing pride. So we want to be the pride without barriers all year round, and that is really what we do.

Speaker 5:

We do a lot of grassroots activism to make sure that you can have pride without barriers what kind of accommodations are there for people who might use will chairs or have other mobility issues? Are the death part of hearing community?

Speaker 3:

one thing we do. We have an accessibility desk where you can find out all of the accessibility things that are available to you. But we do have interpreters, sign language interpreters for those who are, you know, our deaf or or hard of hearing, you know, or have hearing issues, so those are on all our stages. We also have offer language services, you know translators. We also offer earplugs.

Speaker 5:

I really appreciate the thoughts that has gone into all of this, because we do want to make it something. Tell me, you have a slogan for this year. What? What is that?

Speaker 3:

you won't break our pride and that just goes to the resilience of this organization from the pandemic, just from you know fundraising being difficult in some years and us just bringing the organization back and actually bringing you know pride back without barriers and actually coming back to record numbers. And now the board is full again. We have fully re-staffed the board to 12. We've actually our production team is back, so you won't break our pride. So, regardless of what it is, we felt that this was a a good thing, like you won't break our pride. This organization has been resilient for 46 years and it has listed the test of time and we want to make sure that that legacy continues. So it really is a celebration of resilience and a celebration of a 46-year-old legacy are there monthly meetings?

Speaker 5:

the board meetings are they open to the public? Is that something you invite people to come and take part in, or is there a separate meeting for the community board meetings?

Speaker 3:

are every first Saturday of the month. We have them listed on Facebook. We also list them in our newsletter. You can attend by zoom or in or in person, and we invite everyone to attend. Well, not everyone, but if you need to address the board or you have an issue that you want to address the board with, we invite you to attend. We receive a lot of emails about things and so we have sent them. You know we will send out invitations for people to attend the board meeting where you can't address the whole board and sadly they won't they don't usually follow up or actually attend the meeting so where you can actually get the concern addressed, where do those meetings take place?

Speaker 3:

Right now we meet at Kiki's, but we like for people to at least email us and let us know that coming. We also have the meetings by Zoom so we can send you a Zoom link to attend the meeting. We don't put the Zoom link on the public, you know, because there is a thing called Zoombombing, but all you have to do is email and we give it to you. And it's the same Zoom link every first Saturday, so if you've come to one you still have the link for one, even if you missed your slot. You know you can go to every where you can go every first Saturday at noon. And they're also listed on Facebook and they're also listed in the newsletter. So it has been open for a while. We've never had closed board meetings. That has never been a thing with Pride Houston. You have always had the opportunity to come and address the board, except in June. June, there is no board meeting. We are not meeting in June at all. No, in July or August.

Speaker 5:

All your meetings are on the move. At that point, how does one email the board and say I would like the Zoom link for the meeting?

Speaker 3:

You can either email the board at BOD at prideheestonorg or you can email info at prideheestonorg and we also, if we know you're coming, we send you reminders. I have sent reminders to a couple and, for whatever reason you know, they still don't show. But hopefully I'm hoping that as more people find out about it and, you know, give us suggestions and that's really the way to address the board. I know in the age of social media we think by making a comment or post that's really not the proper way. It's going to get lost in the shuffle and they have to remember Pride Houston. The board is also volunteers. They're not scrolling social media all day and they may not be your friend. So you really do need to email the board or actually attend the meetings if you really want your suggestions to be heard and taken seriously.

Speaker 5:

I want to remind folks that in fact, yes, the people that put this together are volunteers. Be nice to them. They should say I'm just a volunteer, because volunteers really make this whole thing work. And then you can also volunteer to help the board with this event on, and the more the merrier, the more people involved, the more visibility we have as a community, and visibility is very important. It's a fabulous experience. I have done everything, from watch the parade, be in the parade, walking, being a co-chair, a pride grand marshal, to watching it on television. So you can experience Pride in many different ways, but it's the best way to connect as a community. And when I see all the organizations and see all the people and all the smiling faces and a lot of times it's like oh yeah, I remember you from last year. You meet people and then you see them around and that's how community grows. Well, kendra, is there anything else that you want to share before we sign off?

