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In this episode of Here & Queer, Vidalia Anne Gentry is joined by celebrated Chicago drag queen and recent Nashville transplant, Aura Mayari! Available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Overcast and more!
Aura Mayari: So I'm not like a Halloween drag baby or like a Pride drag baby. I was a birthday drag baby. So a lot of my friends would do like birthday birthday events. It's like drag themed. So I went to two of them. And mind you I didn't have any drag experience except for the rent thing. I didn't do my makeup - I had my own makeup artist. I didn't dress myself - I had like costume designers.
But I did a thing, you know like I did my face. I was gorgeous,by the way, like my first time in drag.
Vidalia Anne Gentry: Mama look at the material.
Aura Mayari: Look at these cheekbones! No! But I showed up. I was in this body suit. I tucked myself with no with no pads. It was literally just me tucked…
So I show up to these birthday events at Boystown and bar owners and staff were just like coming up to me and saying what's your drug name? Who are you? Where do you perform? And that's when it started!
My first drag name … because I was feeling my oats, I was totally feeling my oats. I was wearing this like really beautiful blonde wig that I got from a Korean beauty store, and my friend was like "You look like a Courtney, so we're going to name you Courtney." So that one night my name was Courtney. I was like I need a last name. But I was so fucking drunk that night. I was dancing all over the bar. And my friend was like, "Courtney slays, Courtney slays." And that was my first drag name - Courtney Slays was born in 2017.
It's been quite a year and we're only halfway through 2022. The pandemic is still ongoing, LGBTQ+ rights are under threat, money struggles are prevalent, and that’s just to name a few issues. In the midst of all this, it’s hard not to feel anxious. Understand that your feelings are valid and so we put together this handy guide for mental health apps.
Dr. Jack Turban, MD, MHS, a child and adolescent psychiatry fellow at Stanford University School of Medicine researches the mental health of transgender youth. He explains that during the pandemic the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth has been declining. He says, “For instance, the Trevor Project crisis line for LGBTQ+ youth has seen a surge in volume.”
If you’re struggling, know that you aren’t alone. Seeking help may be a difficult step to take, but it’s a necessary one. Luckily, there are a lot of resources out there that can help you find support and affirmation.
How Can Mental Health Apps Help?
Mental health apps are a low-cost, accessible way to receive instant help for your struggles. While they aren’t a replacement for professional care, they have various functions to promote mental wellness, such as sleep reminders, calming music, and even mood trackers. Some apps also have teletherapy services, where you can communicate with a licensed specialist to get started with treatment.
“One of the most important parts, and beautiful parts when used correctly, is that digital mental health tools and the internet in general, create a space for connections. [Mental health apps] are beneficial because they can help remove some of the possible barriers LGBTQ+ individuals deal with in less accepting environments. Hopefully, they can access such tools without someone standing in their way or being gatekeepers that bar their path to better health”, says Dr. Chase Anderson, MD, MS, a child psychiatry fellow at the University of California San Francisco.
Five Mental Health Apps
Mental Health Apps
Below is a list of five mental health apps that can help to make your life a little easier.
1. Ayana Therapy
Ayana is an app that helps people from marginalized communities find a therapist they can identify with based on their unique experiences and identities across race, gender identity, class, sexuality, ethnicity, and ability. This on-demand app allows for flexible communication across convenient platforms (text, phone, and video call) to get in touch with your LGBTQ+ therapist whenever you need to.
2. Pride Counseling
This is an online counseling program for the LGBTQ+ community, led by specialized mental health professionals. Through the app, you can conveniently get in touch with a licensed specialist through live chat in addition to booking weekly scheduled appointments. Pride Counseling also offers need-based financial aid to make counseling affordable.
Sowlmate is an LGBTQ+-focused self-care app with a wide library of interactive courses and meditation sounds designed by LGBTQ+ professionals. A key feature of this app is the AI-based mood tracker, where the data is used to showcase content tailored to your individual needs. New programs are released every week on the platform.
