FeaturesGayest & Greatest 2021

Gayest & Greatest 2021: Community

Houston Gaymers looks forward to resuming in-person events.

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Jeffery Huynh

Favorite LGBTQ Social Organization

Up, down, left, right, double tap—these are the key movements to use when playing video games. One local gaming group has also been ‘double-tapping’ on queer locals, who voted the Houston Gaymers this year’s Gayest & Greatest Favorite LGBTQ Social Organization.

“We are ecstatic,” says Jeffery Huynh, the organization’s vice president. “We have been around for a long time, and have members who have been with us since the beginning. Each year our membership keeps increasing, [so] we have a tendency to just hop from one event to the next [without] taking time to think about our impact on the community. We do everything for our members, and this really helps put into perspective how much we help our community.”

Founded by Eric Husley in 2009, Houston Gaymers has become a common ground where queer introverts and nerds can gather and socialize. It’s a setting that allows gamers to mix and mingle by exploring common interests.

“The main appeal to the people that come to our events is to socialize. It’s not just games; there are plenty of other activities to be passionate about,” Huynh says. “We create a safe space where the LGBT community can mix and socialize while enjoying video games.”

While gaming is a key part of the organization, Houston Gaymers also believes in giving back to the community. Project Blue Shell, the group’s official charitable operation, sends custom boxes containing a Nintendo 2DS, a copy of Mario Kart, and one other video game to children’s hospitals, nursing homes, women’s shelters, veterans organizations, and more.

Huynh says the group will soon expand their outreach efforts with a new community-focused gathering called Project Level Up. The quarterly events will offer resources to folks through workshops and seminars. 

“The first one we conducted was about preparing for a job,” Huyhn explains. “We taught how to build a résumé, provided headshots, had mock interviews available, and had human-resource professionals give advice on how to elevate your résumé. Our next one will be held in November, when we will be talking about mental health.” 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, Houston Gaymers hosted three or four in-person events per month. The festivities included intimate game nights at restaurants, movie screenings, drag contests, mixers, and charity events. As the group’s name suggests, video games were usually part of the mix. The Gaymers are currently only hosting outdoor and online events until COVID-19 infection levels drop enough for indoor events to safely resume.

Huynh says his experience being a part of the Houston Gaymers has been “life changing.”

“Before I joined the organization, my husband and I didn’t know anyone in Houston,” he remembers. “A friend recommended [attending] an event. Everyone was really inviting; I had people coming up that introduced me to others and let me try different games. It was different from anything I had ever experienced. It was life-changing for me.” 

For more info, visit houstongaymers.com.


COMMUNITY

Best Political Advocacy Group

Houston LGBTQ+ Political Caucus
Finalists: Equality Texas, Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Human Rights Campaign, Transgender Education Network

Favorite LGBTQ Philanthropic Organization

The Montrose Center
Finalists: Bunnies on the Bayou, Out for Education, Save Our Sisters

Favorite LGBTQ Benefit Event of the Year

AIDS Walk Houston
Finalists: Houston LGBTQ+ Political Caucus Equality Brunch, Houston Transgender Unity Banquet, Mint Julep, Out for Good

Favorite LGBTQ Social Organization

Houston Gaymers
Finalists: Diana Foundation, Executive & Professional Association of Houston (EPAH), Hatch Youth, The LGBT Marriage Club

Favorite Local LGBTQ Community Organization

Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce 
Finalists: Pride Houston, Pride Pantry, Trans Ally Collective

Best Local Corporate LGBTQ Diversity Group

Chevron PRIDE
Finalists: Accenture, Amegy Bank, MD Anderson, Shell

Favorite LGBTQ Sports Club

Montrose Softball League Association
Finalists: Houston Hurricanes, Houston Tennis Club, Lone Star Volleyball

Favorite HIV/AIDS Support Organization

AIDS Foundation Houston
Finalists: Avenue 360 Health & Wellness, Legacy Community Health, The Montrose Center, PWA Holiday Charities, Positive Women’s Network

Favorite National LGBTQ Organization

Lambda Legal
Finalists: Human Rights Campaign, National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Victory Fund

Favorite Local College or University

University of Houston
Finalists: Houston Community College, Lone Star College, Rice University, Texas Southern University

Favorite Place to Take Your Out-of-Town Visitors

The Menil Collection
Finalists: Discovery Green, Eagle Houston, The Galleria, Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo

Favorite Place to Worship

Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church
Finalists: Bering Church, St. John’s UMC, St. Peter United UCC, Unity of Houston

Favorite Professional Sports Team

Houston Astros (tie), Houston Rockets (tie)
Finalists: Houston Dash, Houston Dynamo, Houston Texans

Local Business Most Supportive of the LGBTQ Community

BUDDY’S
Finalists: Amegy Bank, Eagle Houston, Mad Hat Maven, Pearl Bar, Silver Eagle Distributors, Tony’s Corner Pocket 

National Business Most Supportive of the LGBTQ Community

Target
Finalists: Anheuser-Busch, Chevron, Zions Bancorporation 

Best Local LGBTQ Website

JD Doyle Archives
Finalists: The Mahogany Project, OutSmart Magazine

Best National LGBTQ Website

JD Doyle Archives
Finalists: Huffington Post, Queerty, TransGriot


For a full list of winners, go here.

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

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Brandon Norvell

Brandon Norvell is a fall 2021 editorial intern for OutSmart Magazine.
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