Gayest & Greatest 2021

Gayest & Greatest 2021: People Part I

Amir Diamond connects through the airwaves.

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Amir Diamond (courtesy photo)

Favorite Male (Commercial Radio) Personality

In spite of doing all he could to resist following in his parents’ footsteps and entering the radio business, Amir Diamond eventually landed behind the mic. And now, nearly 10 years later, his passion for connecting with the community as a visible Black gay radio host has made him one of Houston’s favorite radio voices. OutSmart readers voted him this year’s Gayest & Greatest Favorite Male (Commercial) Radio Personality. 

“Radio wasn’t my first choice; I kinda stumbled into it,” explains Diamond, who hosts The Afternoon Hustle on KTSU’s The Vibe channel. “I went to the University of Houston and majored in English education, but it wasn’t for me. Then I decided to try out theater education, and that didn’t work. Both of my parents are in radio, and since radio is essentially the theater of the mind, I decided to give it a try. It came natural for me. I have a passion for music and can talk about it for hours,” Diamond says.

As the natural entertainer made his moves to rise in the radio world, he knew he was on the right path after Queen B herself gave him a shout-out. As part of a college assignment, Diamond was conducting interviews at an awards ceremony for Beyoncé’s mom, Tina Knowles. Diamond spotted Beyoncé and made a “beeline” for the singer. “Everyone was asking for pictures, but I decided to ask for audio. She was like, ‘Oh, you a hustler, huh?’ She did a drop for me that said, ‘You’re listening to Amir Diamond—The Hustler.’ When Beyoncé called me ‘The Hustler,’ that let me know I was doing something right.” 

But the radio business is not always glitz and glam, and Diamond prefers it that way. “My favorite part is getting to learn about other peoples’ lives—not just celebrities,” he explains. “I have more fun interviewing and talking to everyday people. I love having callers on my show and talking about something fun—or getting to connect with them if they’re having a hard day.”

His influence transcends the airwaves and impacts the hearts and minds of his listeners. “Growing up, I felt lost. I had suicidal thoughts and there was nobody that I could look up to as a Black, queer role model. I always wished there were more people in entertainment that were more open with themselves,” he admits. “That’s always been my dream. I wanted to be that for somebody else. I have parents that message me and tell me that I’ve helped them be more accepting of LGBT folks. Or their children have come out to them and [the parents say] I’ve helped them to understand the LGBT+ community. It makes me feel good when [queer] kids, teens, and even grown people tell me I’m an inspiration, and that they feel comfortable with their sexuality.”

As for the next generation of radio personalities, Diamond encourages them to make moves and be authentically themselves, just like he did. “My advice for someone getting into the industry would be to do things your own way. Don’t wait on people to give you the opportunity.”

For more info, visit vibehouston.com.


PEOPLE PART I

Favorite Female Local Politician

Lina Hidalgo
Finalists: Ann Johnson, Abbie Kamin, Kim Ogg

Favorite Male Local Politician

Sylvester Turner
Finalists: Garnet Coleman, Alan Rosen, John Whitmire, Gene Wu

Best Female LGBTQ Business Person

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

Best Male LGBTQ Business Person

Mark DeLange (tie), Doug Smith (tie)
Finalists: Christopher Barry, John Donato, Greg Ramos, Mark Sparks

Best Nonbinary Business Person

Robin Mack
Finalists: Marley Morningstar, Chip Ware

Best LGBTQ Social-Media Account

JD Doyle (Facebook)
Finalists: Contrapoints, The Mahogany Project, Rainbow Community

Favorite Local LGBTQ Blogger

Travis Webb
Finalists: Sam Byrd, Joelle Bayya Uzuri

Favorite National LGBTQ Blogger/Vlogger

Barrett White
Finalists: Sam Byrd, Charlotte Clymer, Joelle Bayaa Uzuri

Favorite Male (Commercial) Radio Personality

Amir Diamond
Finalist: Kevin “Special K” England

Favorite Female (Commercial) Radio Personality

Sarah Pepper
Finalists: Karah Leigh, Roula

Favorite Male (Community) Radio Personality

Easton Santos
Finalists: Bryan Hlavinka, Jack Valinski

Favorite Male (Community) TV Personality

Ernie Manouse

Favorite Female (Community) Radio Personality

Tiffany Scales
Finalists: Judy Reeves, Chelsea Lerner

Favorite Male (Commercial) TV Personality

Frank Billingsley
Finalists: Eric Barajas, Blake Matthews, Derrick Shore

Favorite Female (Commercial) TV Personality

Miya Shay
Finalists: Deborah Duncan, Dominique Sachse, Courtney Zavala


For a full list of winners, go here.

This article appears in the October 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.

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Zachary McKenzie

Zachary McKenzie is a marketing professional and freelance writer in Houston, TX. He received his bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin in 2014 and has lived in Houston since. Zachary is a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters and enjoys spending his free time with friends, exploring the richness and diversity of Houston.
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