Queer Voices

May 22nd 2024 Queer Voices

May 22, 2024 Queer Voices
May 22nd 2024 Queer Voices
Queer Voices
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Queer Voices
May 22nd 2024 Queer Voices
May 22, 2024
Queer Voices

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We speak with Houston Pride 365 honorary grand marshal, Sara Fernandez.  We discuss her activism and her work in creating the banner project.   Houston lesbian activist Sara Fernandez was visiting museums in New York City in the spring of 2013 when she first became inspired to bring her hometown’s LGBTQ history to life.

While the exhibits she visited there were not highlighting the LGBTQ community, LGBTQ history was included in both. One exhibit documented queer life on the Lower East Side in 1993. The other featured a permanent display of 20th-century activists that included suffragettes, civil-rights icons, and gay-liberation pioneers.

Then we discuss The Luck of the Draw, a fundraiser for DiverseWorks. Luck of the Draw, DiverseWorks’ famed fundraising event, returns to the MATCH. This year, the theme is Ecosystem – reflecting DiverseWorks’ commitment to our forthcoming Climate Action Plan and the exhibition and performance series, River on Fire, opening this fall. Luck of the Draw attendees provide crucial sustenance to DiverseWorks and Houston’s creative ecosystem. More than 200 works on paper, each one 7 x 9 inches, will be available for purchase at this year’s event. Participating artists include Trenton Doyle Hancock, Preetika Rajgariah, Kaneem Smith, James Surls, and Lillian Warren, to name just a few. 

Finally, we speak with Ron Jones regarding his play “Appropriate”. The estranged members of the Lafayette clan have returned to their crumbling Arkansas plantation home to settle the estate of their recently deceased patriarch. As they sort through a lifetime of their father's junk and hoarded mementos, a disturbing and horrifying discovery surfaces, confronting the family with more than what to do with a house full of stuff. Can a lifetime of clutter disguise the true nature of what lies beneath?  Ron Jones returns to the helm for his fourth production with Dirt Dogs Theatre Co. He previously directed White Guy on the Bus, as well as Clybourne Park and August: Osage County, for both of which he was a finalist for best director in the Houston Theater Awards. With more than 45 years in the industry, Jones has directed nearly 150 productions and acted in well over 100. He spent the bulk of his career teaching theatre for HISD and Lone Star College before retiring. Ron currently serves as Producing Artistic Director for On the Verge Theatre and is the former Artistic Director of New Heights Theatre and Celebration Theatre.

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.

We speak with Houston Pride 365 honorary grand marshal, Sara Fernandez.  We discuss her activism and her work in creating the banner project.   Houston lesbian activist Sara Fernandez was visiting museums in New York City in the spring of 2013 when she first became inspired to bring her hometown’s LGBTQ history to life.

While the exhibits she visited there were not highlighting the LGBTQ community, LGBTQ history was included in both. One exhibit documented queer life on the Lower East Side in 1993. The other featured a permanent display of 20th-century activists that included suffragettes, civil-rights icons, and gay-liberation pioneers.

Then we discuss The Luck of the Draw, a fundraiser for DiverseWorks. Luck of the Draw, DiverseWorks’ famed fundraising event, returns to the MATCH. This year, the theme is Ecosystem – reflecting DiverseWorks’ commitment to our forthcoming Climate Action Plan and the exhibition and performance series, River on Fire, opening this fall. Luck of the Draw attendees provide crucial sustenance to DiverseWorks and Houston’s creative ecosystem. More than 200 works on paper, each one 7 x 9 inches, will be available for purchase at this year’s event. Participating artists include Trenton Doyle Hancock, Preetika Rajgariah, Kaneem Smith, James Surls, and Lillian Warren, to name just a few. 

Finally, we speak with Ron Jones regarding his play “Appropriate”. The estranged members of the Lafayette clan have returned to their crumbling Arkansas plantation home to settle the estate of their recently deceased patriarch. As they sort through a lifetime of their father's junk and hoarded mementos, a disturbing and horrifying discovery surfaces, confronting the family with more than what to do with a house full of stuff. Can a lifetime of clutter disguise the true nature of what lies beneath?  Ron Jones returns to the helm for his fourth production with Dirt Dogs Theatre Co. He previously directed White Guy on the Bus, as well as Clybourne Park and August: Osage County, for both of which he was a finalist for best director in the Houston Theater Awards. With more than 45 years in the industry, Jones has directed nearly 150 productions and acted in well over 100. He spent the bulk of his career teaching theatre for HISD and Lone Star College before retiring. Ron currently serves as Producing Artistic Director for On the Verge Theatre and is the former Artistic Director of New Heights Theatre and Celebration Theatre.

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, debra Moncrief-Bell has a conversation with Sarah Fernandez, who has been named as 2024 Honorary Grand Marshal by Pride Houston 365. Honorary Grand Marshal by Pride Houston 365.

Speaker 2:

It's important that we be comfortable with ourselves, that we be confident, and Pride is that culmination of growing to accept yourself and to be yourself.

Speaker 1:

Brett Cullum reports on the calendar for Pride Month and then talks with Diverse Works about their fundraiser, called Luck of the Draw.

Speaker 3:

We invite hundreds of artists to participate and create and donate small works of art, and the artists we work with are multidisciplinary, so they're from across genres, and each of those works of art is sold through a drawing, and so, at the event when your number's drawn, you rush and choose the artwork of your choice.

Speaker 1:

Then Brett talks with Ron Jones about the play Appropriate.

Speaker 4:

Appropriate is inadvertently a play about race, and what I mean about that is it never really addresses the issue of race. Addresses the issue of race. Brandon Jacobs Jenkins is a black playwright but there are no people of color in the play. It's an entirely Caucasian cast.

