Entertainment

One Member Of The Fab Five Is Cuban And We Can’t Get Enough Of Him

karamobrown / Instagram

If you don’t know who Karamo Brown is, prepare yourself for your next celebrity heartthrob. He first graced our televisions when he was just 23 years old on “The Real World: Philadelphia.” After a decade out of the spotlight, he’s back in our homes as one fifth of the Fab Five, in Netflix’s rebooted “Queer Eye.”

He’s hands down one of the most interesting, studliest, and sweetest of the Fab Five.

1. He’s Jamaican & Cuban.

CREDIT: @karamobrown / Instagram

Karamo was born in Houston, Texas, but has lived all over.

In a recent podcast with Johnathan Van Ness (AKA JVN), Brown opened up about his family history. His mother is Jamaican and his father is half Cuban, half Jamaican.

2. He’s the first openly gay black man to star on a reality TV show.

CREDIT: @karamobrown / Instagram

This was back in 2004, so it was a lot tougher to be openly gay. But Karamo slayed in “The Real World: Philadelphia,” and says that it was one of the hardest things he ever did.

The real gold: watching himself on TV and how he reacted to conflict. He says it changed him as a person.

3. After his MTV stint, he worked as a social worker for 10 years.

CREDIT: @karamobrown / Instagram

It wasn’t until one of his kids he was working with asked him if he’s following his dreams, that he realized he wasn’t. He decided to spend half his time in social work, and the other getting back into the public sphere.

His first job back out there? With Oprah. Casual.

4. He went from TV Host to Fab 5 of “Queer Eye.”

CREDIT: @queereye / Instagram

Each of the Fab Five carries expertise in either fashion, grooming, cooking, interior design, or culture. Karamo is known for working on the “inside job” of their clients, helping them find their confidence through aerial art, or getting through to a cop on why Black Lives Matter. Basically, you’re always crying happy tears when you’re watching this show.

Karamo’s dedication to his own inside job is inspo for all of us. His backstory is pretty incredible…

5. He watched his father destroy his family.

CREDIT: @karamobrown / Instagram

Brown grew up middle class, but when his father decided to quit accounting and become a DJ, they lost everything. In his own words, “Life went from nice, middle class, immigrant family, to like extremely poor, moving out in the middle of the night.”

6. “My drive comes from watching the decline and seeing my mother build us back up.”

CREDIT: @karamobrown / Instagram

He says that watching his father abuse his mother gave him this drive to be better, and be the best man he can be. He’s conscience of what he’s inherited from his father, like shutting down during conflict, and tries to change it.

7. Brown went to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

CREDIT: @karamobrown / Instagram

When his parents got divorced, his dad made him move from Texas. He said the one thing he did right was find the cheapest apartment in the school zone that would land him at Stoneman.

Caption: “The raised/ clenched fist is a salute to express unity, strength & resistance among oppressed people against any person or entity that would try to destroy the very fabric of human equality, respect & love. I raise & clench my fist to #Trump #Racism#SexualPredators #Misogynist and many more! You shall not win!”

8. “That school made me an activist.”

CREDIT: @karamobrown / Instagram

In his own words, “When the shooting happened, I wasn’t surprised that these students were like, “Enough is enough”, because activism is engrained in you from the first period of the first day of 9th grade.”

9. Karamo came out when he was 15 or 16 years old.

CREDIT: @karamobrown / Instagram

Caribbean culture, especially Jamaican culture is extremely homophobic, so his father had a hard time reconciling his religious beliefs with his son’s sexuality.

10. In 2007, he found out he’s a father!

CREDIT: @karamobrown / Instagram

Brown met Stephanie when he was 15 and they quickly became best friends…who also lost their virginity to each other. Over ten years later, he was served documents asking for child support. I mean, of course, Karamo stepped up and is a loving father. He later adopted his biological son’s half brother.

11. On May 10th, Karamo got engaged!

CREDIT: @karamobrown / Instagram

Caption: “Last night, in front of family & friends, I asked my best friend and the love of my life, “will you marry me?” He said YESSS!!!! I’m engaged!”

12. Karamo has been writing for The Advocate since 2014.

CREDIT: @karamobrown / Instagram

Can you tell he’s a huge advocate for the gays? Check him out with Stephanie Beatriz and Laith Ashley de la Cruz at Pride this year. You cute, boo.

13. This year, he won the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award!

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. On Top. 27 June 2018.

“As an out and proud gay man, Karamo Brown is using his incredible talent and public visibility to raise awareness and find solutions to the unique challenges LGBTQ people face,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a news release.

14. He even cofounded the nonprofit 6in10.

CREDIT: “Fist” Digital Image. Advocate. 28 June 2018.

As in 6 in every 10 gay or bisexual black men will test positive for HIV. 6in10 aims to reduce the stigma associated with HIV, and offer mental health resources for the LGBT community.