4. Trill Project
This is an anonymous, social network where you can freely express yourself. Through the app, you can share your deepest, unfiltered thoughts and build authentic conversations with other members of the LGBTQ+ community. There is also tons of content focused on LGBTQ+ issues and mental health for users to discover and share.
Wisdo is a peer-to-peer support platform to connect with people who’ve walked your path and share your own helpful advice. In the app, there are live sessions from mentors and virtual communities focused on discussing LGBTQ+ issues. You can also easily have private conversations with people you guide or learn from.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741, or visit www.SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.com for additional resources.
If you are an LGBTQ+ young person in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk, call the Trevor Lifeline immediately at 1-866-488-7386.
If you are ever in need, please use one of these national resources for the trans community. Most resources are not just for the transgender community and can help any LGBTQ+ person in need. If we don't have your location listed, you can ask the national organizations to help you search for locations close to your home.
National Suicide Hotlines
National Suicide Prevention Chat: Available to the U.S and U.S territories for free, online support
BeFrienders Worldwide: This gives access to suicide prevention lines and chats all over the world, just select your country and it will direct you toward the correct correspondence
Find a local Helpline: Which gives access to suicide prevention lines and chats all over the world
Trans Lifeline: Available in the US- at 1-877-565-8860 and in Canada- at 1-877-330-6366 both are 24/7, confidential, and free
LGBT National Help Center: This provides all of the following amazing resources!
Toll-Free National Hotline
Monday – Friday 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. ET
Saturday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET
Monday – Friday 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. ET
Saturday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET
For teens and young adults up to age 25
Online Peer-Support Chat
Monday – Friday 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. ET
Saturday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET
One-on-one confidential peer support; not for casual chatting.
Trans Teens Online Talk Group
Weekly moderated group for trans teens ages 12 – 19
Wednesday from 7-9 p.m. ET
Join the group here
The Gay & Lesbian Switchboard of New York
Monday – Friday 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. ET
Saturday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET
NYC hotline providing peer support and information on local resources
Advocacy Organizations for the Transgender Community
National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) - provides information, support, and advocates for transgender people
Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC)- Helps to advance equality for trans people of color
Trans Women of Color Collective (TWOCC)- Advocacy group for transgender women of color
Trans Latina Coalition- Advocacy group for the Latin Transgender community
Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC)- Advocacy group located in Massachusetts
Transgender American Veterans Association- Advocacy for Transgender Vets
The Task Force's Transgender Civil Rights Project- Advocacy and education about trans issues
PFLAG's Transgender Ally campaign- Advocacy and allyship campaign
HRC's transgender resources- Resources and advocacy for trans rights
Family and Trans Youth Support
Gender Spectrum- Provides advocacy and support for families, transgender youth, and educators
Gender Diversity- Provides advocacy and support for families, transgender youth, and educators
Trans Families- Provides advocacy and support for families, transgender youth, and educators
Trans Youth Equity Foundation- Provides support for families and trans youth
PFLAG Our Trans Loved Ones- Support for families with people who have trans members
COLAGE Kids of Trans Community- Support for children with transgender parents
Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF)- Legal Defense for those who identify within the transgender spectrum
Transgender Law Center (TLC)- National legal services and advocacy for transgender people
Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP)- Legal services for trans people
Trans Doe Task Force- Legal services for trans people
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)- Provides legal services for trans individuals
GLAD Trans Rights- Gives legal help and provides information about your rights
National Center for Lesbian Rights - Transgender Law- Has legal outlets for the transgender community as well as a surplus of legal information
NCTE- A collective of over 80 organizations compiled to help navigate the name and gender change process
NCTE Directory- Compilation of the US and national resources for legal help for the trans community
American Bar Association- Has a list of resources for education and help regarding transgender legal issues in the US
Transgender Youth and Equality- Provides legal support to transgender youth as well as education about rights
Trans Equality- Information regarding gender equality and your housing rights
CenterLink- Helps find an LGBT community center
AKT- A UK resource center that provides housing to LGBT+ community members under the age of 26
Stonewall Housing- Provides LGBT+ members housing and support throughout the UK and London
Bill Wilson Center- Provides support and housing for all members of the LBGT+ community as well as families
Los Angeles Host Home- Resources for finding host homes for LGBT+ Youth throughout California
Time Out Youth- Helps Provide homes for transgender youth who have been kicked out of their home
National Coalition for the Homeless- Provides resources to help find local homeless shelters/housing/host homes
National Homeless Law Center- Provides policy advocacy, public education, litigation, and advocacy training and support to prevent and end homelessness and to protect the rights of people experiencing homelessness
Support Groups for the Trans Community - Kansas City
- Trans+Social: Weekly social support group held at UMKC exclusively for trans+ individuals who are college students or young adult community members. Email email@example.com for the current time and location.