Speaker 1:

And we have news.

Speaker 5:

wrap from this way out Queer Voices starts now Sarah Fernandez has been named as a 2024 Honorary Grand Marshal for Pride Houston 365. Most people know Sarah through the Banner Project, but her activism goes far beyond that. This is Debra Moncrief-Bell, and today I'm doing a little switcheroo because Sarah has interviewed me, so now I get to interview her. Welcome to Queer Voices, sarah.

Speaker 2:

Thank you, debra, just don't get even A 2021.

Speaker 5:

Outsmart article described you as a lesbian activist. Is that how you identify?

Speaker 2:

I don't really think of it. I think that I lead my life, I do what I do and I don't go much with titles.

Speaker 5:

I was identified as a lesbian in Outsmart and after I had clearly told the interviewer that I identified as bisexual. So I just want to make sure that people get to say who they are and pronouns.

Speaker 2:

Well, okay, so I do say I'm a lesbian. You know I'll agree with that and I do. She, her, and people can say they.

Speaker 5:

How did you get started in activism?

Speaker 2:

The ironic thing is that I started because I went to a PFLAG meeting and as I watched the parents, it was very obvious that they were very, very effective, that they had a voice that people would listen to, and I really admired that.

Speaker 2:

But then I also realized that the parents didn't have all the skills that they needed to do what they did. A lot of gay and lesbian people were helping them and I decided to help, and then I decided they had very good speakers. They just had a lot of good things going on. I decided that their message needed to come out to the world a little more, because they would have meetings and they'd have these great conversations, but then it stayed in that meeting and I thought it should go beyond that. So my initial thing was to amplify them and then, as I met more LGBTQ people, I started taking, getting some stories and putting those out, and so the work that I do, it's because I admire the activists that are out there, just the plain people that are out there, the stories that people tell, and I think it's important that those stories be known and I think it's important that those stories be known.

Speaker 5:

In 2013, you made a trip to New York City and visited some museums there, and it inspired something in you. Can you share with me what transpired and what eventually became the Banner Project?

Speaker 2:

I had a good friend, although I knew him for maybe just three years Ed Barnes, and he was a wonderful storyteller and I always kept telling him I needed to get his story. But he died and we didn't capture the story. In fact, we talked about it the day before he died. We talked extensively about lots of stories.

Speaker 2:

When I went to New York, I saw these exhibits and they talked about gay activism, lgbt activism, and it was in a unusual museum setting. There was no big whoa these people are gay or you know. It was just like one of the many people who were activists and when I saw that, I thought I couldn't think of anything in Houston that had LGBTQ, plus people in a regular exhibit and plus the fact of wanting to remember people who had left us and people who had been activists I really was very passionate about. We need something visual in Houston that shows us the people who have gone before us. Anyway, I got back and I did start telling people in ARCH about it and it just so happened that the creating change was coming up and because that gave a golden opportunity, then that's what I started working toward to getting it up there.

Speaker 5:

It's kind of funny because I, too, had attended an ARCH meeting. That's Houston ARCH, which is the Houston Area Rainbow Collective, and it's a group of historians and other people that are interested in documenting the history of our movement and the people involved in it. And it started with 27 panels that were first displayed at the Creating Change Conference in Houston in 2014. And now it's expanded to how many panels?

Speaker 2:

We have 50 panels plus an introductory and an acknowledgement panel and they were not enough and every day I think about people who could be added to that. So that project is closed at the number that it is, because it's too much to handle weight-wise and volume. But we are planning I don't know what, because it's a group, it's sort of the same people who helped do it the first time are all back on board because we had such a good time. There is so much history and I don't think we can ever cover it all.

Speaker 5:

I understand that it resides in a kind of interesting place. You put us in the closet, sarah, you roll the panels up in acid-free paper to preserve them, and then they're brought out for the displays, just as they did with the names AIDS, memorial Quilt. It got so big that they thought we're not going to be able to do this anymore. In addition to the Banner Project, you also are a video. I can't say it, right, videographer? Tell me about what that is, because you interviewed me and I'm like I don't even really know what happens now.

Speaker 2:

Come to realize that we didn't finish that interview because I don't believe you talked about the Houston Women's Group and you didn't talk that much about your work on radio. So have some pending topics. That started because, once again with the PFLAG parents, they were having programs and I started recording the programs and I have to say that some of the worst video that you've ever seen, because I knew nothing but I just thought I was going to do it. So I did the programs. Then I started asking the parents for their stories how they found out about their children, how they felt what they did, did they accept them? How did that go? And then about their activism. And then I started asking people in the community that I met or that I saw, because they came to the FLAC meeting and started getting their stories. So it just, I love stories, I have always loved stories. So, and pictures. So you know, this is what really makes me happy.

Speaker 5:

In addition to PFLAG, what other things have you been involved with?

Speaker 2:

I have been involved with an organization called Association for Family and Community Integrity and that was formed sort of out of PFLAG. We had a member who wanted to have a rehab healing place for LGBTQ plus kids who become homeless. So he had this whole architectural plan. He had this whole plan and he asked me to join and the first year I was there, whatever the funding source that he had his eye on went away. And then we sort of struggled, and then we struggled with the laws that wouldn't let you keep. He was talking about kids under the age of 18. So the laws, you know, didn't really allow it. The funding was gone, but we kept sort of going in an endless circle of what shall we do and how will we do it? And we Tony Carroll joined the board and Bruce Smith and Tony said just do something.

Speaker 2:

So we did, we started a website just to do education and we offered leisure learning classes back when leisure learning existed, and so we just did this education thing and we have a couple of websites. We have understandinggayorg and we have que significageorg. Back when we started there wasn't a whole lot out. Now you have it Gets Better. You have the HRC website. Those, just those three. And then there's a group called Strong Family Alliance. They have excellent websites and information and they have money, so you know they do it better websites and information and they have money, so you know they do it better.

