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Partners in Progress

Galveston couple Danny and Christin Roe have created multiple LGBTQ social groups.

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DYNAMIC DUO: Activists Danny Roe (l) and his wife, Christin, co-organized multiple LGBTQ groups in Galveston. The pair is pictured at the June 5 unveiling of the island’s new Pride Crosswalk that Roe helped create (photo by Arturo Corral).

DANNY ROE

When Dallas-born and -bred Danny Roe moved to Galveston 10 years ago to attend the island’s Texas A&M University, he began to explore his gender identity and expression.

“College allowed me to break out of my shell and accept myself as a transgender man,” Roe recalls. “I was able to come out to everyone safely and unapologetically in Galveston. My experience inspired the work that I do there today.”

After graduating with a maritime-studies degree in 2013, Roe stayed on the island to advocate for LGBTQ issues. In addition to his full-time position as the assistant director for student diversity initiatives at his alma mater, Roe is heavily involved in several queer organizations, and is the founder and organizer of Trans Support Galveston and the LGBTQ Community Coffee Hour.

Trans Support Galveston launched in September 2017 to bring together the transgender community and create a support network. The group, which currently consists of about five active members, meets twice a month for public and private meetings at Access Care of Coastal Texas, a Galveston nonprofit for people affected by HIV/AIDS.

SUPPORTING THE CAUSE: When he was 19, Danny met his wife, Christin, at an LGBTQ Galveston bar. The two now work together as a team to strengthen the island’s queer community.

Roe says he answers messages sent to Trans Support Galveston’s Facebook page all day long to inform trans, gender-diverse, and questioning individuals south of Houston where to find healthcare and counseling. “Sometimes it feels like there’s not enough hours in the day,” Roe admits. “There never is for someone who wants to be out there on the field [helping others], but it gives my life a lot of passion and meaning.”

In the future, Roe hopes to mold Trans Support Galveston into a nonprofit that provides a network for all queer people. For now, he’s happy organizing the LGBTQ Community Coffee Hour every first Friday of the month at Mod Coffeehouse in downtown Galveston.

“While talking to some community members, we realized that the only place LGBTQ people were meeting each other was in bars,” Roe says. “There wasn’t a space for people with families, who are sober, or who just don’t want to be in a bar setting.”

A friend inspired Roe to ask the owner of Mod if a queer social event could be held at the shop, and she was delighted to host the gathering. Roe created a Facebook post for the event and expected only a handful of folks, but at least 28 people showed up.

“Since we thought our group would be small, we were given Mod’s tiny upstairs section,” Roe says, “but we had so many people, we were filing down the stairs.”

The LGBTQ Community Coffee Hour has met three times so far, with about the same number of attendees at each event. The group’s next meeting will take place at Mod on July 5 at 6 p.m.

Roe grew up in a conservative Dallas-area town, and he questioned everything. “My sexuality, my gender—everything” he says. “I didn’t know whether I could be myself, live with my family, and be happy being who I was.”

At Texas A&M Galveston, Roe became outspoken about LGBTQ issues and devoted much of his time to being a leader in the university’s student government and its Gender and Sexuality Advocates group. He also regularly visited the island’s queer bars, where he made many friends whom he now considers part of his “LGBTQ family.”

When he was 19, Roe went to a bar and met his wife, Christin. The couple now works together doing HIV prevention and treatment advocacy for Access Care of Coastal Texas, along with co-organizing Trans Support Galveston events. “My wife is a huge asset,” Roe says. “She’s my number one, and always by my side for everything.”

Roe’s latest LGBTQ project was creating Galveston’s rainbow-colored Pride Crosswalk, which he did in partnership with Trey Click, Steven Crietz, and several other activist individuals and organizations.

“I love Galveston, I love its people, and I love being a trans man who lives here,” Roe says. “I hope everybody gets a chance to experience our LGBTQ life, and I invite everybody to see what the island has in store for them.”

