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Houston Native, Marjory Stoneman Grad and ‘Queer Eye’ Star Karamo Brown Headlines HRC Gala

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From staff reports

Houston native Karamo Brown, one of the “Fab 5” in Netflix’s popular television series Queer Eye, will headline the 21st Annual HRC Houston Gala on Saturday, April 7.Jussie Smollett (Empire, Sum of My Music) will present the HRC Visibility Award to Brown during the LGBTQ fundraiser at the Marriott Marquis.

“As an out and proud gay man, Karamo Brown is using his incredible talent and public visibility to raise awareness and find solutions to the unique challenges LGBTQ people face,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a news release. “We are honored to have him marching alongside us as a vocal champion for equality, and we are proud to honor Karamo Brown with the HRC Visibility Award at the 21st Annual HRC Houston Gala.”

Brown, who was born in Houston to Jamaican parents, came out at 15. He is a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and knew Aaron Feis—the football coach who was killed in the Parkland attack.

An LGBTQ advocate, Brown is best known as the “culture expert” in Netflix’s reboot of Queer Eye. He engages subjects in important cultural conversations that help them get to the core of understanding themselves, so they can relate to the world better.

Brown began his career in 2004 as a housemate on the hit MTV reality series The Real World,  becoming the first openly gay African-American in the history of reality TV. Shortly after the conclusion of  The Real World, Brown learned he had a nine-year-old biological child, whom he gained full custody of. He later left the spotlight to become a social worker and adopted his biological son’s half-brother.

Brown serves on the board for OutRight International, a leading international LGBTQ human rights organization dedicated to improving the lives of people who experience discrimination or abuse on the basis of their sexual orientation, sex characteristics, or gender identity. He also co-founded the non-profit organization, 6in10.org, which provides tailored mental health support for black gay and bisexual men in order to eradicate the six-in-10 HIV statistic plaguing this community. In 2016, Brown was invited by the Obama administration to work with the White House to create policy/ legislation to support LGBTQ youth and their allies after school hours.

Brown recently spoke at the HRC Equality Convention in Washington, DC, and joined Pulse Nightclub shooting survivors and family members to lead hundreds of HRC members and supporters in the #MarchforOurLives in the nation’s capital.

The HRC Visibility Award will be presented to Brown by Smollett, who is known for his groundbreaking role as tortured pop star, Jamal Lyon, in the mega-hit television series Empire. Smollett is also actively involved in numerous charities and community organizations. He was recently honored by the Black AIDS Institute with their “Heroes in the Struggle” award for truly making a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Smollett now sits on the board of the Black AIDS Institute, Sankofa.org, The Trayvon Martin Foundation, and the RuJohn Foundation, which supplies clothes, school materials and scholarships to children in Jamaica and the U.S. In 2016, he received the prestigious NAACP Chairman’s Award and in 2017 was honored by the AFL/CIO for his activism and using his platform to bring attention to civil rights and social justice causes.

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John Wright

John Wright is the editor of OutSmart magazine. He has spent two decades in the mainstream and LGBTQ media. Most recently, he served as senior editor of Dallas Voice, and covered LGBTQ issues in the state Legislature for The Texas Observer. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Wright earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Florida. He resides in the EaDo area of Houston, where he is currently remodeling a 1930s row house.
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