Speaker 5:

The Grand Marshal, especially the Honorary Grand Marshal, are people that have achieved a level in the community that has furthered the goal of equality for all and for the water community in Houston and in the world, and I really want to congratulate you on being recognized this way. What does it mean to you to receive this recognition?

Speaker 2:

Well, it was sort of a shock. It was like I was not expected at all and I thought about declining of all things. But then I thought, well, I can use this to ask people to remember that they're important and that their stories are important, and not to throw their things away. Or, if they have things that belong to somebody else, if they have magazines, brochures, flyers, photographs, diaries, journals of any sort, please don't throw them away. There are lots of archives here. They're listed on the ARCH website, which let me. It's houstonarchpbworkscom, but they just Google Houston ARCH, I'm sure they can find it.

Speaker 2:

But that is really important that people, a lot of people. I've talked to people and I said do you have photographs from this event? Oh, you know, just yesterday we were looking at that and thought nobody's ever going to want them and they threw them away. Or somebody dies and the family comes in and says nobody's going to want this. You know what should we do? Throw it away. So I would encourage people to not throw things away and to at least ask someone does this have value? Will it be good for the archive?

Speaker 5:

The theme this year for Pride is you won't break our pride. Does that have any special meaning to you?

Speaker 2:

A couple of years ago I went to a conference. Part of this education thing was going to counselor conferences. I've gone to this conference like six years already, and last year they came and they asked me to take a banner down that said what if my child is gay? And it's like, well, we can't have that here. It was a state conference. And she apologized to me but I took it down. And then the next day she came I'm sorry, you have to take the other banner down. The other banner said why would she be gay? And so I took it down. But she let me stay, though they had me in a corner in the back and I have not applied.

Speaker 2:

I'm thinking I will ask if I can attend that conference again. That was a big problem for me, trying to gauge. They're saying you can't say gay, I mean that's just, and so trying to figure out how to get around that. But no, that doesn't break my pride. I still want to do it and I still want to get out there. We just have to sort of stand up and keep going.

Speaker 5:

Why do you think pride is important?

Speaker 2:

It's important that we be comfortable with ourselves, that we be confident, and pride is that culmination of growing to accept yourself and to be yourself.

Speaker 5:

I'm so glad that you have this platform of being an Honorary Grand Marshal to highlight that work and all the other good work you've done in the community. So thank you so much for being with us today on Queer Voices.

Speaker 2:

Thank you, I really enjoyed talking about history.

Speaker 1:

Still to come. On Queer Voices Brett Cullum's calendar of events for Pride Month, followed by his interview with Jennifer Gardner and artist Kuma of Diverse Works. Then Brett talks with Ron Jones about a play called Appropriate and News Wrap from this Way Out.

Speaker 6:

I'm Brett Cullum and we are looking at June's festivities for Pride, where we have not one but two Pride festivals to look at. First up, houston's New Faces of Pride Festival and Parade will start June 22nd. The festival starts at 12 pm and runs until 6 pm. Their parade starts at 7.30 and lasts until 10 pm. You can expect performances by artists, festival vendors, indoor and outdoor performances. The New Faces of Pride will have their official after party called Planet Pink. This is in collaboration with DMV RMX and Post Houston. It will be at Post Houston building and it is going to be a theme of Planet Pink. That is the Houston's new faces of Pride official after party.

Speaker 6:

Pride Houston 365 is going to have their LGBTQIA plus Pride Celebration Festival and Parade the very next weekend, on June 29th. This is going to be in front of City Hall with the celebration starting at 11 am and that is when the festival will start at noon and goes until 6, and the parade pre-show will be 6 until 7, 15 and then the official parade starts around 7 30 and lasts until 10. The after party for the Pride Houston 365 organization will be held at the Rise Rooftop Venue in Midtown Houston. It will be called the Glitter Ball Also all around the neighborhood in Montrose. If you don't feel like going out to the parades, on the 28th through the 30th there will be several street fairs sponsored by local bars such as the Eagle and the Ripcord.

Speaker 6:

If you're looking for some theater for this Pride season, don't forget, newsies is opening at Tuts this week and on Thursday, may 30th they will have their Out at Tuts performance. That is at the Hobby Center and the after party is free for everybody if you attend that Out at Tut's event. The next act out at the alley will be Dial M for Murder, which will happen on Thursday June 13th. And, don't forget, opening this weekend at the Match in Midtown, appropriate, directed by Ron Jones and produced by Dirt Dogs. It opens May 24th and runs through June 8th. It's a show about a family falling apart in the aftermath of the death of their father in Arkansas. The show is currently running on Broadway, so this is a rare chance to see something similar in Houston. I'm Brett Cullum.

Speaker 6:

The night is long and the path is dark.

Speaker 9:

Look to the sky for one place where the dawn will come.

Speaker 1:

This is Queer Voices.

Speaker 6:

I am Brett Cullum. Today I am joined by representatives of Diverse Works Houston, an organization that has been around since the 1980s. They've been promoting diversity and opportunity in the Houston art scene. So please welcome Jennifer Gardner and Kuma to Queer Voices. Thank you, thank you. Tell me a little bit about your show that's coming up Friday, May 17th. The Match Facility, Midtown. It's called Luck of the Draw.