For more information about Trans Support Galveston or the LGBTQ Community Coffee Hour, visit facebook.com/TranssupportGalveston/

Galveston activist Christin Roe works to combat LGBTQ issues (courtesy photo).

CHRISTIN ROE

After she began to work in LGBTQ bars 10 years ago, Galveston native Christin Roe learned that several of her friends and family members were affected by HIV.

“I didn’t know a lot about the virus, but it was important to me to learn more about it,” Roe says. “I started volunteering at an HIV nonprofit and found a passion for it. I’m now in a place where I can educate others about prevention and care.”

Roe’s volunteering turned into a full-time position doing community outreach and free HIV testing at Access Care of Coastal Texas (ACCT), a Galveston organization that provides assistance to people with HIV/AIDS.

Over 300 Galveston residents were diagnosed with HIV in 2017, according to the latest HIV Surveillance Report. “When I talk to folks, I always stress that 20 percent of Americans living with HIV don’t know they have it,” Roe says. “Getting tested, knowing your status, and being educated about the illness is the best way to end stigma.”

A Life of Activism

Outside of her work at ACCT, Roe’s activism continues as an organizer for several LGBTQ groups, including Drag Queen Story Hour of Galveston and Trans Support Galveston.

Drag Queen Story Hour of Galveston, a program that features drag queens reading LGBTQ-affirming picture books to children, held its first event in June 2018. Roe says that the group has hosted five Drag Queen Story Hours so far, with audiences of about 15 children and their families.

A scene from a Drag Queen Story Hour of Galveston event in June 2018 (Facebook).

While similar storytimes have been controversial across the U.S., Galveston’s Drag Queen Story Hour has been met with only positive feedback. “[Galveston] is very diverse and accepting of LGBTQ people,” Roe says. “We were prepared for some pushback, but fortunately we didn’t experience any.  [In fact,] many parents have shared stories about how the story hours made their children understand the world better,” she adds, “or made them feel more comfortable living in their own skin. It’s a beautiful thing to see kids and their families enjoy the program.” 

Twice a month, Roe works alongside her husband, Danny, to facilitate Trans Support Galveston, a resource group for transgender individuals. Danny, a trans man, launched the organization in 2017 to assist trans folks and their families through both public and private meetings.

During the open meetings, Roe, a cisgender woman, acts as an ally and speaks with family and friends who accompany trans group members. “When there are enough allies around, we break into groups,” Roe says. “We sit down and discuss the issues that our trans loved ones face, and how we can better understand and assist them.”

Combating “Queer Erasure”

Roe identifies as pansexual, meaning that she is attracted to people regardless of their sex or gender identity. However, because her husband is trans and she is cis, Roe admits that it is frustrating when some people perceive her as straight.

“Because I’m married to a man, I am technically in a straight relationship,” Roe says, “but our relationship doesn’t take away from who we are individually.”

Like many LGBTQ folks, Roe recalls that it took time to explore different labels until she found one that suited her best. “I heard about pansexuality for the first time when I was about 23, and I adopted the label instantly,” Roe says. “I didn’t want to date people for any reason other than their personalities.”

Roe says when she tells folks that she is pansexual, many mistake it for meaning polyamory. “That’s obviously not the case,” Roe laughs. “Many people have never heard the word pansexual before. After I explain it to them, I usually get a more positive response.”

On the brighter side, Galveston’s queer community has welcomed Roe and her husband with open arms.

“LGBTQ life in Galveston is unlike any other place on earth,” Roe says. “We’re one big giant family, full of love and acceptance.”

For more information about the Access Care of Coastal Texas, accttexas.org. For more information about the Drag Queen Story Hour of Galveston, visit facebook.com/StoryHourGalveston

This article appears in the July 2019 edition of OutSmart magazine.

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Lourdes Zavaleta

Lourdes Zavaleta is the managing editor of OutSmart magazine.

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