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A Pop-Up of Color

Instagram-worthy art installation hosts a series of LGBTQ Houston events.

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With fashionably dressed drag queens entertaining the crowds, guests at The FOMO Factory had the chance to leave the real world behind them and take a nostalgic journey through their youthful days of childhood.

Eight “queens” and two “kings” entertained attendees in more than 15 rooms at the gay-focused Thankfully Proud event on November 21 at The FOMO Factory, an immersive art venue in The Galleria that specializes in art installations focused on childhood memories. The ongoing LGBTQ art series has drawn support from corporate sponsors including Sephora and Lush Cosmetics. 

Performers on hand at the art show included drag acts Mistress Isabelle, Athena Sapphire, and Ivanna D. Jackson. The themes of the curated rooms include a first birthday party, the first day of school, a school science lab, and a skateboard graffiti room.

Owner Brian Lenehan says that he wants the art space to offer an artistic outlet for the LGBTQ community going forward. “We really want to showcase to the community that we are an open and accepting place to be free, let loose, and be true to who you are.” 

Athena Sapphire

Lenehan notes that all of the interactive FOMO Factory events are a means to step away from the responsibilities of the modern adult world and feel at ease. “It is a place to share powerful experiences with others. We believe it is the perfect venue.”

Putting a beautiful spotlight on the LGBTQ community and allowing others to find artistic inspiration at The FOMO Factory is incredibly important to Lenehan.

The LGBTQ community has been undervalued in the past, and it is hoped that this installation concept could be a monthly version of Pride, FOMO coordinator Serafin Gonzalez notes. “Why have just one month in general to celebrate when we can have a whole event whenever we want? With another gay-themed show scheduled for December, hopefully even more guests can check the venue out, given the community support and reaction to the November event.

“We are just really excited for this one,” Gonzalez says. “Being an adult does not mean having to be so serious about life. It is not [every day] that you get to come out and enjoy a drag show. You can just come and enjoy interacting with the community.”

FOMO General Manager Ashley Thomas explains that while the November 21 event was just the first of many gay-themed shows, the installations can speak to all kinds of groups, no matter their sexual orientation. “The original owner of The FOMO Factory made this space for people to either enjoy childhood again or have the opportunity to make new memories,” she notes. “A lot of people who come in may not have had the circumstances to make the childhood memories they wish they had. This is a great chance to have a redo. Guests can remake memories as an adult at The FOMO Factory, as well as bring their kids along to join in on the fun. Everybody that comes in is really important to us,” Thomas says.

Thomas realizes that members of the LGBTQ community may have been bullied growing up, or experienced a challenging childhood—one of several reasons why the event originated in the first place. “This community is really important to us. A lot of our staff kind of relates to those situations that have happened, so we wanted to really bring all of that together.”

The events are also a uniquely artistic way to build relationships, both for the public and the employees at The FOMO Factory.

“We have so many different artists inside of our little group of employees, and to be able to work with bigger artists is really, really fun for them,” Thomas says.

Taking The FOMO Factory and turning it into a sort of safe haven is a significant goal for Lenehan.

“It is something we really stand for. I think it can be very powerful.”

For more information and a schedule of upcoming FOMO Factory events, go to thefomofactory.com.

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

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Connor Behrens

Connor Behrens is a communications graduate from the University of Houston. He has written for the Washington Post, Community Impact Newspaper and the Galveston County Daily News (the oldest newspaper in Texas). When he's not writing stories, he is likely watching the latest new release at the movie theater.

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