Speaker 3:

I am a staff member of the deputy director here at Diverse Works and you're correct, we've been around since 1983. Luck of the Draw is our only fundraising event of the year, so it's really exciting and very important to us. It's the first in-person event fundraising event of this kind that we've done since 2019. The pandemic forced us to go online Luck of the Draw in 2021. But basically what it is is we invite hundreds of artists to participate and create and donate small works of art, and the artists we work with are multidisciplinary, so they're from across genres, and each of those works of art is sold through a drawing, and so at the event, when your number's drawn, you rush and choose the artwork of your choice. So there's a little bit of competition among the attendees, and Kuma is on our board and is also one of the participating artists, so I don't know if they want to say something.

Speaker 8:

I love this event. I always put this out there, and I think that is one of the things that is so difficult to explain to people. And when you say like, oh, you know, we draw a ticket and kind of thing, like no people, there is a wall, an entire wall of these like small art pieces. I think there are six by nine, something like that. And so when the event starts, there's this like kind of mingly noshy time and so you get to chat with other people. There's artists, there's recognizable people from around the community, but people also get a chance to kind of preview the art, and so people get their eyes on, like, certain pieces that they want, and there tends to be certain pieces that everyone wants, right. So then, as the event kind of really gets going, there's like a big galado raffle barrel that we pull numbers out of, and so when people's numbers are called, it's not just like oh, number 17,. And you walk up, no, it's number 17,. And people scream and like run to the wall and try and grab a piece, and you hear people go oh no, I wanted that one. And before anything you know any more can happen, another number is being called and then another number. So you're getting through 200-plus numbers just through this one event, and so it's a lot of fun. Sometimes you know you're talking to somebody and your number's called and you almost miss it, and you know. So there's a lot of like fast-paced action and excitement that happens at this event, so it's really, really interesting and it's a lot of fun to go to.

Speaker 8:

I, as Jennifer mentioned, I do have not just one, but two small artworks that will be available for you to scream with joy and grab off the wall. I also, in the past, several years ago, have hosted the event and I, I believe that year the theme was like I don't know, I was dressed like a burlesque dancer sort of thing. I don't really remember what the theme specifically was. This year's theme is ecosystem and it kind of goes hand in hand with what DiverseWorks is doing. So you know what what I'm going to do is. I'm going to say it goes hand in hand with something really cool that DiverseWorks is doing, and I'm going to pass that on to Jennifer from there.

Speaker 3:

Sure.

Speaker 3:

So, yes, we came up with this theme of ecosystem, both referring to the creative ecosystem of Houston and the arts ecosystem and as a way to have people support that ecosystem.

Speaker 3:

Also, over the past year, we have been really working on some climate action plans and items. We've been working with the Tegre really working on some climate action plans and items. We've been working with the Teeger Foundation to develop a climate action plan that can be a model for small to midsize arts organizations like ourselves. We also our upcoming exhibition in the fall, which this fundraiser will support in part, is called River on Fire and our curator, ashley DeHHuyos, is spearheading that project and it's really about climate resiliency and climate justice in Houston, which takes as a point of departure the San Jacinto River fire of the early 90s, which was when, literally, the river caught on fire because of a ruptured pipeline due to flooding, and so that's kind of the point of departure, and it will involve an exhibition, a visual artist, but also some performance pieces as well. So we are really everything we do is kind of focused on social and cultural justice issues, but climate is really becoming a big one here in Houston, as you all know.

Speaker 6:

The theme of it is ecosystem. Are the artists? Is each piece going to be directly answering that theme?

Speaker 3:

We told them about the theme and gave them the choice, but also we did not want to prescribe any particular way that they should interpret that theme or force them to do so. But having looked at a lot of the works that have been coming in, people have been interpreting that theme in various different ways. There are lots of flora and fauna pieces, a lot of abstract pieces, so it'll be interesting to see, once they're all hung together, how everyone has interpreted that.

Speaker 6:

How many people do you have attend this?

Speaker 3:

Usually it's around 200. I mean, these artists are from not just Houston but from across the country and a few from outside of the country. The artists many of the artists do attend. They are able to attend for free and they can bring a guest for a very discounted price for a guest ticket. So that is also what makes this party super fun is that the artists are also there. It's not just for the patrons, it's for everyone to meet each other and to again be part of this community and arts community.

Speaker 6:

We're talking with Jennifer Gardner and Kuma of Diverse Works, houston. Friday, may 17th at the Match Facility in Midtown, called Luck of the Draw. The event runs from 7 pm until 10 pm. Some point like 8 or something. The madness starts.

Speaker 3:

There's kind of two sets of drawings. Our host this year is Mr McKinney of Mr McKinney's Bus Tours, so he will be leading us through the evening. We have a DJ DJ Ivy will be providing sounds, food by Chef Johnny Rhodes, and then we'll have a bar, of course, and then the first drawing happens around 7.30 and that will go for probably 30 minutes and then we'll take a little break and then have the second drawing. It kind of depends on how many art chances people buy. That's what we call the numbers that they buy. A lot of people end up buying more art chances when they arrive at the event. You can buy them ahead of time, but once people see all the artwork they really start purchasing through the evening.

Speaker 6:

Are you charged to just come in or are you only charged if you're doing network cheats?

Speaker 3:

No. For the fundraising event, there is a ticket to come in, and all of these tickets are available on our website, which is diverseworksorg. The admission price gets you the drinks and the food and supports DiverseWorks Also, the artists have the choice of donating 100% of those proceeds to DiverseWorks or they can receive 50% of the proceeds. It's really so. We want to make this as beneficial to the participating artists as well, so, again, trying to make this as easy as possible for them. But we definitely have some 3D sculptural works and collage and, yeah, painting, watercolor drawing. I actually have kuma's piece right in front of me, which people on the podcast won't be able to see, but here is theirs, which is called sea plastic pollution, jelly fish in polyethylene and acrylic. So very much in the theme of ecosystem.