Speaker 3:

Well, definitely come to the festival and the parade Saturday June 29th. We are having a festival and parade this summer, saturday June 29th. Like I said, the festival will start at 11, the parade will start at 7. And for those who don't catch the summer festival and parade, october 5th in the fall we will have a fall festival in Montrose. And just sign up to volunteer, or make sure you sign up for our email list on the website so that you can keep up with us. You know, keep up with our social media pride Houston TX on Instagram and pride Houston on Facebook.

Speaker 1:

This is Queer Voices.

Speaker 5:

This is Deborah Montcreeff Bell, and today I'm talking to the QJUZ. What exactly is the QJUZ? Well, we're going to find out. So, kendall, I learned about it through you, I believe. So why don't you tell me what the group is?

Speaker 7:

Absolutely. Qjuz is a celebratory space for queer Jews in Houston in our 20s and 30s and it is a program of Houston Hello.

Speaker 5:

We're talking to Kendall Toe Armina, say your last name, kendall.

Speaker 7:

Yes, ma'am, this is Kendall.

Speaker 5:

Toe Armina and Annabella Pincus, annabella Pincusi and Kenny Weiss, and Kenny is a Rabbi and I believe it was actually you that kind of sparked the creation of this group.

Speaker 8:

That's correct. We had a medical student a few years ago who expressed to one of our professionals that there was nothing for her in the Houston Jewish community and I had done a considerable amount of work with the queer community, mainly at Rice University but also at the University of Houston, and decided that we needed to do something for people in their 20s and 30s.

Speaker 5:

Just to clarify. You are not queer.

Speaker 8:

That's correct.

Speaker 5:

Are you the head of the Hello Center?

Speaker 8:

Yes, I'm the executive director for Houston. Hello, we primarily do programming and provide community for Jewish college students throughout Southeast Texas, but actually half of what we do is for people who have graduated from college already.

Speaker 7:

Yeah, one day I was going about my day in early November in 2021 and I opened my email and I got this wonderful email from Kenny, and he, as you mentioned, is the executive director of Houston Hello. I sat on the board and he had sent an email to me and a few other folks and said that there was an opportunity and he wanted us to start this program for queer Jewish participants. Houston Hello has always been a very welcoming space for everyone, including queer people and LGBTQ plus people of all kinds, and then he wanted to make it even more so, and I was just so impressed that Kenny wanted to do more in this space and to review all of our you know the way that Houston Hall works and the way that we operate and become even more LGBTQ welcoming and friendly and have this specific program. And so we applied for this grant and Kenny really led that, along with the other wonderful staff members at the time, and we got the first grant and, if I'm not mistaken, we've gotten a few more and so we've been able to launch this wonderful program and we started having programs before we even had a dedicated program director for it, and then we went from there, and so I'm really proud of the work that the staff Kenny and Annabella and others have done to make this happen and make it such a wonderful place.

Speaker 7:

I, annabella, and some of the other staff members through a Hanukkah party last fall a few months ago, and I got to get in December just in December and it was just amazing to see folks from all over. There was even a man there I met who was a queer Jewish person living in Clear Lake, I believe, and he was there with his son and it was just so wonderful to meet these folks from all over Houston that I wouldn't have met before, and to build this community. So I was really excited when you invited us to come on so that we could share this with other folks who may be queer or end Jewish and maybe they don't. You know, we have a lot of different Jewish identities. Not everyone has been very active in the Jewish community and so it's a great. It's been a great way to bring people in and make those connections and build, build community.

Speaker 5:

Okay, annabella, you were saying that you do different programs, so it could be just having a coffee, it could be doing yoga. What are some of the other examples of programs that you've held?

Speaker 9:

Well, we're planning on having a makeup workshop soon and also a very festive poor-in-party, and we're also inviting allies to join. So it's not just a party for Jews, it's for everyone who are allies, who support us as the LGBTQ community and, of course, as Jewish. You're welcome.

Speaker 5:

When you say makeup party, do you mean like learning how to put on makeup?

Speaker 9:

Makeup workshop. Yeah Well, we have a holiday coming up in the next month. It's called poor-in. It's kind of like Halloween when we wear costumes and pretend that the evil people cannot distinguish between us, the Jews, to non-Jews. So, yeah, so we're going to have a makeup workshop and learn how to wear drag costumes and drag makeup, hopefully.