15. Oh, and he’s a low-key animal activist, too.

CREDIT: @karamobrown / Instagram

Caption: “Spending my morning cleaning, feeding & playing w/ rescued & humanely cared for elephants. #PleaseStopRidingThem🚳#ElephantsAreNotBuses #Thailand🇹🇭#WorldTraveler”

16. Karamo is the youngest of four sisters.

CREDIT: @karamobrown / Instagram

And with “Queer Eye,” he’s found himself another set of fabulous men that are like sisters to him.

 17. Karamo & JVN would have been prom King & Queen in high school…

CREDIT: @karamobrown / Instagram

According to themselves in JVN’s podcast episode, “Who gave you permission to be so cute? featuring Karamo Brown.” Karamo was a football player and JVN was a cheerleader and you *know* they would be cutest couple. For now, they’re the cutest best friends and I’m here for it.

18. As serious as he is about making changes in the world, he’s also a joker.

CREDIT: @karamobrown / Instagram

After Antoni posted a legit serious picture of himself in a bathrobe wearing non-prescription glasses with a cup of tea, every single one of the Fab Five posted their version mocking him.

Caption: “Well since you all asked what I was doing… ironically the same thing as @antoni @jvn & @bobbyberk Just relaxing at home with glasses that aren’t prescription, a tea mug that is empty, junk food and a plant in my bed.”

19. Ya boy’s a Scorpio–born on November 2nd.

CREDIT: @KaramoBrown / Twitter

Caption: “Thought I’d do a #ThrowbackThursday of my senior yearbook pic. I was 18 years old here. If I could tell my younger self one thing it would be “Stop letting people’s limited perspectives cause you to doubt yourself… you have a bright future ahead of you kid, just believe.””

20. He’s also an American Express Ambassador.

CREDIT: @karamobrown / Instagram

Ok, so it’s the least interesting thing about him, but now I want an AmEx to be even a little bit more like him.

Follow him @karamobrown on Twitter and Instagram for all the emotional support you’ll need in your life. ❤️ 🧡 💛 💚 💙 💜

Two Trans Latinas In New York Are Starting A Beauty Co-Op To Help Trans Women Build Their Businesses

Entertainment

Two Trans Latinas In New York Are Starting A Beauty Co-Op To Help Trans Women Build Their Businesses

mirror_cooperative_ / Instagram

Four years ago, Lesly Herrera Castillo and Joselyn Mendoza both had a vision to create a worker-owned makeup and hair salon for the trans Latino community in Jackson Heights, New York. It was ambitious and for them, it was necessary. For years, the duo faced racial and gender discrimination from employers. Their own community, Jackson Heights, was also becoming a problem as the area became the site of multiple anti-trans hate crimes in recent years. So they came together with a plan to open Mirror Beauty Cooperative in 2015.

The beauty shop would create numerous jobs for the local trans community but more importantly assist undocumented individuals who were denied opportunities due to their legal status. So Castillo and Mendoza made the important decision to register the business as a cooperative cooperation (co-op). This was done so the salon would basically be “worker-run” and there would be no need for things like social security numbers, an obstacle many undocumented workers face when applying to jobs. Instead, the salon will use individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITINs).

“The significance of the cooperative for me is that it’s an opportunity to create more jobs and make a space that’s free of discrimination,” Mendoza told the HuffPost. “As trans women, we don’t often have access to a healthy economy, and this allows us to change that and obtain other services like health care.”

While their idea started four years ago, the duo hasn’t yet obtained a physical space to open up the salon. But they hope with enough support this vision can become a reality. 

Credit: @equalityfed / Twitter

While both Castillo and Mendoza haven’t opened up a physical salon space, they are both continuing to work in other salons as they continue to save and plan for the Mirror Beauty Cooperative. This past May they began to reach out to more people to help fund their goal through a GoFundMe Campaign. The results of the campaign fund have been less than 1 percent of their $150,000 goal. The duo has also faced other socioeconomic setbacks like lack of traditional education and the economic instability due to their immigrant background. 

“Latina trans women always have multiple obstacles in the way,” Mendoza said. “I think if a collective of white trans women were to start a project like this, their incubation process would be faster than ours because of their historical access to privilege.” 

But Herrera notes that the white trans community is still an ally to them even though they are on different economic levels. “We can always depend on the white trans community” to offer support “because they know they’re on a better [economic] level.”

For the trans, gender-queer and nonbinary community, job discrimination has been a reoccurring issue. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 16 percent of gender-queer and nonbinary respondents who had held jobs reported having been fired for their gender identity or expression. But for trans women and trans people of color, they were the most likely to have gone through this. 

While the salon is still in progress, Castillo and Mendoza have become a presence in their own neighborhood uplifting and bringing attention to the trans Latino community. 

As of now, the duo has a secret backup plan in case they don’t meet their fundraising goals by the end of the year. They hope that the campaign does one thing though, create and share their broader call for building community with people. 