Speaker 6:

Now, Kuma, you are listed as the artist and executive director for Houston Intersex Society.

Speaker 8:

Tell me about that role and what you've worked on the Houston Intersex Society. We are the only intersex organization in the state of Texas. As far as we know. We're the only intersex organization among the southern Gulf states as well. If you're not familiar with what intersex, the only intersex organization among the southern Gulf states as well.

Speaker 8:

If you're not familiar with what intersex is, intersex is when someone is born with anatomical, hormonal, chromosomal or gonadal variations in their body.

Speaker 8:

That makes them kind of in between what is considered typical for male or female or female, and within our community some of the biggest concerns and issues is the fact that when these children are born they're often subjected to forced surgical interventions that cause permanent sterilization. Obviously pain, scarring, urinary incontinence, sometimes sexual dysfunction. About 50% of the time they surgically assign us the wrong sex. So it's a bodily autonomy issue, it's a reproductive justice issue, it is a intersectional issue in a lot of ways and historically there's not been a lot of voices that are open and out about intersex traits. So we're trying to really be present and create opportunities for intersex people in Houston and nationwide. And a lot of the work that we're doing, in addition to kind of the typical education and community programming, we do a lot of arts-oriented work as well, so recently we made an intersex-themed art car. We're currently working on opening the only intersex community center, so there's a lot of work that we're doing there, as well as an archive of history and art pieces about intersex people.

Speaker 6:

That's amazing, because I think it's part of the community that we don't hear enough about, and I think it's one of those where I have a lot of people that ask me, so I think it is so important to get out there. Jennifer, you are the deputy director for DiverseWorks. I noticed that Match seems to be you guys' home base. How did that happen? How did you guys end up operating out of the Match?

Speaker 3:

We have been at the Match since 2015, when the Match opened, and it was a long time coming. A lot of those conversations started way before I even started at DiverseWorks in 2012. But there was basically a desire for small to medium midsize arts organizations to have a place that was affordable to present and have office space as well. The match has evolved to be many things over those years, but we are, you're right. We currently have our offices here at Match on the second floor. When needed, we rent either the gallery space, which is where Luck of the Draw is, or any of the four theater spaces.

Speaker 3:

Over the past year, we've done multiple projects, both in the small actually in three of the theaters in the dance theater, the small black box theater and then the larger black box theater. So we try and use every space we can at Match. We also present projects all across the city. It really is artist-driven. So the artists we commission new works from artists really is artist-driven. So the artists we commission new works from artists. Through conversations with them, we decide the best place for that work to be presented. Sometimes it's outside. Again, sometimes it's in the theaters at Match. So it's a really versatile space.

Speaker 6:

I find myself there at least once a weekend. It is so amazing to be in that space and I love the gallery. I think it's a really pretty one. If you've never seen it, if you're a listener, it's across one of the larger theaters and it's a great space. You can see some of the artwork from the street as you walk by, which is always really nice. I think this sounds like a great event. Luck of the Draw at the Match facility Friday May 17th. And, of course, jennifer remind us again how we can get tickets and learn more about DiverseWorks. It's through.

Speaker 3:

Our website is just diverseworksorg, and also I would encourage everyone to follow us on Instagram, which is just at DiverseWorks. We've been posting some sneak peek pics of the artworks, which we'll continue to do as we lead up to the event, and you can also. The ticket link is in the bio there as well.

Speaker 6:

And Lula, you talked about Houston Intersex Society, so I want to give people a chance to connect with that as well, if they're out there and they want to learn more or they want to join our organization. How did we find the Houston Intersex Society?

Speaker 8:

Online. Our website is intersexhoustoncom, and we're also on various social media. We're also on facebook. I think our facebook probably doesn't get as much action or posting I don't know if action is the right word. We don't post on there as much as some of the other social media, but we are on there. You can also contact us through there and on Messenger. We are very responsive.

Speaker 3:

Thank you both. Thank you so much for having us.

Speaker 1:

Now there's some good radio, a conversation that you almost feel part of, providing clear information and opinions from people in our community. I'd say that's almost worth paying for. Well, except that all of the good work that you hear on Queer Voices is done by volunteers. But like anything, it still costs money as well as our volunteers' time to bring this unique radio program to you each week. Will you contribute a little bit to help keep us and KPFT going? We're looking for listeners to become members of KPFT, partners with us really, in keeping us out there on the airwaves and in podcasts around the world. But even a one-time gift will make a difference. Please go to kpftorg and click the red Donate button for more information. We thank you and I think you'll thank yourself the next time you hear us on Queer Voices.

Speaker 4:

I know, martha, thanks you.

Speaker 6:

This is.

Speaker 1:

Queer Voices is Queer.

Speaker 6:

Voices. This is Brett Cullum. He's an actor, he's a director, he's a producer and a fashion icon. It is Ron Jones. Ron helps run his own theater company called On the Verge, and often directs in other places as well. And we're here today to discuss the upcoming run of Appropriate, which is produced by the Dirt Dogs at the Match venue. It opens May 24th through June 8th. So welcome to the show, ron.

Speaker 4:

Thank you, brad, thank you for that lovely introduction.

Speaker 6:

Well, first, tell us about Appropriate. What is it about?

Speaker 4:

What is Appropriate about? Yeah, appropriate is inadvertently a play about race, and what I mean about that is it never really addresses the issue of race. Brandon Jacobs Jenkins is a black playwright, but there are no people of color in the play. It's an entirely Caucasian cast and it's a play in which I think the major theme is probably that he addresses family as an assortment of mismatched and competing memories. So, as this story is being told, family members remember what happened, but they all remember it in a different way you know, I am getting pummeled by facebook ads for appropriate on broadway right now with sarah paulson.