Speaker 5:

Henning, what are your goals for this group?

Speaker 8:

I think the goal for me is just to get people connected. I very much enjoy when people come together. I think also, though, there are segments of the Jewish community who are not either welcoming and certainly don't provide a place of belonging for queer folks. So that was something that I knew we could do through Hillel, and so that was also a big motivation, and really what was going on is that, when that graduate student mentioned to me that there was nothing for them in the Houston Jewish community, I realized that there was a tremendous void, and I knew that we could fill that.

Speaker 5:

Either Kendall or Annabella. What are some of the examples of programs that you've had?

Speaker 7:

One of the early events that really comes to mind for me is actually relevant to this time of year. It's a holiday called Tuf Bishavat, which is when we celebrate the trees, and actually, annabella, if you could talk a little bit to remind us.

Speaker 9:

Well, we celebrate the birth of the trees. In Israel, let's say we would plant trees to build the country and to make it beautiful and to celebrate growth. To celebrate for me it's also very spiritual. You plant your roots, you're a part of the mother nature and you say thank you for the work, just like anything else that you. You plant the seed and it comes and it grows and it gives you fruit. You say thank you for that. So, yeah, so that's basically the holiday.

Speaker 7:

Yes, thank you so much. We had a wonderful event to celebrate Tupi Shavat and, as Ana Vela said, the seeds that you plant. That's an important part of the holiday. One of the things, one of the things that we do more commonly in the US in my experiences, is have a Seder for Tupi Shavat. Seder means order, so it's a, it's a meal with some ordered components to it, and for Tupi Shavat we eat a lot of dried fruits and a lot of fruits and and foods with seeds and then like six and pomegranates, and so we had this, this lovely Tupi Shavat Seder, and the staff you know prepared all the food and made like rainbow colored challah bread from scratch and it was just, it was a lovely event, and another participant and I call it the Seder, and so that that's one example from kind of more of the early days, and Ana Vela has led a lot of wonderful programming more recently.

Speaker 5:

Ana Vela, you are from Israel. What prompt you to take on this job here in the United States?

Speaker 9:

Hello, I just well, you know, everything happens for a reason, I wanted to say. I randomly saw an ad on Facebook, but nothing is random, everything is from above. So so there was looking for a program director for QJU's Hillel and I thought, oh, this is great, I'm gonna have connection to the Jewish world, which is very important when you are away from your, from my homeland, which is the Jewish country of Israel, and that meant the world to me to to meet more people from my religion and from my community, and what was fascinating to me is that or not fascinating. More made me relate to the job description is that I was married to a woman before and I would like to to think that I kind of get the idea of how it is to be, well, someone who who needs to belong somewhere and to have their community.

Speaker 5:

So I take it, you identify as bisexual.

Speaker 9:

I don't identify with anything. I identify with myself. I am. I am just myself.

Speaker 5:

I just know that it was your lovely boyfriend that cooked that turkey at Thanksgiving he's my fiance now congratulations.

Speaker 5:

Yes, lovely, I mean any. Any man that can cook that well, I think is a real winner. The planting of trees, I mean. To me it sounds very much like the feminist spirituality experiences that I've had, where you honor nature and the thing about planting a seed is that it's such a sign of hope and optimism because you plant a tree but you may never live long enough to sit under its shade that's how Jews are we just we believe, we have hope what's coming up for the key Jews?

Speaker 9:

we tried to meet once a month for brunch I'm thinking about some Sabbath's dinner, one of the Friday evenings, karaoke. We have a lot of things going on. Usually we meet either one-on-one in person or in the group and the rest of the community tells me how they feel and what they would like to have and I try to let everybody have, you know, feel, feel at home, so try to get to attend to everybody's wishes and once so they'll feel comfortable, you know, coming and being a part of Kenny, you, being a rabbi and all, I'm gonna refer to you on this explain exactly what a satyr is.

Speaker 8:

I've always known it as a Passover event so the most common satyr that people know of is, in fact, a Passover satyr, that holidays coming up in the middle of April, and satyr in Hebrew the word comes from the word that means order, and so we call these dinners, whether it's a two-bishop at satyr or a Passover satyr.

