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A Look Back at OutSmart’s 2022 Editions

Several local LGBTQ community members made waves nationally.

Well, we made it. 2022 is almost a wrap—and what a year it’s been! To say it’s been a roller coaster ride is putting it mildly. Just in the last few weeks alone, we experienced the darkest low, with the horrific massacre at Club Q in Colorado Springs, and the remarkable political high of President Biden signing the bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act. 

On the local level, there were just as many ebbs and flows. Texas’ Republican lawmakers relentlessly targeted queer folks with their anti-LGBTQ policy proposals, while members of our community had more important work to do—groundbreaking research, competing in international sports tournaments, and becoming national television stars. Read on for an inspiring look back at the lives of these LGBTQ Houstonians in 2022. 

Photo by Victor Contreras

January: Medical Milestone

We started the year off with news about a game-changing HIV prevention drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration—a long-acting injectable form of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) that can be administered every two months. Our January cover star, out UTHealth researcher Jonatan Gioia, had been working locally for over four years on the international study that confirmed the effectiveness of the world’s first injectable PrEP treatment. 

Our annual health-and-wellness issue also featured six stories on local LGBTQ fitness gurus who helped motivate our readers to keep their New Year’s resolutions for a healthier 2022. Additionally, Sam Byrd’s Wigging Out column (which gives us the scoop on a local drag performer each month) gave us a double dose of fun with a two-page spread featuring identical-twin drag queens Tara and Kara Dion. 

Read the full issue here.

Photo by Jexse Studios

February: Space City Sweethearts

We kicked off “the month of love” by introducing you to four local queer duos who are navigating life together in Space City. Our cover stars, lesbian power couple Toni Mascione and Jacklyn Madrid, were preparing for their dream wedding at the time. The two have since gotten married. Other couples featured were husbands Cole Wehner and Brett Chynoweth, wives Barbara Ervin and Enita Torres, and spouses Ashleey Houston and Jose Suarez. 

Elsewhere in the issue, we prepared our readers for the Texas primary elections by spotlighting LGBTQ candidates who stepped up to ensure their community’s voice was being heard. Three of those candidates—Jolanda Jones, Porscha Natasha Brown, and Steve Duble—won their elections in November. 

Additionally, we celebrated Black History Month by honoring queer Black pioneers who paved the way for local LGBTQ visibility. One of those features spotlighted Larry Bagneris, the founder of Houston’s Pride parade and the first Black president of the Houston LGBTQ+ Political Caucus. 

Read the full issue here.

Photo by Erica Nix for OutSmart

March: Texas Tastemaker

In March, the highly-anticipated Houston-based season of Bravo’s Top Chef debuted. One contestant looking to take home the Top Chef title was our cover star, chef Jo Chan. The out Texan ranked in 10th place during the season, and continues serving up savory cuisine in Austin. 

Also in this issue, our pet feature highlighted a few out Houstonians who help us care for our furry friends—Brantley Highfill and Cris Steward (the couple behind BakedBones CBD dog treats), BARC staffer Cory Stottlemyer, CityPaws Grooming owner Dani Betancourt, Juno’s Hope Dog Rescue and Adoption founder Frank Atchley, and The Urban Vet’s Dr. Eric Cagle. 

Read the full issue here.

Photo by Julia Johnson

April: Unleashing Bronco

This edition of OutSmart marked the magazine’s 29th year in publishing. Thanks to our readers, supporters, and family of advertisers, OutSmart continues to bring you the latest LGBTQ happenings in Houston. Readers can also enjoy hearing about inspiring queer movers and shakers such as our April cover star, Orville Peck. The openly gay country star filled us in on his latest album, Bronco, ahead of his May performance in Houston.

The Normal Anomaly Inc.’s (TNA) Black Queer AF Music Festival was another musical highlight in April. We spoke with TNA founder and executive director Ian L. Haddock about this empowering event, in addition to festival headliners Durand Bernarr and Sevndeep. Writer Ryan Leach also sat down with event opener and closer DJ Rocabye. 

Read the full issue here.

Photo by Dimitri Hyacinthe

May: Cutting-Edge Couturier 

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, and OutSmart celebrated by honoring the local AAPI community. Cover star Bach Mai, a clothing designer putting Space City on the map, told us about his Houston upbringing, his fashion industry icons, and the future of his international brand. We also introduced you to popular drag artist Mulan Alexander, restaurant owner Charlie Huynh, optometrists Paul Lovero and Nancy Lo, Houston Ballet’s costume shop manager Zach Paugh, and queer literary magazine editor Addie Tsai.

Houston’s fine-arts scene was busy in May, so OutSmart highlighted a few events we didn’t want our readers to miss. Artist Kehinde Wiley’s historic portrait of President Barack Obama was on display at MFAH, and choreographer Trey McIntyre’s debuted a new Houston Ballet production. Artist Baseera Khan also showcased a summer exhibit at Moody Center for the Arts, and Justin Johnson brought his alter-ego Alyssa Edwards to Houston for a one-woman show.

Read the full issue here.

Photo by Victor Contreras for OutSmart

June: We Are Family 

In the June Pride edition of OutSmart, we honored local community members who have consistently embodied Pride in their day-to-day lives. Our cover stars from The LaRue Legacy have built a chosen drag family that’s as diverse as Houston. 

We also highlighted seven other out Houstonians who are making a mark on our city—Nancy Meyer, the Houston Chronicle’s first female and lesbian publisher; Joelle Bayaa-Uzuri Espeut, the first Black trans woman elected to the Houston LGBTQ+ Political Caucus board; Sunny Bryant, a 9-year-old trans girl who spoke out against the anti-trans bills last year; attorney Brian Klosterboer, who helped the ACLU of Texas temporarily block Governor Abbott’s assault on parents seeking medical care for their trans children; Latina leader Linda Morales; Discovery Green president Barry Mandel; and bisexual TikTok sensation Madeline the Person.