Speaker 6:

Yeah, so I am amazed that you guys got the rights to do this I know that was a miracle of sorts.

Speaker 4:

I actually saw it on broadway before it moved to the to the latest venue. But we had acquired the rights a year ago and I think when it first came to new york it was only going to be a limited run and it would have been over by the time that we started ours. But then they decided to pick it up and take it to another house. So it's still there. So yeah, that's good for us, I guess.

Speaker 6:

No, it's great for you guys. I know that the play itself came from 2013. Do you know, has any Houston theater done it? No, it's never been done here before. The rec room was going to do it at one point and then, just before it opened, kovat happened. Yeah. Yeah, I remember those times. Okay. Now, the producing company with this one is dirt dogs, yeah, and it's run by a husband and wife team melinda beckham and trevor cone. Yeah, now, their brand traditionally, from my point of view, has been testosteroneed manly men plays. They've done A Lie of the Mind, glen Gary, glen Ross, the Graduate, a Steady Rain, and then you came along a few years ago and you really changed their aesthetic with productions like Clyburn Park, august, osage County. How did you get involved with them?

Speaker 4:

I kind of stalked them and they stalked me. I had seen a couple of productions and I went up to Melinda afterwards and said I'd like to work for you sometime. And she was like, oh my god, we'd love to have you work for us. So it just kind of happened that way and we were met for each other. I guess, do you get to pick the plays plays, or have they already slated them? I have input, but Melinda is the artistic director and she normally decides on the shows that she wants to do and she asks me what I'm interested in doing.

Speaker 6:

But do you actually pitch it to Melinda and say, hey, let's do Appropriate, or does she come to you and say hey, I want you to do Appropriate.

Speaker 4:

We both knew about Appropriate. And I said what about Appropriate? And she said oh, yes, let me read that again. And then she did and said yes, it's a great piece for us as a director.

Speaker 6:

what kind of drew you to Appropriate?

Speaker 4:

I'm always drawn to pieces that have dark humor and I think this one has a lot of dark humor. And beyond that, it's an extremely well-written play. It's very prosaic but it's also very lyrical. If you ever read any interviews with Brandon Jacobs Jenkins, his inspirations, he says, were Tennessee Williams, eugene O'Neill, sam Shepard and then more contemporary people like Suzanne Laurie Parks, and he writes kind of in that style.

Speaker 4:

There's a great deal of lyricism in his plays, especially in the stage directions, because he says that he's inspired by the poetic nature of Tennessee Williams' stage directions. So I remember reading when I first read the play he says in the stage direction the light abandons us and is replaced by darkness, you know, which is probably how every play begins, but it's just such a poetic way of expressing that. So I like his writing. I like the characters that he's created for this play. They're all very well drawn and very colorful and very dramatic in many ways. And as in all his plays, he creates a great deal of conflict, and I'm drawn to conflicted plays and try to create it when it's not there.

Speaker 6:

The yin to the yang in Dirt Dog is that they traditionally had done plays that featured men, men heavy, and you have really brought in these pieces like August of Sage County, where it takes women and it looks like Appropriate, has a lot of women Right and it looks like you may have some heavy hitters as far as your actresses in this one. So can you tell me a little bit about who's in this one?

Speaker 4:

Oh, absolutely Well, hitters as far as your actresses in this one. So can you tell me a little bit about who's in this one? Oh, absolutely well. Melinda beckham is doing the lead in the show, and let's see who else is in it scarlesson player and elizabeth marshall black and jeff featherston, a new actress named carolyn, and let's see who else.

Speaker 6:

Brock huerta and christ Tanous you have one young gentleman, I think Michael Hellman.

Speaker 4:

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, he plays. There's a child in the show and he plays the child. He plays the eight-year-old.

Speaker 6:

I was talking with somebody about Appropriate and they said that there might be a little bit of a connection to the LGBTQIA plus community. Is there any characters in it that maybe have that theme running through it? Or is it really just race, family memory?

Speaker 4:

I think there's one character whose sexuality is in question, and that's probably the only reference, and it's never stated, but we come to the conclusion, I think, as an audience, that he probably is a gay man.

Speaker 6:

I'm talking with director Ron Jones. He is directing Appropriate at the Match Venue. It runs May 24th through June 8th. But while I have you here, I would be completely remiss if we didn't talk a little bit about your own theater company, On the Verge, and you run that with Bruce Lumpkin right.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, what do you guys have coming up? Our next production is called love, loss and what I wore. It's a piece by nora evran and her sister, delia evran, and it's about women, their lives, their personal stories and their accounts of what they were wearing. Very funny and very poignant. A real departure, I think, from the kind of theater that you may normally see, because it's five actresses who play about 35 different characters each.

Speaker 6:

With this new company On the Verge and you guys are doing shows out at Alta Arts. Yes, we are. What is your vision for On the Verge?

Speaker 4:

Our vision is to bring things that are new to Houston and that address diversity, and to offer a safe place for actors to create. Essentially Well, because this is Queer Voices too.

Speaker 6:

let's talk gay theater specifically. For a little while, houston used to have this huge LGBTQIA plus scene. We had queer productions. They were often running simultaneously head to head against each other, and I feel like that has disappeared. Why do you think that that hole is there now?

Speaker 4:

Yeah, I had one of those theaters with celebration, right. We never could find the audience that we needed to sustain ourselves. We never could find those men and women who were really interested in seeing theater that addressed their lifestyles. Why, I don't know, but I think that's still the case and that's been, I don't know, almost 10 years ago. I think that's still the case. We still find it difficult whenever we do offer something that addresses those issues. We still find it difficult to get an audience system. Are you seeing?

Speaker 6:

less gay theater coming out Like less plays about us.