- Trans+Allies: Facilitated discussion group open to everyone. Held once per month during the academic year (Sept-Dec, Feb-May) at UMKC. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for the current time, location, and topics.
- EQUAL Trans Support Group: Held at the LIKEME Lighthouse (3909 Main St.), 5-8 p.m. on 3rd Thursdays. Open to everyone. Contact email@example.com for more information.
- SOFFA (Significant Others, Family, Friends, and Allies) of Transgender Persons: 6:30-8:30 p.m. on 1st and 3rd Wednesdays at various Johnson County libraries. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the current location.
- PFLAG: Held monthly at 3 p.m. on the 4th Sunday at the LIKEME Lighthouse and the 2nd Sunday at Village Presbyterian (6641 Mission Rd.) For parents, family, friends, and LGBT+ individuals.
Note: Check out http://likemelighthouse.org/calendar/ for social events for LGBT+ individuals.
Counseling Options for the Trans Community - Kansas City
If you are a student, college counseling centers often offer a number of free sessions per year. As with all counseling centers, it is recommended that you request a counselor who is knowledgeable about trans issues.
- Community Counseling and Assessment Services at UMKC: Offers income-based counseling with counseling practicum students; sessions as low as $5. 816-235-2725
- Counseling Services: Brookside 51 Building, Room 201 816-235-1635 email@example.com
- T. Michael Henderson, MS, LPC, LCPC: 7280 NW 87th Terr., Suite 210, Kansas City, Mo.; 816-841-7772
- Teresa Rose, Ph.D.: 4200 Somerset Dr., Suite 239, Prairie Village, Kan.; 816-363-9500
- Richard Abloff, Ph.D.: 6306 Walnut St., Kansas City, Mo.; 816-444-7890
- Daniel C. Claiborn, Ph.D.: 8826 Santa Fe Dr., Suite 170; Overland Park, Kan.; 913-438-2100
- Donna J Davis, PLPC: 816-442-3481, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Megan Monroe, LSCSW: 816-435-2829; MMonroeMSW@kc.rr.com; MeganMonroeMSW.com
- Transgender Institute: Caroline Gibbs and Patti Concannon. Therapy geared toward MTF and FTM individuals wishing to transition, as well as children and teens; 8080 Ward Parkway, Suite 400, Kansas City, Mo.; 816-305-0943
- Trevor Lifeline: An LGBT+ 24/7 counseling/crisis line: 866-488-7386
Health Care for the Trans Community - Kansas City
- KC CARE Health Clinic: Offers a range of free health care services. 3515 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo.; 816-753-5144 http://www.kccareclinic.org/ (Also offers counseling)
- Truman Medical Center: Free and reduced-cost medical care, including specialists; 2301 Holmes St., Kansas City, Mo.; 816-404-1000; http://www.trumed.org/ (Also offers counseling at 300 W. 19th Terr.: 816-404-5700) Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 am to 4:30 pm
- Transgender Surgery Services In Kansas: This is a compiled list of hospitals and doctors throughout Kansas that do gender-affirming surgeries.
- KU Medical Center: These are the names of trans-friendly providers that work for the Kansas University Medical Center: Practitioners: Meredith Gray, MD OB-GYN; Taryn Acosta Lentz, Ph.D. – Merriam, KS; Margaret Tuttle, Physician’s Assistant – Kansas City, KS; Kathryn Thiessen, Adult Health Nurse Practitioner – Wichita
- Sharon Lee, M.D.: 340 Southwest Blvd. Kansas City, Kan.; 913-722-3100; informed consent hormone therapy without a referral from a counselor.
