Alley Theatre’s Deck the Trees event is an annual holiday tradition that will occur at the George R. Brown Convention Center this year. The display features 30 festive trees, one of which stands out among the rest. Covered in rainbows, Pride flags, and bright colors, Holland Vavra’s LGBTQ-themed “Equali-tree,” which is on display through January 3, is something truly special.
The local entrepreneur and actress, who is a fierce LGBTQ ally, created the tree three years ago to pay homage to Houston’s queer community and express her gratitude for how much they have helped her over the years. “Three years ago when I did my first tree for the Alley, it was the same exact tree. I’ve added a lot more specificity this year,” she says.
Vavra’s holiday tree features many pink and blue transgender Pride flags. She wanted to add more trans representation to her tree to celebrate her college friend’s trans daughter. She also displayed her tree at a Transgender Day of Remembrance event to honor the trans people who have been the victims of hate crimes.
Not only is every decoration handmade by Vavra, but she also put in many extra hours of hard work to make sure each ornament looked perfect. Vavra says she was the last person to finish her tree at the convention center when all of the decorators were working on their trees.
Vavra says her favorite ornaments on her Pride tree are the Ruth Bader Ginsburg pearl collars. “I have adored her for as long as I can remember, for all the activism she was about and the road she paved for so many people that I love, who have a better quality of life because of her. I was really quite pleased with how that turned out. You can see it from far away, too, which I was so excited about.”
Outside of holiday tree decorating and performing, Vavra has her own LGBTQ-friendly accessories business called Freddie & David: Bespoke Atelier, appropriately named to honor Freddie Mercury and David Bowie.
The business started after she made a bow tie for one of her friends with costume scraps from Stages Repertory Theatre. “I wanted to pay homage to the men in my life,” Vavra says.
Her unique bow ties and earrings are available on Etsy and at local markets. Vavra also sells clip-on earrings for local drag performers. “I’ve got some things for the ladies, I’ve got some things for the gents, and I’ve got some things for people who want to be whoever they want!”
On top of being a business owner, Vavra is a local actress who has been performing at Stages for nearly two decades. She recently appeared in the Stages’ production of Honky Tonk Laundry, which streamed live online due to the pandemic.
With two parents involved in show business, Vavra has always wanted to be an actress. She often jokes about being born into show business, and says if she ever decided to pursue a more “lucrative” career, her parents likely would have pushed her toward theater and acting.
Varva looks forward to the end of the pandemic when she can safely perform for audiences once again. “I think I speak for the majority of professional actors [when I say] that our souls are suffering by not being able to perform. It is something that we’ve chosen to do because we love it so much. I can say with some certainty that we’re all needing to be back on stage as soon as possible.”
Check out Vavra’s holiday Pride tree displayed in the front windows of the George R. Brown Convention Center (across from Discovery Green) through January 3. Learn more about Vavra’s business at etsy.com/shop/FreddieAndDavid.