Pride Houston 365 co-presidents Thasia Madison and Kendra Walker talked to us about their organization’s first major Pride celebration since the pandemic. Also featured were the 2022 Pride parade grand marshals.

Read the full issue here.

Photo by Victor Contreras for OutSmart

July: It’s Game Time

Members of Houston’s own Space City Rugby, an all-inclusive team that was headed to Canada for a world-championship tournament in August, were featured on our July cover. While the team did not take home the first-place trophy, they still represented Houston well.

Elsewhere, our annual Galveston edition spotlighted a few of the many queer folks who make the Island a special place. Todd MacKenzie, owner of 23rd Street Station, talked to us about his inclusive Galveston piano bar. Kristen Maples, who runs Texas Scuba Adventures, taught us about the Island’s scuba-diving scene. Interior designers Mitchell Bage and Luis Santiago caught us up on their new business, Maison de Campagne, while restaurant owners Lena Pyles and Victoria Newsome let us taste their beachy bites at EATCetera. Then Galveston’s Own Farmers Market president Steven J. Baines caught us up on his Island activism, while musician Ezra Bordelon spoke about leading worship at the LGBTQ-affirming Galveston Central Church.

Read the full issue here.

Photo by Paty Ramirez-Sanchez

August: Soulful Sounds

To kick off our August music issue, we interviewed cover star Kam Franklin, the front woman of the Gulf Coast soul band The Suffers. Her upcoming solo album will show off her talent in a whole new light. We also sat down with opera singer and The Voice star John Holiday, pop artist Isaac Niaz, musician Geoffrey Muller, and rapper Uncle Tino.

Elsewhere in that issue, we spotlighted nonbinary and gender-nonconforming Houstonians in our Beyond the Binary feature. Among those featured were Kevin Nguyen, who was recently named the new director of the University of Houston’s LGBTQ Resource Center; Alex Whitney, who starred in a local reality dating show; and Frances Zuckerbrod, whose artwork was featured in a zine published by the national LGBTQ Jewish organization Keshet.

Read the full issue here.

Artwork by Trevon Latin

September: Sublime Tapestry 

The September Arts & Entertainment issue included local LGBTQ visual and performing artists who are making their mark on the art scene in Houston and beyond. New York transplant Trevon Latin’s creations are a reflection of his childhood in Space City. Multimedia artist Stephanie Gonzalez’s work explores the troubling times we’re living in. Comedian Julie Talbert uses her dark and sarcastic humor to entertain others. Alternative drag burlesque artist Eddie Divas enjoys breaking boundaries and defying expectations. 

To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we spotlighted a few of Houston’s Latinx leaders working to advance the LGBTQ community—local publications specialist Christina Ferraz, out playwright Fernando Dovalina, historic-preservation expert Gilbert Perez, queer Latinx bar owner Joann Garcia, nonprofit spearhead Elia Chinó, disability activist Gabe Cazares, and leaders of the LGBTQ Latinx group SOMOS LOUD.

Read the full issue here.

Photo by Frank Hernandez for OutSmart

October: Community Spotlight 

This October issue announced the winners of our 25th annual Gayest & Greatest Readers’ Choice Awards. This yearly celebration of Houston’s best and brightest has become a community tradition, thanks to our loyal family of readers and advertisers. 

We had an energetic contest this year, with more than 131,000 votes cast to decide the winners and finalists in 372 categories. Some of our perennial winners continued their winning streaks, while ambitious newcomers toppled a few old favorites. 

We profiled 17 of this year’s G&G winners, including cover star Landon Richie, a trans teenager who was named 2022’s Most Prominent Youth LGBTQ Activist. Also featured were Favorite Female Actress winner Christina Wells, Favorite Local Dancer winner Rivkah French, and Best Human-Rights Attorney winner Luis Ruiz. 

Read the full issue here.

Photo by Alex Webster

November: On Screen

The November 20 Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) observances memorializes members of the worldwide trans community who have been murdered as a result of transphobia. During the week prior, people and organizations around the world celebrate Transgender Awareness Week (TAW) to help raise visibility for trans folks and spread awareness of the issues faced by trans community members.   

The November issue of OutSmart honored TAW and TDOR by spotlighting trans Houstonians who are making their mark locally and beyond. Our cover star, Sis, a Black trans actress, plays Dunaway in FX’s American Horror Story: New York City. Phyllis Frye, Houston’s first transgender lawyer and judge who retires in January, reflected on her life journey that is documented in a new biography. And nonbinary Rice University researcher Madeline Smith-Johnson published a study revealing that trans adults are more likely to report suffering from a disability, compared to cisgender men and women. 

Read the full issue here.

Photo by Jesse Dittmar

December: Jim Parsons

We wrapped up the year with an exclusive interview with native Houstonian—and gay icon—Jim Parsons, who shared his experience starring in the new feature film Spoiler Alert. In his cover story, Parsons emphasized that working on the film, which is in theaters now, was one of the most rewarding experiences he’s ever had.

As is our holiday tradition, we also presented Dalton DeHart’s 2022 photo highlights showcasing the extraordinary diversity of our community. We also shared Ryan Leach’s annual list of things to leave in 2022 and things to keep for 2023. 

Read the full issue here.

To look back at all of OutSmart’s print editions, visit

Happy New Year!

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Greg Jeu

Greg Jeu is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of OutSmart Magazine.
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