Kevin Nguyen is a man on the move. This year’s G&G Favorite Male Volunteer has lived in a lot of places—Clear Lake, Katy, Galveston, Houston proper, San Antonio, and New Jersey, all before graduating from Houston’s Spring Woods High School, attending Baylor University in Waco, and then earning a master’s degree in California. After he completed his studies, he spent a year working in Thailand and then eventually made his way back to H-town when he was offered a job as an academic advisor for the University of Houston.
Because he’s relocated so many times, he never got to experience Houston in his early 20s. Since he felt a little disconnected from Houston after living in so many places, he decided to reestablish himself within the city by volunteering to find out more about the offerings around town.
“I wanted to get more ingrained in the community. I got to experience gayborhoods in other states, but not in Houston. I got involved in UH and started seeing other opportunities [around the city], and went from there,” he says.
Opportunities came knocking after a friend nudged him to join him as a host for Bunnies on the Bayou.
“I loved it. There are a lot of outlets in the LGBTQ community. It snowballed from there,” he said. “Volunteering is cool because you can be a representative for the community and be engaged without getting too much into the politics of it. All these organizations are doing something to benefit Houston and the LGBT community.”
Other organizations that have depended on his stewardship are Mayor Turner’s LGBTQ Advisory Board, Pride Houston, The Victory Fund, Houston GLBT Political Caucus, and the Human Rights Campaign. Health causes also play an important role for this first-generation college student and biology major who had once considered medical school.
“I have a nephew who’s epileptic, so children’s issues and health issues are big for me, too. My sister works at Texas Children’s Hospital, so I have a soft spot for children,” he explains.
Nguyen advises that anyone can donate to a cause, and it’s not just their dollars and cents that count.
“There are plenty of [areas around town] where people need help. A lot of organizations look for donations of money, but they look for [people who can donate] time, as well. A volunteer’s time is a valuable resource that can [allow] the organization to focus on bigger and better projects. That’s why I volunteer,” he says. “Everyone’s heart is in the right place, and [everyone has] a talent that can be tapped into to make the organization better.”
This busy worker usually goes to bed around midnight and wakes up at 6:15 in the morning. In between racking up volunteer hours and assisting UH college students, he likes to unwind with friends.
“Through volunteering, I’ve made a lot of friends, and we hang out a lot,” he adds. “It’s good to have a support system so that it doesn’t feel as draining or exhausting. I’m able to survive with these encouraging and genuine friends.”
Houston may be the fourth-largest city, but its gay community still has a friendly small-town feel. Volunteering throughout the city has given Nguyen the chance to lend a helping hand, attend tony events, and make lasting friendships. —Sam Byrd
Most Prominent Female LGBTQ Activist
Fran Watson (tie), Lisa Madry (tie)
Finalists: Monica Roberts, Kandace Webber
Most Prominent Male LGBTQ Activist
Finalists: Harrison Guy, Vince Pryor, Ashton P. Woods
Most Prominent Trans Female Activist
Finalist: Dee Dee Watters
Most Prominent Trans Male Activist
Finalist: Ian Syder-Blake
Most Prominent Gender Non-Conforming Activist
Most Valuable Female Volunteer
Heather J. Taylor
Finalists: Sara Fernandez, Donna Junker, Jordan Mills, Lo Roberts, Sallie Woodell
Most Valuable Male Volunteer
Finalists: Jesse Crochet, Domenic Cusano, Jeremy Fain, Denis Kelly, Craig Sanford
Most Valuable Trans Female Volunteer
Finalist: Kymber DeVine
Most Valuable Trans Male Volunteer
Finalist: Richard Long
Most Valuable Gender Non-Conforming Volunteer
Finalist: Nashauba Patel
Best Female Veterinarian
Kristy Kyle (tie), Danielle Rosser (tie)
Finalist: Catherine Lang
Best Male Veterinarian
Finalists: Doug Hendrix, Larry White
Best Pet Emergency Care Center
Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists
Finalists: Sunset Animal Hospital, Urban Animal Veterinary Hospital
Best Pet Grooming Service
Aussie Pet Mobile – River Oaks (tie), The Dog House Pet Salon (tie)
Finalist: Molly’s Mutt House
Best Pet Food
Finalists: Blue Buffalo, Royal Canin
Best Pet Walking and Pet Sitting Service
George’s Pampered Paws
Finalist: Sit & Stay Awhile
Best Place to Adopt a Pet
PugHearts of Houston
Finalists: BARC Animal Shelterand Adoptions, Friends For Life
Best Place to Buy Pet Supplies
Finalists: Kriser’s Natural Pet, PetSmart