Identity, Family, Belief: Novelist Silas House Chats Writing about Appalachia by Josh Inocéncio

"During a reading at an elementary school in Madison County, a student asked House if he was married. When he replied he was, the boy asked what House’s wife’s name was. While in the past House has wrestled with how open he wants to be with his personal life, he responded to the student, 'Well, I have a husband and his name is Jason.' Some of the children gasped and afterward House told their teacher, 'You may get calls from some angry parents later.' But the teacher just smiled and said, 'Too bad.'

'I want to normalize that,' House says, referring to coming out to his audiences so casually. 'I also know normalization is a complicated term for gay people, because we don’t want to be normalized. But I do want to be seen as a human being.'"

For full article, check out the original publication at Spectrum South.

Queer, Undocumented, and Undeterred by Josh Inocéncio

"When Adonias Arevalo was 11, he fled El Salvador after witnessing the murder of his father. He moved to Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico before reaching the United States.

Now, with Senate Bill 4 targeting so-called 'sanctuary cities' in Texas, Arevalo could face deportation back to one of the most anti-LGBTQ places in the world, where the gangs that control El Salvador target both gay and transgender people.

'The reason why SB4 is more dangerous [for queer people] is because it puts us at risk of deportation to countries where we’ve fled violence,' said Arevalo, a Houston-based statewide organizer for United We Dream, the largest youth-led immigrant organization in the U.S."

For full article, check out the original publication at OutSmart Magazine.

Intersectionality Trumps Hate by Josh Inocéncio

An interview with the British group, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants...

Josh Inocéncio: In your group’s vision, how does being queer relate to “smashing borders”?

Morten Viabank: It’s been 50 years since homosexuality was decriminalized in the United Kingdom, but the British government still deems itself as fit to decide who is considered legal and illegal in our society—who is granted the right to live here, and those not afforded that privilege. Instead of raiding our LGBT+ venues and harassing queer people on the streets, the government is now engaged in the mass deportation of migrants in the UK seeking refuge—many of whom are LGBT. Officers might no longer be busting through the doors of underground [gay] bars, but they [are now] entering homes and communities, snatching people from their beds in the dead of night and forcing them into handcuffs to deport them to places where their lives might be in danger.

For full interview, check out the original publication at OutSmart Magazine.

Of Flamingos and Motel Pools: Queer New Orleans Artist Brings Her Work to Bayou City Art Festival by Josh Inocéncio

"For queer Southern artist Amanda Bennett, inspiration rises up from family memories and the routines of her environment. Her multimedia work, which she refers to as “digital art,” is rooted in her native Huntsville, Alabama, as well as her adopted homes of Birmingham, Nashville, and, currently, New Orleans. Her subject matter—ranging from mobile homes and corded telephones to local barbershops—will be familiar to many in the South. Later this month, her nostalgic work will appear in Houston at the Bayou City Art Festival–Memorial Park."

For full article, check out the original publication at OutSmart Magazine. 

Quiet Disruptions: Houston Grand Opera Premieres 'Some Light Emerges' by Josh Inocéncio

"This month, the internationally renowned Houston Grand Opera will premiere a new piece, Some Light Emerges, in The Ballroom at Bayou Place. The chamber opera explores the power and beauty of Houston’s iconic Rothko Chapel, following five characters in Houston over several decades as they unexpectedly encounter the purple-and-black paintings that hang on the walls of the interfaith sanctuary. The creative team consists of composer Laura Kaminsky and co-librettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, all of whom worked together on a previous opera entitled As One."

For full article, check out the original publication at OutSmart Magazine. 

To Hell with Unity by Josh Inocéncio

"Let me be clear: I cannot forget nor forgive the hatred that Trump popularized and validated over the last year. We’re looking at a man who only belatedly and reluctantly distanced himself from David Duke, the Ku Klux Klan, and other white supremacist groups. What’s done is done and an apology is worthless. I’m not approaching Trump with an “open mind” (sorry, Hillary). He has already stirred the dregs of America into mainstream discourse. We’ve seen at least one hate crime against a gay man and tons of hate speech toward Muslims, blacks, and undocumented immigrants in just a few days. My opposition to Trump isn’t about me being a sore loser, because this isn’t about Hillary Clinton. This is about the safety of millions of Americans who now find themselves in a more violent America ever since Wednesday morning."