Speaker 4:

No, I'm seeing more plays come out. I see more plays come out and some of them are wonderful. They're very, very, very good and obviously they have an audience in places like New York and Chicago and San Francisco and areas like that. For some reason, there is not an audience here that I have found yet.

Speaker 6:

Well, here's hoping that you find them, because I definitely I'm continuing to search Exactly Because I miss all of that. I miss that kind of carnival atmosphere of all of those people. Yes, no, absolutely. If you don't mind me asking, I don't want to date you, but how long have you been in the Houston art scene and how did you start here?

Speaker 4:

Well, it's been 53 years and I started essentially at the University of Houston with Cecil Pickett, whose acting class I was taking, and I was very, very shy, I was a recluse, and he called me and said I want you to come and audition for my next show. And I did, and that show was a revelation for me because it was way before its time. It was Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children, and in Mother Courage he cast a black actress as Mother Courage and three white children, one of whom was Dennis Quaid, and that show to me was just so exciting and doing it was so exciting. Doing it with those people and with Mr Pickett was very exciting.

Speaker 4:

And then at that time, marietta Merrick with the Grand Dame of Houston Theater. She came to see the show and she asked me to be in her next production at the Dean Goss Dinner Theater. So I started getting paid with my second show and I thought, oh, this is really cool, I do really like doing this. So you know, it's just been. It's been a steady diet of either acting and directing or producing for me for the last 53 years.

Speaker 6:

You have a great reputation. A lot of people say that your productions are just outstanding. I know that one of my co-hosts with this show, deborah Moncrief-Bell, and I just loved August Osage County. We could not stop talking about it, even a year after we saw it, I was just like, oh my gosh, and I really look forward to this entire appropriate at the match, because I think that when you guys come together, when you pair with Melinda and Trevor with Dirt Dogs, it seems like some kind of weird magic happens.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, well, I think part of that is the fact that Melinda and Trevor are not afraid of things. They sort of have a mantra of danger, and I like that. I like being dangerous, I like going out on the edge with things, I like exploring new issues, and so when we do get together, it's usually a very nice match. And, as I said earlier, they're very good about asking me to do things that I am passionate about, because I don't like to do anything that I'm not passionate about, and they make sure that that happens. So, yeah, I think it is a really good match.

Speaker 6:

Well, ironically, a good match. I'm playing at the match venue May 24th through June 8th. It's called Appropriate. One thing I wanted to ask you about, too, is I am hearing a lot of rumblings around the Houston community that a couple of groups are about to spring up as trans-specific theater. Yes, yeah. What is your take on that? What do you think that that may offer? That would be different from what we saw with the gay theater of maybe the 90s, like the Jeffries and the Torch Song Trilogy and all of that.

Speaker 4:

Yes, I think it's wonderful and I think that it's about time that we had theaters like that. What I'm hoping is that the kind of programming that they will do will pave the way for other theaters to do plays about the transgender issue. There are a couple of plays that we would like to do on the Verge that we haven't done because we don't know how to gauge that audience. We don't know whether we're going to get people in. So when these new production companies come up, I will be anxious to see the success that they have.

Speaker 6:

I went to a reading recently from a group called Translucent and they had an entire transgender cast and crew and it was amazing and, like I said, they didn't do a full-fledged production, it was just a reading but I was very excited of the idea of these artists coming together and creating work and really being featured. I think that that may be something in the future and maybe we can join forces and find that audience that you keep saying.

Speaker 4:

Absolutely and On the Verge, would certainly be up for that challenge.

Speaker 6:

Well, I'm going to hold you to that Absolutely, ron Jones, it has been amazing talking with you. I am so honored to have been able to do that. I'm very excited about Appropriate. It's one of the shows that I've been waiting for. When I saw your name underneath the title I was like, oh yeah, oh, you're very kind, reserve now immediately. So everybody at the Match Venue May 24th. Everybody at the match venue May 24th.

Speaker 5:

This radio program we Are Voices has existed since the 1970s. On KPFT we have this little crew of folks working every week to produce what's no longer unique because we're almost mainstream now, but we're still an important voice that might not otherwise get heard because it's not on that many places. So KPFT is very important to give voices to those who might not otherwise have voices. So, as Glenn always says, you participate by listening. So, as Glenn always says, you participate by listening. You should also participate by supporting the station.

Speaker 9:

So please go to kpftorg and make your donation right away. I'm David Hunt and I'm John Dyer V.

Speaker 10:

With News Wrap a summary of some of the news in or affecting LGBTQ communities around the world for the week ending May 18, 2024. All transgender, gender-fluid and non-binary people are mentally ill by decree of Peru's right-wing government. The so-called mental illnesses named in the declaration President Dina Bolliarte signed on May 10th are what it calls transsexualism and other gender identity disorders. The health ministry insists that the decree should not be interpreted as anti-LGBTQ and claims that the intention was to guarantee full coverage of medical attention for mental health. Its statement, issued the following day, underscores the fact that conversion therapy will still be against the law.

Speaker 10:

Human Rights Watch and other global human rights groups are alarmed. To trans activist Maluska Luzquinos of the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Trans People, the decree and its rationale constitute an alarming setback in our fight for the human rights of trans people in Peru, and it represents a serious danger to our health and well-being. A statement from the Peruvian Queer Advocacy Group, red Peruana said the decree reflected an outdated view of gender identity. As Outfest Peru director, jain Sir Pekaya, tweeted, 100 years after the decriminalization of homosexuality, the Ministry of Health has no better idea than to include trans people in the category of mental illnesses. We demand and we will not rest until its repeal.

