Latest Gay News
By Tammy Shaklee, Founder, He's For Me
As the "Gay Matchmaker" who introduces compatible men seeking a long-term relationship, my team and I work on coordinating the details of a first date on a daily basis. We are essentially "love agents" who represent our clients, and take the guesswork out of how, when, and where to meet that great guy who just might be the one.
Some might ask, why don't you just text or email me about him, and I'll take it from here? Overwhelmingly, from our interviews and getting to know gay bachelors from coast to coast, it's because...you won't. And don't. No matter how much you truly may want to.
Setting up first dates is what we do for a living. (We even coordinate the second date, if both mutually agree through the post introduction feedback process.)
My team of straight allies in the office happens to be all women. And women love details. (Trust me. My husband has been discussing our Texas coast camping trip for a year, so it's going to take me putting it on the calendar for it to happen.)
Men are men. In so many aspects, gay or straight. Men are big picture, big idea, big concept thinkers. They have great ideas and they are often proud to share them. But when it comes to the finer details...well...That's where we come in.
An actual date happens because of 3 very important details being proposed, sometimes negotiated, and then confirmed. They are:
Sound silly? Sound obvious? Sound too elementary? Let me ask then how many times you've heard or even said, "Hey, good to see you, you know, we never got that drink we talked about!"
"I know, right? Let's do."
"Alright, I'll text you."
"Oh, you text me? Okay, Can't wait."
Then 2-3 months later, you run in to that same great looking, got it together, fun-loving, and professionally successful bachelor. And what do you guys say? (Shall I repeat it again?)
The best way to get a first date, and see if he's also serious about escaping the group and sitting face to face and having coffee, or a drink, or sharing a happy hour or brunch with you, is to simply propose three things: an actual date on the calendar, a time that would work for each of you to meet, and a specific location. That's it.
Taking the risk to actually put that out there allows Mr. Eligible Bachelor to do one of two things. To show you he's serious by volleying, if you will. "Sounds great! Tuesday doesn't work for me, but Thursday would, and I love that place. Does Thursday at that same time work for you?" Or, let's be honest, if he's not that in to you, or is that ‘never going to commit guy', you might hear, "Oh, I love that place, but April is so crazy with Easter and all, so..."
If he doesn't take your offer and accept or negotiate to nail it down, move on. You can do the one arm hug and keep talking about that infamous drink for years, my dear. We hear examples of it every day. Don't waste your time, or his. Get a new casual greeting line for when you see him next. (Hell, compliment his shoes, and stop talking about getting together.)
If he doesn't take your offer, then refocus your efforts on the guy that will. Give yourself a goal. Give yourself a timeline. Start spring with the dating life you want and deserve. You can take some simple steps to be your own matchmaker. It all starts with asking that great guy to meet you for a drink to see if you might have a connection.
Who doesn't love chips, salsa, and a margarita (or Topo-chico) on a cool outdoor patio this time of year? Be on time, dress nice, meet at the hostess stand, and then all you have to worry about is the hostess finding you the best table. Salud!
For more information on traditional introductions, courting, and dating for today's modern gay man, visit He's For Me and like us on our Facebook Page for daily inspiration on finding love. #loveislove
Julie Mabry has been a vibrant influence on the Houston club scene for years. But beyond her work with Girl Jam Productions, she wanted to expand her talents into a bar that would be a destination for the local lesbian community. Her dream came true when she took ownership of the already established Pearl Bar on Houston's trendy Washington Ave, which has since become everything she's wanted and more. We spoke with Julie about some of the things that influence, encourage and challenge her.
MyGayHouston: You've had a great level of success as a club promoter, including winning several awards. Did you always know that you wanted to do this line of work?
Julie Mabry: I've known since the ripe age of sixteen that I wanted to own a bar/club. I drew an amateur blueprint of a club called Cactus Jean's at that age and the dream never ended.
How do you balance your work with Girl Jam Productions and running the Pearl Lounge?
