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Gayest & Greatest: People Part II

Rice University Professor Brian Riedel makes waves in and out of the classroom.

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Brian Riedel, Favorite Educator/Teacher

Teaching this semester’s methods course for Rice University’s Seminar and Practicum in Engaged Research is Dr. Brian Riedel, an openly gay man who is helping bridge the gap between the academic world and the larger Houston community.

“Rice hired me to start the [seminar practicum] to partner undergraduates with community nonprofits and collaboratively define a research project benefiting the organization’s clients,” Riedel says. “Part of what I do is help that [partnership] happen, connecting the students with the different nonprofits that we’ve come to work with over the last 12 years.”

Riedel first initiated the program when he began working at Rice University’s Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality (CSWGS) in 2008. Before that, Riedel worked as a health-education coordinator at Houston’s Montrose Center after earning his doctoral degree in anthropology from Rice. His experiences at these centers have built the foundation of Riedel’s research with Houston’s LGBTQ community.

“Working within the community constantly pushes me to learn something new,” Riedel says. “There are so many questions that I just wouldn’t be able to ask without these students and community members.”

Riedel is currently working on three projects studying male crossdressers’ life satisfaction, the history of over 400 queer businesses in Montrose, and the structural racism embedded in Houston’s historic red-light district. He cites the Houston Area Rainbow Collective History (ARCH) project, an archive of LGBTQ history founded with the help of other local activists, as his proudest collaboration in the city.

“Of all the things I have gotten to be a part of in Houston, ARCH is one of the ones that makes me proudest of what a community can do when it comes together, despite all of our varied obligations,” Riedel says. “That’s the kind of work universities are best positioned to do.”

When asked about what his dream class to teach would be, Riedel says he’s already taught it—just last year. The class was Rice’s first-ever transgender studies course that Riedel had pushed for.

“We got a bit of funding to bring in guest speakers from the community and offer them an honorarium for talking and reading student work,” Riedel says, again showing his aptitude for bridging the academic and local communities. “Learning from others’ real-life experiences has helped me become a better human, and if I can help connect other people to that gift, that’s what makes me happiest.”

In his spare time, Riedel enjoys attending Neon Boots’ country western dance lessons, watching a show at the Miller Outdoor Theatre, and watching Pose. “My husband and I cry in some capacity almost every episode,” he says. “I didn’t realize I’d get emotional right now, but I never thought I’d see a show like it.”

While Riedel says he is flattered to be named OutSmart’s Favorite Educator/Teacher, he points out that his motivation for teaching comes from his students. Throughout his career, his favorite moments stem from watching students come into their own as they share their thoughts with others.

“There’s very little I do to create a space, except to just be myself and encourage others to do the same,” Riedel says. “So when someone gets to try something new and share something that might change what other people think, do, or believe in that space, that’s the kind of moment I live for.” —Martin Gonzalez

Best Female LGBTQ Business Person

Tammi Wallace
Finalists: Caryn Craig, Julie Mabry, Heather J. Taylor

Best Male LGBTQ Business Person

Mark DeLange
Finalists: Charles Armstrong, Bill Baldwin, John Donato, Tony Vacarro

JD Doyle

Best LGBTQ Social Media Account

JD Doyle
Finalists: Shelby Jeffcoat-del Busto, Steven Tilotta Transform Houston

Favorite Female (Commercial) Radio Personality

Sarah Pepper
Finalists: Roula Christie, Carmen Contreras, Lauren Kelly, Erica Rico

Favorite Male (Commercial) Radio Personality

Kevin “Special K” England

Favorite Female(Community) Radio Personality

Judy Reeves
Finalist: Jenifer Rene Pool

Favorite Male (Community) Radio Personality

Bryan Hlavinka
Finalists: JD Doyle, Jack Valinski

Favorite Female Community Photographer

Yvonne Feece-Tran
Finalist: Trish Badger

Favorite Male Community Photographer

Dalton DeHart
Finalists: Eric Edward Schell, Steven Tilotta, Angelo S. Ortiz Vela

Favorite Female Local Politician

Ellen Cohen
Finalists: Amanda Edwards, Lizzie Fletcher, Shelley Kennedy

Favorite Male Local Politician

Sylvester Turner
Finalists: Garnet Coleman, Rodney Ellis, John Whitmire

Favorite Female TV Personality

Deborah Duncan
Finalists: Melanie Lawson, Dominique Sachse, Miya Shay

Favorite Male (Commercial) TV Personality

Frank Billingsley
Finalists: Eric Barajas, Osvaldo Corral, Derrick Shore

Favorite Male (Community) TV Personality

Ernie Manouse

Favorite LGBTQ Educator/Teacher

Brian Riedel
Finalists: Brandon Hevey, Bryant Johnson-Wood

Favorite Local LGBTQ Blogger

Joey Guerra
Finalists: Ian Haddock, Monica Roberts

Favorite Female Community Hero

Fran Watson
Finalists: Donna Junker, Sandy Stacy, Kendra Walker, Tammi Wallace

Favorite Male Community Hero

Dalton DeHart
Finalists: JD Doyle, Harrison Guy, Craig Sanford

Favorite Trans Male Community Hero

Emmett Schelling
Finalists: Ian Syder-Blake, Lou Weaver

Monica Roberts

Favorite Trans Female Community Hero

Monica Roberts
Finalists: Phyllis Frye, Atlantis Narcisse, Dee Dee Watters

Favorite National LGBTQ Blogger/Vlogger

Monica Roberts
Finalists: It Gets Better Project, Randy Rainbow

Leading Female Fundraiser

Annise Parker
Finalists: Melissa Flories, Donna Junker, Sallie Woodell

Leading Male Fundraiser

Kennedy Loftin (tie), Craig Sanford (tie)
Finalists: Don Gill, David Goldberg, Tim Stokes, Tanner Williams

Leading Trans Female Fundraiser

Alexis Nicole Whitney
Finalist: Kymber Devine

Leading Trans Male Fundraiser

Ian Syder-Blake
Finalist: Sebastian Gutierrez

Leading Gender Non-Conforming Fundraiser

Mike Webb

Leading Female (Entertainer) Fundraiser

Lady Shamu
Finalists: Regina Dane, An’Marie Gill

Leading Male (Entertainer) Fundraiser

Domenic Cusano
Finalists: Michael G. Clayton, Craig Sanford, Travis Webb

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Martin Giron

Martin Giron is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine. He is currently pursuing his doctoral degree in sociology at Rice University.

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