Speaker 8:

We call it a satyr because it has a very specific order to it, and I think what's fascinating about it also is that in Judaism, you use a book it's called a Haggadah to lead you through the satyr, but there are just thousands and thousands of versions of the Haggadah, and many of them have certain outlooks or a certain topic that they might focus on. So, for example, it might be about nature, or it might be about Zionism, perhaps, or it might be about, you know, jewish philosophy. One of the first actually the first program that we did for the queer community was at Rice University, and it was a queer satyr that I think we did in 2015 or 2016. That's one of the neat things about these kinds of Jewish holidays to be shot and Passover is that they really lend themselves to a specific community, and so when Q Jews comes together for a queer satyr, while it has all of the elements of a Passover satyr that you would see in any Jewish home.

Speaker 5:

It also has some very different readings and and other conversations that are very particular to the group that is coming together have you found since the group started that there are young Jews who maybe had been somewhat alienated from the community have come in and who have kind of reconnected to their faith into the community?

Speaker 8:

yes, without a doubt, and I think there's a couple reasons for that. One reason is that Judaism is perceived correctly so throughout history as a religion that is not particularly welcoming to the queer community, and so a lot of people simply stay away for that reason. I think that another reason that some people stay away, though is my sense is that being queer is a bit of a community in its in and of itself and is Judaism and connecting to Judaism, whether it's religiously or culturally. I think a lot of queer Jews tend to find their place of belonging with the queer community, and they're not necessarily looking for the Jewish community, but once we started this type of programming, really, people have been showing up all over the place. We've seen that both in the Houston Jewish community, but also very, very much on college campuses this is Deborah Montcree's Bell.

Speaker 5:

You're listening to Queer Voices and we're talking with the good folks over at QJews, a celebratory organization for people in their 20s and 30s who are Jewish. Are you maybe an ally and be welcome to any number of their events and chances to connect and maybe even learn about Judaism? If you have not been part of that community, let's give contact information. If someone is interested in the QJews, qjuz how do they connect with you?

Speaker 9:

You can look for QJUZ on Instagram and on Facebook and send me a message there to Annabella.

Speaker 5:

And there is a website. You can find out a whole lot more about what has taken place and the upcoming events by going to theQJUZorg. So it's that simple. Well, thank you so much for being with us today on Queer Voices.

Speaker 6:

Hi, I'm Vladimir Putin, and this is Acolytes. Apparently, the pettiest of violations can bring convictions for extremism. A man in the southern region of Volgograd posted a photograph of a rainbow flag online. He pleaded guilty last week to displaying the symbols of an extremist organization. He admitted guilt, apologized for acting out of what he called stupidity and was fined 1000 rubles, about 11 US dollars.

Speaker 6:

The queer activist group EJZ tells the story of a woman who was in a café in Nizhny Novgorod, east of Moscow. A man demanded she remove her frog-shaped earrings that included a rainbow. He filmed the encounter, posted it online. The woman was required to report to the police station and was sentenced to five days in jail. A photographer is also being tried in Saratov in southwestern Russia for posting images of rainbow flags on Instagram. This according to the independent Russian news outlet Media Zona. Russia's rolling crackdown began with the 2013 enactment of a law banning the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations to minors. In 2022, it was expanded to apply to Russians of all ages. Last July, lawmakers also banned medical or legal changes of gender. The country's Supreme Court outlawed any public expressions in support of Putin's imaginary international LGBTQ movement in November. Any expressions of positive support for LGBTQ people are now essentially against the law in Russia.

Speaker 10:

Alberta Premier, danielle Smith, used a 7-minute Twitter X video to trumpet the persecution of transgender youth this week. In it, she explained the rationales for banning access to hormone therapies and puberty blockers for Albertan transgender people under the age of 16. She announced a push to also ban gender-affirming surgeries for minors, which are rarely recommended anyway. An under-16 transgender student will need written parental consent to change their name or pronouns if they differ from the legal name in the school records. The parents or legal guardians of students 16 and over must be notified of a child's requested name or pronoun change.