- Mary Jacobs, A.P.R.N.: 1001 N. Minneapolis Wichita, Kan.; 316-293-1840; informed consent hormone therapy.
- Cynthia Glass, M.D.: 373 W. 101st Terr., Kansas City, Mo.; 816-942-8200. Provides hormone therapy. Requests a referral.
- Gender Pathway Services at Children’s Mercy Hospital: pediatric endocrinologist Jill Jacobson, M.D. This clinic provides counseling and health care for transgender children; 816-478-5254 or 816-960-8803
Legal Aid for the Trans Community - Kansas City
- Madeline Johnson, gender attorney. 4051 Broadway, Suite 4, Kansas City, Mo.; 816-607-1836; MJohnson@ELMLAWKC.com. Handles discrimination claims, name changes, gender marker changes, and birth certificate amendments.
- OutLaws: UMKC Program that connects LGBT+ students with law students to help with the legalization of name changes and more. 500 E 52nd St. UMKC School of Law Kansas City, MO 64110 United State of America Contact Email E: Jcwbfv@mail.umkc.edu
- ID Change: Hub for name and gender marker change in Kansas
Editor’s Note: The University of Missouri Kansas City established a Trans+Social Group in February 2014 to provide a safe space for individuals who identify as transgender to meet, connect and discuss topics related to gender identity and expression. Two UMKC School of Education students in the counseling psychology doctoral program, Alex Ross and Michelle Farrell, helped create this program. The group is open to UMKC students of all ages and young adults in the Kansas City area who identify as transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, genderfluid, gender non-conforming, non-binary, bigender, agender, third gender, questioning, and/or somewhere beyond the binary gender system. Ross posted this resource guide on the Facebook page called LGBT in KC, and we are reprinting it with her permission.
last updated June 17, 2022
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Michael Feinstein has become an iconic singer of the modern era. He has entertained audiences and world leaders alike with his jazz standards. Recently he began working with Liza Minnelli to produce a unique stage show that celebrates her mother, Judy Garland's, 100th birthday.
Mr. Feinstein took time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions and give us some insight into his creative process, the future of jazz, and the production of this one-of-a-kind show.
Why do you feel the classics still resonate today?
One of the things I love about the music that I primarily sing is that the songs transcend the time in which they were created. They truly are timeless in the sense that they still have incredible power and energy in what they convey to audiences. I always compare them to the timelessness of William Shakespeare or Beethoven or Michelangelo in that people don't experience any of those things and say they're old.
They still resonate with the heart and they have a contemporary sensibility because certain fundamental emotions are forever. The songs that I sing are so amazingly crafted that they're malleable and they can be performed and sung and may any different ways. And that's one of the reasons they survive because they're just adaptable.
And that's one of the fun things about it. Every time I sing one of these songs, it feels fresh to me. And I also know that there are maybe people in the audience who've never heard these songs before. So I'm mindful of trying to present them in their best suit. If you will.
Did Judy Garland influence you more when you were a kid or as an adult?
Judy Garland, what an amazing person; incredible performer. As a child, like most of my generation, anyway, I first became aware of Judy Garland in connection with the 'Wizard of Oz.' That movie was shown every year as an annual event on television. And we would always go to my aunt and uncle's house and watch it there because they had a color television. But the true art of Judy Garland was introduced to me later in my life, when I became aware of her many recordings and other films that she made at MGM, and she had two distinct careers. One was the 28 feature films she made at MGM from 1937 until she was unceremoniously fired by them in 1950.
Then there was her adult concert career from 1951 to 1969. In that period, she performed over 1100 concerts and made classic record albums. And that's such a rich period of American culture and also music. And so the show that I'm doing is a true celebration of the extraordinary joy she brought to her and the pathos and the sadness that's conveyed through the way she sang ballots. It's a multimedia celebration with home movies supplied by the family, a rare recording of hers singing acapella. And I accompany her on the piano that I actually discovered of a song no one had ever heard her sing before. So it's a, a rich program."