That has already started to take place as Castillo, Hernandez and their new partner, Jonahi Rosa have all become presences in Jackson Heights advocating for the trans community. The trio even participated in the Queens Pride Parade as co-grand marshals. This has also included various charity events for local LGTBQ+ youth. 

They all feel that the salon has the potential to bring people together and spread awareness about issues that affect their lives every day. From the start, the trio has always wanted to not only create a space for the trans community but give them an opportunity. 

“We want to work, [and] we want to give agency to our community,” Rosa said. “It’s a perfect opportunity for our community to come together and make something for our future.”

READ: Our FIERCE Readers Share Some of the Most Outrageous Lies They’ve Told To Get Some Time Away With Their Boo

After Almost Two Years, Trans Activist Alejandra Barrera Has Been Released From ICE Custody

Things That Matter

After Almost Two Years, Trans Activist Alejandra Barrera Has Been Released From ICE Custody

transgender_together / Instagram

After nearly two years in detention, Alejandra Barrera, a 44-year-old transgender Salvadorian activist, was released from an ICE facility in New Mexico late last Friday. Human rights activists and the transgender immigrant community are rejoicing at the news that Barrera will finally be freed after being held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention since November 2017.

Barrera, who hails from El Salvador, fled her country due to discrimination and persecution. Shortly after seeking asylum in the U.S, she was detained at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detention center with a unit specifically for transgender women that opened in 2017, according to the Phoenix New Times. During her time at the detention facility, there were numerous complaints of abuse and maltreatment of inmates that included the death of Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez, a transgender woman who died of HIV-related complications last year. 

 Before leaving El Salvador, Barrera was a well-known activist in her home country where she stood up for transgender rights for over a decade. But with this attention also came attacks from local gangs and the Salvadoran military who targeted her and forced her to eventually leave in and claim asylum in November 2017. In spite of all of this, Barrera was repeatedly denied asylum in the U.S.

Many people and organizations helped build awareness around the release of Barrera. But it was the hashtag #FreeAlejandra that made the world know her story. 

Credit: @outmagazine / Twitter

Barrera’s release is the culmination of a year-long campaign by multiple nonprofit organizations like the Amnesty International, the Translatin@ Coalition and the National Immigrant Justice Center. This also included the help of federal lawmakers like Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Adam Schiff (Calif.), and Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) 

Many first heard the story of Barrera with the hashtag #FreeAlejandra that circulated online for months spreading awareness of her detention. A Change.org petition demanding her freedom received more than 36,000 signatures and raised awareness of Barerra’s case using the hashtag #FreeAlejandra.

“Through letters of support, people from around the world gave me the strength to continue in this struggle that was so hard for me. I’m here to keep fighting”  Barrera said in response to everyone that helped share her story. 

Bamby Salcedo, the executive director of Translatin@ Coalition, acknowledged all the work put forth to have Barrera finally released. She said in a video posted to Facebook the day of  Barrera’s release that her “heart is so full of joy” now that Barrera is finally out.

“It was because of all of your calls, because of all of you signing petitions, showing up to the rallies, showing up the press conferences, her lawyers – everyone – all of you who wrote letters to Alejandra, everyone who participated in la campaigna de #FreeAlejandra – should be very proud because this is one more victory and we should be able to celebrate,” Salcedo said in the video. 

Barrera is currently released on parole while she waits for her asylum case to go to immigration court.

Credit: @mghtranshealth / Twitter

While Barrera is out and getting to enjoy her freedom, her fight for asylum is not over just yet. As of now, Barrera’s asylum status is still not secure and must now continue to fight against her deportation. If she is not granted asylum, Barrera faces the daunting possibility of being deported back to El Salvador. 

Denise Bell, Amnesty International’s researcher for refugee and migrant rights, told the Daily News that while her organization is happy that Barrera is out of ICE detention, the fight is not over yet. Bell says that she hopes that Barrera’s case becomes an example of what happens when people come together to bring awareness to a good cause. 

“We don’t think that she should be returned to El Salvador, where we are gravely concerned for her well-being,” Bell told the Daily News. “Trans people in detention are at a special risk of abuse because of their special medical needs, often, and [because of] their gender identity. So we just want to draw attention to the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other trans people who are seeking asylum, who are in immigration detention [and] who should be released on parole

Barrera is currently being represented by Rebekah Wolf of the Equal Justice Coalition, who fought and brought awareness for her release. While she seeks refuge, Barrera will stay with a sponsor from the TransLatin@ Coalition. 

According to the Washington Blade, ICE estimates that at least 111 transgender people who are being held in U.S. detention centers. The number is an increase that what ICE estimated just five months prior and it does not include detainees that might have been uncounted. 

READ: Mexico Has Become The World’s Second-Deadliest Country For Transgender People To Live And Many Are Worried