The September 26 event benefits Montrose Grace Place and Gender Infinity.
By Megan Smith

On September 26, Montrose’s Ripcord will be transformed into a hub of community activism as numerous LGBT and allied organizations come together for “Rip the Runway,” a benefit for Montrose Grace Place (a drop-in center for LGBTQ homeless youth) and Gender Infinity (an annual conference advocating for transgender and gender-diverse youth).

The event will feature live music from local singer/songwriter Austin Vela, a dating charity auction, a silent auction, food and drinks, and a fashion show featuring some of local fashion designer Darius Vallier’s latest masterpieces. Entertainment will also be provided by some of Houston’s top drag queens and talented male and female dancers.

But what started out as a small benefit has quickly grown into much more—representatives from HOUequality, OPT Youth, Nest, the Montrose Center, and Equality Texas will also be attending to pass out literature and to help spread the word about their causes. “This has become something much bigger than ever expected,” says Vela, whose music has hit the top of Houston’s local indie charts. His debut single will also be released on iTunes the night of the fundraiser and all proceeds from downloads will benefit Montrose Grace Place and Gender Infinity.

Vela credits volunteers Christopher Barry, Sarah McCoy Tompkins, Skylar Gutierrez, Kris Smith, and Fran Watson for their hard work in helping to organize the Ripcord event. “Without them, none of this could be possible,” he says. “And a huge warm thank you to Ripcord for allowing this to happen.”

“Though this event is going to be a great way to raise funds for Montrose Grace Place and Gender Infinity, it will also give the community the opportunity to unite, network, and ignite as activists,” adds Rafael De Avila, one of the event’s instrumental organizers and the operations manager for the Ivory Music Group. “This is the first event that we have put together at this venue, but so much talent and experience from sponsors and volunteers are making this a success.”

Doors open at 9 p.m., and entrance is free. “Come as you are!” Vela says.

“More than anything, we are humbled as to how many people from such different aspects of our community are stepping forward to work toward the movement of love and human rights,” Vela says. “On September 26, a community will be united under one inclusive roof.”

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