In your opinion, has jazz fallen by the wayside in contemporary music, or is it just reserved for a more distinguished crowd?
I think jazz falls into the same category as American popular song, the classic American popular song in that it will always survive, it will always have an audience and perhaps it's more specialized today, but it's the kind of music that people discover when they're a little bit older and then it becomes a permanent part of what they listen to.
Are there any modern songwriters who you feel could be as prolific as Mr. Gershwin?
Well, uh, I believe that Bob Dylan is incredibly prolific. There are many other songwriters who have a work ethic that produces a lot of material. Diane Warren, I'm told, writes every single day, The songwriter Michel Legrand composed, well over 200 film scores as he composed every day. So there are probably songwriters who wrote more than Gerwin, but will their songs be heard in a hundred years as widely as George Gershwins? That I don't know the answer to.
Do you think the best songs are written when the world is in turmoil or when it's more at peace?
Music always reflects the time in which it is created. Uh, if you look at the songs of world war II, the were lots of songs of patriotism that were very, um, what's the word --- jingoistic. Things like, 'Johnny get your gun, get your gun, get your gun.' All these songs about fighting for what's right. And those songs have not lived as long as the love songs that were written in that time.
For example, 'White Christmas' was written at a time when the world was just entering the second world war and that song has lived, and the patriotic songs, uh, have not worn well, even though the sentiment is there. They were very much of their time. I think that there is a certain kind of inspiration that comes out of turmoil. A lot of songs written during the American depression have become lasting standards.
Things like "As Time Goes By.' That was later featured in the movie 'Casablanca' and that sort of thing. So I think that good songs can be written in any time, but perhaps there's more, uh, passion conveyed when there are problems in the world,
Does music constantly play in my subconscious?
Absolutely. Yes. Music is always playing in my brain and that doesn't bother me because sometimes it's music. I know, and sometimes it's new music. That's how I, I come up with the idea for a tune. My friend, George Firth, who died a number of years ago was a brilliant librettist. He wrote the book for the Sondheim shows 'Merrily, We Roll Along,' and company. And he once said that anything that you're whistling or humming in your brain is a subconscious window to what one is really thinking about or what they're really feeling.
So if he ever heard anybody humming or whistling, he would say, what are you singing? What are you humming? He wanted to know the title of the song, because that was his armchair psychoanalysis of what that person was, was going through.
What will the audiences be treated to at the Scottsdale show?
Well, it's a centennial tribute to Judy Garland. And as I mentioned previously, it's multimedia with photographs that have never been seen before, this incredible home recording of Judy Garland, which I found in a house that she once lived in behind a fake wall.
It's just a weird story. Uh, so I'll be accompanying her in this song. So it's a world premiere of Judy Garland singing something that nobody's ever heard before. And I also sing a couple of things that were written for her that never saw the light of day.
And then a lot of familiar things. It's a celebration of the best of her MGM years, and then the concert years, the iconic Carnegie Hall show, and it's a very immersive experience, both, visually and emotionally. The audience reaction has been, spectacular, and I'm very grateful. The enormity of trying to pay tribute to someone with a career, as large as Judy Garland's certainly was not easy, but I feel like we've nailed it.
I had a team of people who helped to put it together, notably, Judy Garland's daughter, Liza Minnelli, who executive produced the show and was very much influential in helping to shape what it's about. It celebrates the incredible art that she gave all of us. It doesn't delve into the tragedy because that's the tabloid stuff. But the reason people remember her at all is because of the talent. And so that's what I celebrate.
Show & Venue details:
Valley audience members can join Feinstein for this celebration of Judy Garland at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 E. 2nd St., Scottsdale, Arizona. There will be two concerts at 3 pm and 7 pm on Sunday, March 20, 2022. Tickets start at $79. For information click here or visit or call 480-499-TKTS (8587).
All guests age 12 and older must provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test, taken within 72 hours of the performance date, along with photo ID, to attend performances. As an alternative, guests may provide proof of full vaccination. Masks are highly encouraged to protect artists, staff and patrons. For full health and safety protocols click here.
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