Let's just say Girl Jam merged with Pearl. Girl Jam started when my friends Sheila Jares and Jennifer Haymen came up with the idea to have a women's music festival. I just kept running with that concept and turned it into Girl Jam Productions, which was a promotional brand for lesbian events. I have Pearl to focus on now and we will still have Girl Jam's once in a while, but my brand is now Pearl.
What made you interested in owning Pearl Lounge? As an older building, some would have been more attracted to a new building.
My business partner Mariana and I had been looking for a spot to open a lesbian bar for almost a year. I was bartending at Little J's (which is now Pearl Side Bar) and the landlord would come collect the rent every month, and I would beg her to let me lease Pearl. Being that I had been a part of The Usual for a few years, I knew the area and I knew that it was a good location. Mariana owns Avant Garden in Montrose and, at the time, Avant had been open for 17 years, so I knew that she and I, together, could make something magical happen.
In my opinion, the fact that it's an older building only gives Pearl a classier feel by which I feel lesbians and all of our customers deserve. Not only did my landlord invest a large amount of money to remodel the building, my business partner did too. The building is actually a candidate to win The Great Brick Award of Houston, a prestigious Historical Society award, and I have a strong feeling that Pearl won.
Did you have any missteps or regrets about how your ownership/transition to Pearl Lounge progressed?
None. I chose the best business partner I could have ever hoped for and she guided me the whole way through. I have no regrets.
What makes Pearl Lounge stand out from other clubs in Houston?
You can dance at Pearl Bar to DJ Ben Phoenix from KRBE then walk next door to Pearl Side Bar and play Ms Pac Man. Need I say more?
Do you have any plans or goals for growth or change in the club?
We just negotiated an extension to our lease that will keep us on the Washington Avenue map for quite a while. We just changed Pearl Sports to Pearl Side Bar to give it a more broad attraction. We will be adding a kitchen to Pearl Side Bar in the next few months.
How does living in Houston as opposed to any other city influence your work?
We have a lesbian mayor. Need I say more?
Washington Ave. is a vibrant part of the city with a famously loud and rambunctious nightlife scene. Has the location been a good fit for your vision of Pearl Lounge?
I'm not sure how long it has been since you've driven down Washington but it's changed significantly in the past three years. A lot of those rambunctious clubs have closed. Washington has mostly restaurants and townhomes that have popped up in the past few years. I think Pearl is fitting right in with the new direction of this area.
Who is your greatest inspiration?
My mom. She is the hardest working woman I have ever known and definitely the most understanding. I wouldn't be here without her.
By Jenn Haight
"It has to come from the street, it has to have been undervalued and it has to have been underappreciated, like me," Kiki Neumann says when describing her art. Her life in art is an ever-changing journey that began with garden benches and has morphed into more than 30 products created from discarded license plates. Her license plate merchandise ranges from jewelry to yard art, but her biggest sellers are her line of greeting cards featuring manipulated plates. "My sources come from different car dealers. I have an unlimited free supply," she says.
Kiki cuts the license plates and forms words and images. Some have traditional messages, such as "Happy Birthday," but Kiki enjoys the double meaning of words. An example is her new card, which says "It's About Dang Time." She says, "The card is referring to gay marriage but could be purchased and used in reference to myriad other events. I can say something subtle about our community in these cards and they go out into the general public." KiKi has identified as a lesbian since she was 19.
Her greeting cards with photographed license plate art are in the flagship stores of the popular Buc-ee's gas station chain and in over 50 shops around the state. Asked if she has any ambition to see the cards spread nationally, Kiki says, "I know my limits. I'm one person."
Kiki described her journey into the world of art as a sideways one. She spent her early years out of school working as a sales representative at a paper company, but she was always observing artists. "I've loved paper all of my life. I'm what they call a sideways artist. I stayed on the fringe of art but never participated. I was marinating," she says. Unfortunately, it took a three-pronged loss to put Kiki on her current and successful path as a license plate artist. First she lost her corporate job, then she lost her mom and dad and, finally, she was challenged with breast cancer. Kiki had been working with wood and larger objects but realized that since she was going through cancer treatment, she had to find lighter materials.
