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Gayest & Greatest 2018: People

Longtime LGBTQ ally Deborah Duncan to emcee Montrose Center gala.


Favorite Female TV Personality: Deborah Duncan

When a phone call comes from this year’s Gayest & Greatest Favorite Female (Community) TV Personality, her voice sounds familiar, but I can’t quite put a name to it. 

From a carpool line where she’s picking up her teenage son from school, she says, “I’ll give you three guesses: Halle Berry, Oprah Winfrey, or Deborah Duncan.” Of course it’s Deborah Duncan, the playful star of Great Day Houston on KHOU-TV, and our faithful ally since before she even knew there was an LGBTQ community. 

As a teenager at John Marshall High School in San Antonio, Duncan “knew there was something different” about a friend named Rusty, but she didn’t articulate his otherness as gay until the day some classmates ran to tell her that Rusty was getting beaten up. “Since I was the only black kid in class, I guess they thought I could fight. Rusty was always so kind and sweet. I said, ‘Are you friggin’ kidding me?’” Duncan ran and stopped the fight. “Fast-forward 15 years later, I was doing television in Dallas,” Duncan says, “and we featured the Turtle Creek Chorale,” which is primarily a gay men’s chorus. “They said, ‘Someone wants to say thank you,’” recalls Duncan, revealing that it was Rusty, who told her, “You saved my life.” 

Duncan later faced death herself when she was working in New York City and a brain aneurysm burst. “People prayed for me, and I got to hear all the nice things they say at your funeral, but without dying. It was a big wake-up call for me. God pointed me in the right direction, and I said, ‘Okay, I get it.’ For me, it comes down to what Martin Luther King Jr. said: ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’”

Duncan counts OutSmart readers as important members of the LGBTQ community— and just as we are everywhere, so is she. “I’m at an event almost any day,” she says. This month she plans to be at The Ballroom at Bayou Place to emcee the Montrose Center’s festive 2018 Out for Good Dinner on October 11.  

A graduate of the University of Texas, Duncan was selected as the honorary grand marshal for the 2015 Houston LGBT Pride Celebration. “That was a fun one,” she says, explaining that Houston’s 2015 Pride parade was held the day after the U.S. Supreme Court blessed same-sex marriage in a 5-4 ruling. For more on Duncan, visit 

—Don Maines

Best Female LGBTQ Business Person

Caryn Craig
Finalists: Sandra Bubbert, Julie Mabry, Jill Maxwell, Jenni Tran-Weaver, Tammi Wallace

Best Male LGBTQ Business Person

Mark DeLange
Finalists: John Donato, George Konar, Lane Lewis, Gerard O’Brien

Favorite Female (Commercial) Radio Personality

Sarah Pepper
Finalists: Lynn Beckwith, Christi Brooks, Roula Christie, Lauren Kelly

Favorite Male (Commercial) Radio Personality

Kevin “Special K” England
Finalists: Jason Cage, Al Farb

Favorite Female (Community) Radio Personality

Khaliah Guillory
Finalist: Judy Reeves

Favorite Male (Community) Radio Personality

Jack Valinski
Finalists: JD Doyle, Bryan Hlavinka

Favorite Female Community Hero

Fran Watson
Finalists: Julie Mabry, Toni Mascione, Melanie Pang

Favorite Male Community Hero

Don Gill
Finalists: Jacques Bourgeois, Angelina DM Trailz, Robert Vasquez

Favorite Trans Community Hero

Monica Roberts
Finalists: Alexis Melvin, Atlantis Narcisse, Lou Weaver

Favorite Female Community Photographer

Yvonne Tran
Finalist: Blu Velvet Photography

Favorite Male Community Photographer

Dalton DeHart
Finalists: Eric Edward Schell, Steven Tilotta

Favorite Female Local Politician

Kim Ogg
Finalists: Ellen Cohen, Sylvia Garcia

Favorite Male Local Politician

Sylvester Turner
Finalists: Garnet Coleman, Robert Gallegos, Mike Laster

Favorite Female TV Personality

Deborah Duncan

Favorite Male TV Personality

Frank Billingsley
Finalists: Ryan Korsgard, Derrick Shore

Favorite Male (Community) TV Personality

Ernie Manouse

Favorite LGBTQ Educator/Teacher

Charles Swan
Finalists: Joan Valladares, Clayton Younkin

Best LGBTQ Social Media Account

Randy Rainbow
Finalists: The Fab Femme, JD Doyle, MyGayHouston, Pride Portraits

Favorite Local LGBTQ Blogger

Monica Roberts
Finalist: The Fab Femme

Favorite National LGBTQ Blogger/Vlogger

Rich Lux
Finalists: Roberto Carrasco, JD Doyle

Leading Female Entertainer Fundraiser

Lady Shamu
Finalists: An’ Marie Gill, Angela Mercy

Leading Male Entertainer Fundraiser  

Domenic Cusano
Finalists: Sebastian Gutierrez, Craig Sanford, Angelina DM Trailz

Leading Female Fundraiser

Melissa Flories
Finalists: Felicia Gulihur, Sarah Tompkins Gutierrez, Chris Valk, Sallie Woodell, Carol Wyatt

Leading Male Fundraiser

Don Gill
Finalists: Nick Alvarado, Jacques Bourgeois, Sebastian Gutierrez, Gary Wood

Most Prominent Female LGBTQ Activist

Fran Watson
Finalists: Alexis Melvin, Melanie Pang, Monica Roberts

Most Prominent Male LGBTQ Activist

Ray Hill
Finalists: Jacques Bourgeois, Brad Pritchett, Eric Edward Schell, Ashton Woods

Most Prominent Trans Activist

Alexis Melvin
Finalists: Crimson Jordan,  Monica Roberts, Lou Weaver

Most Valuable Female Volunteer

Donna Junker
Finalists: Julie Mabry, Lo Roberts, Ana Sanchez, Fran Watson, Sallie Woodell

Most Valuable Male Volunteer

Domenic Cusano
Finalists: Jacques Bourgeois, Jeremy Fain, Don Gill, Brad Pritchett, Robert Vasquez


Don Maines

Donalevan Maines is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.
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