Speaker 10:

Students will also be able to keep their children out of any classroom discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity. The province's Education Ministry will have to formally approve any third-party materials dealing with sexuality or gender Based on the notion that trans girls and women have an unfair advantage because they are once biologically male. The new guidelines block them from participating in school sports. The new policies were quickly denounced by Women in Sports Canada and by the Alberta Teachers Association. The nation's leading queer advocacy group, egal, said in a press statement the government of Alberta is playing politics with some of the most vulnerable members of our society trans and gender diverse youth, attacking them for cheap political points. We will not stand for it.

Speaker 10:

Egal and the Canadian Civil Liberties Union will be filing a legal challenge to the new policies. Alberta joins other politically conservative Canadian provinces. Policies requiring transgender students to be outed to their parents or legal guardians were introduced last year in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick. The governments of Ontario and Quebec announced plans to follow suit, but neither province has acted since then. They may be dissuaded by the fact that Saskatchewan's effort has been blotched by a judge who thinks it will likely be declared unconstitutional.

Speaker 6:

Idaho's ban on gender-affirming healthcare for transgender minors has been blocked again. A three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to reverse a lower court's temporary injunction. The measure even targets medical professionals who offer gender-affirming pediatric care for criminal prosecution and the potential revocation of their licenses to practice. Federal District Court Judge B Lynn Winnell issued the injunction blocking enforcement of the draconian measure in late December, just days before it was set to take effect on January 1. The appeals court's January 30 ruling maintained the injunction, while a challenge to the law's constitutionality is being litigated in Winnell's court. The American Civil Liberties Union represents two families and their transgender children. Aclu of Idaho legal director Paul Carlos Southwick applauded the appeals court decision. As he said in a press statement, transgender youth and their families throughout Idaho will continue to have access to the healthcare they need and deserve.

Speaker 10:

Trans people in Utah can now use bathrooms and locker rooms based only on their birth certificate gender. Republican governor Spencer Cox signed the bill to restrict sex-segregated public facilities the day after Republican-controlled state legislature approved it on January 26. The wide-ranging measure defines gender based solely on reproductive organs. Anyone who uses changing rooms that don't match their birth certificate gender could face criminal penalties. It covers government-owned and run buildings including public schools, libraries, recreational centers, airports and courthouses. Pediatric gender-affirming healthcare is already against the law in Utah. Courts have blocked another measure that prevents trans girls and women in the state from competing in school sports.

Speaker 6:

Florida residents can no longer say trans on their driver's licenses. By order of the state highway safety and motor vehicles department, the edict reverses a policy that allowed a person to change their gender marker after they had fully transitioned. Now making that change will be a third degree fake ID felony punishable by up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison. Soon, trans people who already have corrected driver's licenses could be found in violation. As per a letter to state agencies from the department's deputy executive director, robert Kynock, the term gender does not refer to a person's internal sense of his or her gender role or identification, but has historically and commonly been understood as a synonym for sex, which is determined by innate and immutable biological and genetic characteristics. That's News Wrap, global queer news with attitude for the week ending February 3rd 2024. Follow the news in your area and around the world. An informed community is a strong community.

Speaker 10:

News Wrap is written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, produced by Brian DeChazer and brought to you by you.

Speaker 6:

Thank you. Help keep us in ears around the world at thiswayoutorg, where you can also read the text of this newscast and much more. For this Way Out, I'm John Dyer. The Fifth Stay Healthy and I'm Katelyn Hartman.

Speaker 10:

Stay Safe.

Speaker 1:

This has been Queer Voices, which is now a home produced podcast and available from several podcasting sources. Check our webpage QueerVoicesorg for more information. Queer Voices executive producer is Brian Levinca. Andrew Edmanson and Deborah Moncrief Bell are frequent contributors. The News Wrap segment is part of another podcast called this Way Out, which is produced in Los Angeles.

Speaker 11:

Some of the material in this program has been edited to improve clarity and runtime. This program does not endorse any political views or animal species. These views, opinions and endorsements are those of the participants and the organizations they represent. In case of death, please discontinue use and discard remaining products.

Speaker 1:

For Queer Voices. I'm Glenn Holt.

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