Besides her art, Kiki also prides herself on providing the space for several other artists to work in studio spaces that she offers for artists in need of space. "I am a great believer in a room of one's own," she says. "I'm a great believer in the idea that you need to take your art, go somewhere, do your art and then go home and have your home life. You still have to have your special place that's just for your art."
Although she grew up as part of the Houston elite, Kiki has forged her own path. Her father, Alfred R. Neumann, was the founding chancellor of the University of Houston, where the library is named after him, while her mother was a regular fundraising partner of Planned Parenthood and the Houston Symphony. "I have lost all pride. I've been humiliated, and it's been awkward, but I have to be streetwise and safe," Kiki says. She is known to show up at garage sales, dive in a ditch of discarded housing materials or sort through piles of trash while on her way to a formal event. "I'm accustomed to my good clothes having stains on them," Kiki sayswith a smile.
As for the future trajectory of her career, Kiki has an open mind. She has ideas for a book, hopes to continue on her biannual trips to the Original Round Top Antiques Fair and is open to other possibilities. Her main goal is to stay true to her personal philosophy: "Something out of nothing is something."
For more about Kiki and her art, check out her website Kiki Neumann Creations
By Jenn Haight
In a move acknowledging the importance of Houston's equal rights ordinance and those fighting for its implementation, Pride Houston announced this week the theme of its 2015 celebration will be Heroes!
At a kickoff event at Guava Lamp lounge on Thursday, Pride unveiled the theme and the logo for the celebration happening in June, the organization's first Downtown. In the fall Pride announced it was relocating the festival and parade from Montrose to Downtown.
The organization also announced the 2015 grand marshal nominees:
Ally nominees: Anna Eastmann (HISD Trustee) and Jared Lang (Founder of Fashion Houston)
Female nominees: Tamira "Augie" Augustine (Co-founder Epsilon XI Gamma Inc.), Britt Kornmann (HRC Board of Directors) and Fran Watson (Board member of Houston GLBT Political Caucus and Stonewall Law Association of Greater Houston)
Male nominees: Bob Briddick (Board member of OutReach United) and Ryan Levy (HRC Board of Directors).
Grand marshal voting is now open.
In May, the Houston City Council passed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which protects city residents from discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, religion and other characteristics. An unprecedented show of support from the city's LGBT community and allies overwhelmed City Hall during the debate. Groups opposed to the ordinance are trying to put the issue to voters and a trial is underway over the repeal effort.
Chef Greg Martin is living his dream. After years of working in the food and restaurant industry, he is now at the helm of a business of his own design, Bistro Menil.
"I never wanted to do any restaurant until I really felt that we had something interesting enough and compelling enough that people would want to go," Martin says. He approached the creation of Bistro Menil knowing exactly what he wanted it to be. "We asked ourselves, what is it that compels people to come to your restaurant?"
Inspired from trips around the world with his partner, Paul, he wanted to create an open, bright space with clean lines that would accentuate the views of Menil Park and provide an easy, high quality menu.
"Everything we serve here, I can print the recipe and hand it to the guest. I wanted that kind of approachability. Non-fussy food," Martin explains.
The menu includes pizzas, burgers and numerous dessert options. The most popular items on the menu are eggplant fries with brava sauce, duck confit, warm quinoa salad and crab cakes. "The menu is really big and has a whole lot of variety on it so that everyone can find something."
Martin has always had a passion for wine and made sure the menu he selected complimented both wine and craft beers. Bistro Menil offers cask wine and beer growlers alongside traditional bottle and by-the-glass options. The former allows customers to bring beer and wine home with them, or they can carry it to the patio or park beside the restaurant.
Martin and his partner in life and business, Paul, took advantage of even the most miniscule details to remind restaurant visitors that they‘re dining at a classic bistro. "We deliberately didn't have a tablecloth; we deliberately wanted to have a simple white napkin. This flatware pattern, this is from the 1930s. You still go to a bistro in France and see this pattern," Martin shared.
Even with careful planning and preparation there were some unexpected bumps when Bistro Menil first opened in fall of 2014. The staff is responding to comments from critics and non-critics by making changes to some aspects of the business while keeping true to their original vision. The restaurant is preparing for a big reset in mid February which will include a new spring menu along with a complete redo of the wine list and the wine program. According to Martin, the new wine list will be more accessible for customers. Martin was also bothered by the noise volume in the restaurant but didn't want to change the dynamic too dramatically.