For full article, check out the original publication at OutSmart Magazine.

Ties Across the Pond: LGBT Precedents in Indigenous American and West African Cultures by Josh Inocéncio

"Embedded in our history on this continent is a sacred beacon for LGBT Latinas/os and African-Americans to remember their queer ancestors and the vital roles they played in their ancient societies. As presidential candidates and lawmakers spar over granting basic rights for LGBT people, I turn to pre-constitutional roots to gain inspiration for envisioning a 21st-century America where we are not just tolerated, but embraced.

Before the Spanish conquistadors arrived in Mesoamerica, muxes, or third-gender individuals, thrived in Oaxaca—and many still do. Near modern-day Mexico City, the Aztecs acknowledged a god, Huehuecoyotl, who represented male lovers. These pre-Columbian cultures integrated gender-nonconforming and same-sex-loving people into their societies, and they often occupied spiritual roles. North of the imperial borders, Native Americans referred to these individuals as “two-spirits,” indicating that they are born with both male and female energies in balance."

For full article, check out the original publication at OutSmart Magazine.

Mixing the Culture Pot: Growing Up Gay and Austro-Mexican in Houston by Josh Inocéncio

"This family lineage colors my earliest memories. Grandpa José died from a heart attack nine years before I was born, but Oma Fritzi told me her tales about Austria and Mexico, fashioning fantasy images in my child’s mind of the far-off lands from which my ancestors emerged. Lands where Saint Bernards bounded through avalanches to rescue lost wanderers, lands where La Virgen granted prayers for those whose knees dug deep into her earth. I heard these stories along with the fairy tales Oma read me, and all of them ignited my love for crafting narratives through performance.

Growing up as an Austro-Mexican, cultural awareness was always present. I knew which languages I wanted to learn, and I had family members with whom I could practice. I learned our recipes that were passed down orally through generations and still converge in cultural harmony during the holidays when we eat tamales for dinner and Linzertorten for dessert."

For full article, check out the original publication at OutSmart Magazine.

Immigrants v. the World: Lawyer Raed Conzalez Talks Electoral Politics and LGBT Discrimination by Josh Inocéncio

"Originally from Puerto Rico, Raed Gonzalez has crafted a career here in Houston as an immigration attorney dedicated to defending immigrants and refugees from all over the world. Over the last 18 years in Texas’ largest city, Gonzalez has argued and won three Supreme Court cases (all pro-bono) that have fundamentally changed how courts interpret immigration laws in the United States. In addition to those successes, Gonzalez has cultivated an inclusive firm that welcomes LGBT immigrants, and particularly transgender individuals who still experience severe discrimination both in their home countries and in the U.S. legal system."

For full article, check out the original publication at OutSmart Magazine.

We're Guilty: Orlando's Blood Runs Fresh Through America's Stripes by Josh Inocéncio

"Can I grasp his hand as we stroll through the zoo? Can I rest my head on his shoulder as we drag along Austin’s streets in our Uber? Can I lean in on the sidewalk, press his hips to mine, and taste the spice on his tongue after dinner? 

Flash. Gay couple’s faces smashed in Philadelphia, blood stains the city streets that allegedly gave us our freedom. Thirty mugged or beaten in Oak Lawn, police slide the case files to the bottom of the stack. Forty-nine—49—slaughtered in Orlando, phones ringing and vibrating as their bodies waste on the club floor.

Dreams for public affection dissolve into dust."

For full article, check out the original publication at OutSmart Magazine.

The First National LGBT Monument: President Obama Memorializes the Stonewall Inn by Josh Inocéncio

"Aside from the obvious historic import that Stonewall carries, President Obama couldn’t have chosen a better site, given that the riots were led by two trans women of color: Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Much more than a museum commemorating past struggles, the Stonewall Inn is a beacon that can unite the LGBT community now. In the aftermath of the Stonewall Riots, the LGBT community splintered as white gay men (who largely set the agenda for political activism in New York City and beyond) neglected the needs of the trans community in favor of securing their own rights. This harsh division led Johnson and Rivera to launch the aforementioned STAR group, which focused explicitly on trans rights. As the We’ve Been Around docu-series iterates, Johnson and Rivera fought for 'people who fell between the cracks of the gay and straight worlds.'”