Speaker 9:

The concept of gender identity should not be discussed by British public school teachers in any way. That's according to a draft document now being circulated by the Tory government. It also suggests a total ban on all sex education materials or discussion in classrooms before school year five, when students are typically nine years old. The draft reminds many community activists of the Thatcher era's odious Section 28, which banned the discussion of sexual orientation in public schools. Muzzling classroom discussion of gender identity follows close on the heels of the National Health Service's recent virtual ban on gender-affirming health care for patients under the age of 18. Speaking for the National Education Union, Daniel Kibedi defends the ability of teachers to approach sex education in an age-appropriate and phase-appropriate way. To Kibedi, the draft guidance is yet more culture war noise from an ill-informed and out-of-touch government. In his words, the government appears to be seeding doubts that this is not already being done and thought about carefully by school leaders and teachers up and down the land. The draft will reportedly undergo a nine-week consultation process before being finalized.

Speaker 10:

Marriage equality is coming to Lichtenstein. Local media sources in the tiny European nation report the Parliament's approval of a bill to open the civil institution to same-gender couples following a second reading. The May 16th vote was a lopsided 24-1. Registered partnerships for same-gender couples were created in 2011. The new legislation will make it easy for registered partners to convert them into marriage. Lesbian and gay couples can begin their legal march down the aisle on January 1, 2025. Lichtenstein is an alpine nation nestled between Austria and Switzerland, with a population of less than 40,000. It will become the last German-speaking European country to enact marriage equality.

Speaker 9:

The US Department of Homeland Security. The FBI and the US State Department are warning of potential terrorist violence at upcoming June Pride Month celebrations. There are no specific threats at this time, but US citizens in LGBTQ and allied communities at home and abroad should be on alert. A joint statement by the FBI and Homeland Security pointed to a February 2023 English-language ISIS publication that called for attacks on soft targets, specifically including LGBTQ events. There was also an attempt by ISIS sympathizers to attack the LGBTQ Pride Parade in Vienna last June.

Speaker 9:

June 12th could be a particularly sensitive date. It's the eighth anniversary of the massacre at the Queer Pulse nightclub in Orlando, florida. The FBI and Homeland Security remind us that the gunman had pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State and that pro-ISIS social media posts at the time praised the slaughter. The US State Department issued its own cautionary message to queer US travelers on May 17th. All three agencies call on LGBTQ people and allies to always be aware of their surroundings. Any suspicious activity should be reported to the proper authorities. In case of imminent danger, don't hesitate to use appropriate emergency phone numbers.

Speaker 10:

Plaintiff Muslim, jewish and Christian parents in Maryland's Montgomery County lost another ruling in their bid to keep their children out of classes with LGBTQ-related content. Their appeal was rejected by the Richmond, virginia-based Fourth US Circuit Court. The county's public school system specifically mandates the inclusion of literature with LGBTQ plus characters as part of the English language and language arts curriculum, aiming to promote understanding and acceptance among students. The parents argued that the policy contradicts their sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage, human sexuality and gender. A lower court decision said that the parents had failed to show how the policy would indoctrinate their children. While the parents had claimed that the policy interferes with their ability to school their children in their beliefs, the court said it did not coerce their children to violate or change their religious beliefs. The appeals court agreed. The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty is representing the plaintiff. Parents Spokesperson Eric Baxter proclaimed we will appeal this ruling.

Speaker 9:

Houston County, georgia transgender deputy Anna Lang won support for her anti-discrimination claim in the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals this week, and it's costing the sheriff's office a pretty penny. Lang filed suit in 2019 when her departmental health insurance coverage denied her appropriate transition-related health care. A lower court agreed in 2022 that the denial violated federal workplace anti-bias laws. A three-judge panel of the Atlanta, georgia-based Federal Appeals Court upheld that assessment on May 13. Their ruling cited the Supreme Court's 2020 Bostock conclusion that federal employment anti-discrimination laws protect LGBTQ workers. Lange has spent 26 years in law enforcement, 17 of them with Houston County. She came out as trans in 2017. Her gender-affirming surgery would have cost $10,000. Houston County has spent more than a million dollars in legal fees to avoid paying for it. Will the county spend even more money to pursue the case? The meter is still running.

Speaker 10:

Finally, a roller derby team is skating to the rescue of transgender girls and women banned from competing in girls and women's sports. The New York Civil Liberties Union challenged Republican Nassau County New York Executive Bruce Blakeman's late February executive order on behalf of the Long Island Roller Rebels County Supreme Court. Judge Francis Rosigliano decided on May 10th that Blakeman's sweeping edict was not legally supported. He wrote no corresponding legislative enactment provides the county executive with the authority to issue such an order. In the NYCLU press release, roller Robles spokesperson Curly Fry says as a league welcoming trans women and committed to providing a safe space for everyone to be their full selves, county Executive Blakeman's order tried to punish us just because we believe in inclusion and stand against transphobia. Trans people belong everywhere, including in sports, and they will not be erased.

Speaker 9:

That's News Wrap, global queer news with attitude for the week ending May 18th 2024. Follow the news in your area and around the world. An informed community is a strong community. News.

Speaker 10:

Wrap is written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappell, produced by Brian DeShazer and brought to you by you.

Speaker 9:

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 V. Stay healthy.

Speaker 10:

And I'm David Hunt, 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 Levinka. Andrew Edmondson and Debra Moncrief-Bell are frequent contributors, 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 7:

Some of the material in this program has been edited to improve clarity and run time. This program does not endorse any political views or animal species. Views, opinions and endorsements are those of the participants and the organizations they represent.

Speaker 1:

In case of death. Please discontinue use and discard remaining products For Queer Voices. I'm Glenn Holt.

Queer Voices
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Luck of the Draw Event Details
Exploring Houston's Theater Scene
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