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Gayest & Greatest 2018: Community

Krewe of Olympus among nation’s largest LGBTQ Mardi Gras groups.

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The Krewe of Olympus, which originated in New Orleans, is part social group and part charitable organization.  

“The original founders in 1970 decided to create a gay Mardi Gras Krewe that would present a ball that was much more fun and had more outstanding costumes,” says Bill Jones-Walters, co-founder of the Houston-based Krewe of Olympus-Texas, Inc. 

He and his partner, Ben Jones-Walters, have been mainstays with the Houston organization since they created it in 1991. The New Orleans Krewe of Olympus, one of the largest predominantly gay Mardi Gras organizations in the United States, is preparing to celebrate its 49th ball. The principal goals of the Krewe are to promote theatrical and educational events that continue Mardi Gras traditions, and raise money for community charities. This year, the beneficiaries of the Texas Krewe’s generosity are the Montrose Center, Texas United Charities, and PWA Holiday Charities.

“We are so extremely honored, and thank the OutSmart voters,” Ben says. “I think they selected us because the Krewe does its best to bring something valuable, fun, and entertaining to the Houston community.”

Over the years, costumes at the ball have become a favorite tradition among members. The balls have themes and gender-nonspecific kings and queens. This year, the theme will be Cocktail Culture, and you never know how that will be interpreted. Ben says one of his favorite things about the Krewe is “the overwhelming joy of creating fantastic costumes for others to present at the ball.”

On October 14, the Krewe will host the Bitchy Witchy Brunch at the Montrose Center. The group also has a First Friday Happy Hour each month, and the Jones-Walterses said anyone who wants to get involved should visit their website, KreweOfOlympus.org, or email [email protected].  

“While we are a predominantly gay organization, we are open to anyone who wants to be part of who and what we are,” Bill says. “People can also attend our events throughout the year and get to know us.”

—Ryan Leach

Best Houston Corporate LGBTQ Diversity Group

Chevron
Finalists: AIG, Amegy Bank, BASF, Comcast, Shell, Wells Fargo

Best Local LGBTQ Website

OutSmart Magazine
Finalists: Houston LGBT History, My Gay Houston

Best National LGBTQ Website

JD Doyle Archives (HoustonLGBTHistory.org)

Best Political Advocacy Group

Human Rights Campaign
Finalists: Black Lives Matter, Equality Texas, Houston GLBT Political Caucus, LGBTQ Victory Fund

Favorite HIV/AIDS Support Organization

Legacy Community Health
Finalists: AIDS Foundation Houston, Bering Support Network, The Montrose Center, PWA Holiday Charities

Favorite LGBTQ Benefit Event of the Year

Bunnies on the Bayou
Finalists: ERSICSS Coronation, Houston Leather Pride, Krewe of Olympus Ball, Mint Julep, Pride Houston Parade & Festival

Favorite LGBTQ Philanthropic Organization

Winner to be announced at Gayest & Greatest reception on October 17
Finalists: Bunnies on the Bayou, Dalton DeHart Photographic Foundation, ERSICSS, Krewe of Olympus, Out for Education

Favorite LGBTQ Social Organization

Krewe of Olympus
Finalists: Bunnies on the Bayou, ERSICSS, Executive & Professional Association of Houston (EPAH), HATCH, Houston Gaymers

Favorite LGBTQ Sports Club

Montrose Softball League Association
Finalists: Houston Hurricanes, Houston Tennis Club, Lone Star Volleyball

Favorite Local College or University

University of Houston
Finalists: Houston Community College, Rice University, Texas Southern University

Favorite Local LGBTQ Community Organization

Krewe Of Olympus
Finalists: Bunnies on the Bayou, ERSICSS, Executive and Professional Association of Houston (EPAH), HATCH

Favorite National LGBTQ Organization

Human Rights Campaign
Finalists: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), LGBTQ Victory Fund

Favorite Place to Take Your Out-of-Town Visitors

Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo
Finalists: Discovery Green, The Galleria, Hamburger Mary’s, The Menil Collection

Favorite Place to Worship

Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church
Finalists: Bering Memorial UMC, Congregation Or Ami, Living Mosaic Montrose Church, Montrose Grace Place, Unity Church

Favorite Professional Sports Team

Houston Astros
Finalists: Houston Dash, Houston Dynamo, Houston Rockets, Houston SaberCats Rugby, Houston Texans

Local Business Most Supportive of the LGBT Community

Hamburger Mary’s
Finalists: Crocker Bar, Jenni’s Noodle House, JR’s Bar & Grill, Silver Eagle Distributors LP

National Business Most Supportive of the LGBT Community

Target
Finalists: Anheuser-Busch, Starbucks, Wells Fargo

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Ryan Leach

Ryan Leach is a frequent contributor to OutSmart magazine. Follow him on Medium at www.medium.com/@ryan_leach.
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