"In Paris, a bistro is a lively place. We're a bistro," he says. "We want people to just walk by, come in and have a glass of wine or dessert." A new acoustical treatment is already in place to address the noise issue without compromising Martin's attempt to bring a European-style bistro to the Menil.
The Menil Collection is an award winning art museum that attracts visitors from around the globe. Martin and Paul hope to be able to say the same of their restaurant, which happens to be located on The Menil Collection's campus. "This is going to be an institution...people want to like it," Martin says. With their dedication and passion Bistro Menil promises to hold a steady footing in Houston's restaurant scene.
By Jenn Haight
Houston's Pride festival and parade, the culmination of more than a week's worth of parties and special events in June, with move to a new location and a new weekend in 2015.
Pride Houston announced today that the parade and festival will relocate to Downtown next June. The festival will surround City Hall and Tranquility Park while the parade will march down a roughly half mile L-shaped route beginning at Walker and Milam streets. Also the date will move to June 20, the second to last weekend in June instead of the final weekend in June as it has been previously. The final weekend is the traditional date for pride celebrations, commemorating the date of the Stonewall Riots that began the LGBT movement.
Organizers say the move from Montrose to Downtown allows for expansion of the festival and increased safety for attendees. It will also offer increased parking opportunities unavailable in Montrose and closer proximity to hotels for out-of-town participants. Other possible elements in the works are a giant disco ball over the parade route, additional viewing bleachers and a fireworks display following the end of the parade.
Click here to read more about the reasons for the move and a FAQ. There are also details on the new route.
Where's the party in Houston?
If an analysis of recent alcohol sales at the city's gay bars is any indication, the big gay party is at F Bar and JR's these days. The two bars have run neck and neck for the top spot among LGBT watering holes in recent months.
We averaged citywide mixed beverage sales reports from the Texas Comptroller's Office for 19 gay bars in the months of May, June and July.
When we last looked at these reports a year ago, the Montrose stalwart JR's was No. 1, followed by F Bar, which opened in 2011, and Blur Bar, the two-story dance club next door to JR's. The most recent three-month average shows F Bar inching ahead of JR's, with Blur still coming in at No. 3. A year ago, Meteor and South Beach rounded out the top five, respectively. Now, Meteor has fallen to fifth place with Crocker Bar taking over the No. 4 position.
It's important to note that some of the bars are only open a few days a week and all have different operating hours. This analysis simply looks at average sales volume over a three-month period that included June -- Pride month.
Three bars that were around a year ago -- The Usual, 611 and Venus Nightclub -- have since closed. Pearl Lounge on Washington also came under new ownership during that time and began catering to the LGBT community. And Eagle Houston, which had been located Downtown, relocated to the former 611 space in Montrose (Eagle's sales average below covers less than two months since the bar opened).
This list ranks the city's LGBT establishments by average sales tax receipts over the three-month period ending July 31. We've included the number of days each week the establishments are open for comparison purposes.
1. F Bar - 6 days a week
2. JR's - 7 days a week
3. Blur Bar - 5 days a week
4. Crocker - 7 days a week
5. Meteor - 4 days a week
6. TC's - 7 days a week
7. Tony's Corner Pocket - 7 days a week
8. Guava Lamp - 7 days a week
9. South Beach - 4 days a week
10. George Country Sports Bar - 7 days a week
11. Neon Boots Dancehall & Saloon - 5 days a week
12. Bayou City Bar & Grill - 7 days a week
13. Pearl Lounge - 7 days a week
14. Montrose Mining Co. - 5 days a week
15. Ripcord - 7 days a week
16. Michael's Outpost - 7 days a week
17. Thirteen - 7 days a week
18. Viviana's Nite Club - 3 days a week
19. Eagle Houston * - 7 days a week
* Eagle Houston was open less than two months of the three months examined
Following a couple months of downtime, Eagle Houston has opened its doors once again, this time in Montrose.