For full article, check out the original publication at OutSmart Magazine.

At the U.I.L. Vanguard: High School Production of 'Holy Day' Confronts Male-Male Rape by Josh Inocéncio

"There are two pervasive issues in our society that high schools, especially in Texas, don’t confront enough: rape and colonialism. But these harsh realities are what Carnegie Vanguard High School’s U.I.L. One-Act Play production of Holy Day by Andrew Bovell forces audiences to contemplate. This production, which has stirred audiences across Texas for its visceral portrayal of male-male rape and colonial violence, has advanced to the 6A State contest and will appear at The University of Texas in Austin on May 25. In a special collaboration to raise funds for Holy Day to attend the Edinburg Fringe Festival, the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA) hosted a performance, which is directed by Carnegie’s theater teacher Steward Savage."

For full article, check out the original publication at OutSmart Magazine.

Houston's Christopher Luke Moore Gears Up for AIDS/LifeCycle Ride by Josh Inocéncio

"From June 5–11, Houstonian Christopher Luke Moore, 26, will ride 545 miles on his bicycle from San Francisco to Los Angeles for the annual AIDS/LifeCycle ride. Joined by thousands of cyclists across the nation, Moore will traverse trails through California’s hills and beaches for seven days in order to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS research, which is sponsored by the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. For this year’s ride, Moore seeks to raise $10,000, which will ultimately support critical HIV/AIDS services, such as testing, medical treatment, and education services."

For full article, check out the original publication at OutSmart Magazine.

White, Gay, and a Beyhive Boy: For Whom is the Formation? by Josh Inocéncio

"The tendency is fraught among white gay men to conflate institutional homophobia toward the white gay body with systemic racism toward the black female body as if there is little to no nuance. I am not referring to the femininity through which many gay men challenge the gender spectrum; but rather, a caricatured performance of blackness that fetishizes and steals from black female culture, ultimately glazing over black women’s history."

For full article, check out the original publication at OutSmart Magazine.

Performing for Equality: Spring High School's Production of 'Looking for Normal' by Josh Inocéncio

"For weeks, the LGBT community has witnessed Republicans organize a national campaign that seeks to undercut protections for gays and lesbians by packaging bills as “religious freedom” laws. To pass these bills, politicians are also peddling the myth that transgender individuals who seek to use public facilities corresponding to their gender identity want to violate women and children. But amid the so-called “bathroom bills” gripping the South, Spring High School’s theater program in the Houston area’s northern suburbs is a beacon for equality in the University Interscholastic League (U.I.L.) One-Act Play competition."

For full article, check out the original publication at OutSmart Magazine.

Where Is the Outrage Worthy of a Nazarene? by Josh Inocéncio

"But for a man who has declared himself a 'Christian first, American second,' Cruz and his cohort seem confused on the nature of Jesus’ sacrifice. As the Nazarene preaches in the Book of Matthew, 'Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.' The core of the four New Testament gospels is Jesus coming to Earth in human form and fulfilling the laws of Leviticus with his ritual sacrifice on a crucifix. In the final chapters of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus dies and 'the veil of the temple was rent in twain from top to the bottom.' This passage is remarkably simple in demonstrating the force of the crucifixion, heralding a new age and rendering the old laws archaic. To cite Leviticus with the passion of Pastor Swanson is to misinterpret the Christian scriptures. Cruz’ right-wing crusade, then, is grounded in the bloodbath of Old Testament wars and a direct repudiation of the radical love embedded in Jesus of Nazareth’s sacrifice."

For full article, check out the original publication at OutSmart Magazine.

The Syrian Refugee Crisis Is an LGBT Fight, Too by Josh Inocéncio

"Now, it’s no secret that Governor Greg Abbott has refused to accept Syrian refugees into Texas where Dallas and Houston are key resettlement cities. Even though his legal justification is tenuous, the governor might waylay the refugee resettlement process in the courts. But I’ll remind the Jade Helm conspiracy theorist Gov. Abbott that, as Politico reports, former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger, as well as former CIA director David Petraeus, “have joined other national security experts and military leaders in calling on Congress to stop proposals that could deter the flow of Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the U.S.” According to these officials, the current vetting, which could take up to three years, is “robust and thorough.” Logically, this should allay Mr. Abbott’s concerns."

For full article, check out the original publication at OutSmart Magazine.