The bar formerly located in north Downtown took over the space at 611 Hyde Park Avenue, close to the Pacific Street strip. The spot has been completely renovated and includes a large, dual-level patio with a great second-floor perch perfect for watching the action below. The interior is well-lit with plenty of neon lights and a small dancefloor. There's even a leather/gift shop stocked with items to make your evening a little more interesting.
The new Eagle is a solid mix of neighborhood bar and fetish/leather hangout. Daily drink specials, attractive bartenders and regular theme nights are making this a new destination on the Montrose circuit.
Joey Garza and Jaime Loera want you to show your pride in Houston. And they'd really love it if you wore one of their t-shirts to do it.
The local duo's small apparel company, Joey & Jaime, showcases unique designs that speak to the dynamics of Houston, from the city's skyline and neighborhoods in the pattern of an "H" to spots that are quintessentially H-Town like the Astrodome. Those designs are quickly catching on among Houstonians looking to show their love and support for the city.
The company's slogan is "Bringing Houston together one tee at a time" and Garza and Loera tell the Houston Press their designs are intended to help Houstonians - natives and transplants - find commonality. "No matter where you're from, you're here now, why not show you're proud of the city?" Loera tells the Press.
It's that kind of attitude that landed Joey & Jaime on the Press' 2014 list of 100 Creatives. The list showcases locals, from photographers and dressmakers to tattoo artists and game creators, who comprise Houston's creative community.
"We visit lots of other cities like Austin, San Antonio and New Orleans," Garza told the Press. "We see where everyone is so proud of their city. We're proud of Houston so we try to figure out how to put that pride on T-shirts."
Shop Joey & Jaime's designs here and learn more about them and the company via the Houston Press.
It can't be easy acting for 90 minutes straight in front of a live audience. Throw in the detail that you're not just speaking your lines but rather singing every word, and the rock musical Murder Ballad becomes a true tour de force for a quartet cast.
On the heels of its New York City run, Murder Ballad's national regional premiere with TUTS Underground this month is garnering a lot of attention. The evocative story of a love triangle gone homicidal is at times funny, at times raucous and often downright titillating.
Let's get one thing straight from the beginning. Houston native Kristin Warren as the narrator is the star of this show. Each member of the four-person cast brings different strengths and tremendous vigor to their role. But frankly none has the raw talent of Warren, who adeptly renders her character's devilish, fly-on-the-wall part with an explosive singing voice.
Warren as the narrator introduces us to Sara (Lauren Molina), an impressionable millennial living in New York City and her boyfriend Tom (Steel Burkhardt) a young bar owner. Theirs is a relationship clearly built around physicality, but when Tom's playboy tendencies become too much for Sara, she bolts. Enter the less volatile Michael (Pat McRoberts), a professional with aspirations to settle down, who proves to be just what Sara needs. Marriage and a kid soon follow, and the years pass quickly on stage. Soon Sara finds her staid, quiet life on the Upper West Side isn't enough and she goes looking for the excitement she once had in Tom.
Complications ensue, as they often do in such situations. But arguably the most compelling element of Murder Ballad is just how common such situations really are. The "grass is always greener" theme of the tale is something we all struggle with, to varying degrees. Sure this relationship is solid, but is it enough? Yes, this job is a good one, but do I want more out of my career? The fact that Tom, Sara and Michael's particular predicament ends with a bloody bat makes it fantastic theater. But as the actors tell us in comic styling at the end, it's a cautionary tale that should be heeded.
Murder Ballad is the second-to-last performance in the inaugural year of TUTS Underground. So far, the new, more immersive experience is proving a successful venture for Theater Under the Stars. In the case of Murder Ballad, the set is actually a working bar, where guests can grab a cocktail and even play a round of pool before the show starts. Some guests are even invited to watch the action from tables set up on stage, as if they're patrons in the bar itself. The intimate experience brings us that much closer to the cast, allowing us to see details of their interactions that would be lost in a larger staging. TUTS Underground is certainly on to something.
Murder Ballad has five more performances through Sunday. Click here to get two tickets for the price of one!