Heights-area artists recently teamed up with Jenni Tranweaver, owner of Jenni’s Noodle House located at 602 E. 20th St. in the Heights to create a new city landmark. On April 5, between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., Houston’s “Be Visible” Pride Wall will be unveiled on an outside wall at the Heights noodle house, and all are invited to the celebration.
What’s a pride wall? For several years, a business in Montrose hosted a rainbow mural dedicated to Houston’s LGBTQ community. Sometimes called the “gayborhood,” Montrose was a good choice, and the wall became a popular spot for photographs. Last month, the business painted the wall black.
Noted Heights photographer and gay activist Eric Schell decided to find a new location to host an even better “pride wall.”
Schell partnered with Heights artist and visual designer Hugo Perez to execute a mural. Then Jenni Tranweaver offered her 64-foot by 16-foot, outdoor wall at Jenni’s Noodle House in the Heights to host the artwork.
The landmark will feature a quote from LGBTQ hero Jim Obergefell, who will be the keynote speaker at the unveiling.
Obergefell is the gay man who made history in 2015 when he took his fight for same sex-marriage rights to the U.S. Supreme Court. He won, and from that day forward LGBTQ Americans could marry legally nationwide.
Schell is the founder of a nonprofit agency called Pride Portraits and photographs members and allies of the LGBTQ community nationally. The prolific artist has 3,000 portraits in his portfolio including musician Melissa Etheridge, Congressman John Lewis, former Democratic house leader Nancy Pelosi, actress Alyssa Milano, and many others.
“Our mission is to represent the LGBTQ community and its allies, one photograph at a time,” Schell stated. “Because visibility is crucial to change, this new, free, public art called the ‘Be Visible’ Pride Wall will serve as a reminder for those who care to ‘Be Visible.’”
Heights Artist Hugo Perez is the talent behind the new wall. He says the design will borrow elements from the LGBTQ flag blended with floods of light.
“As a gay person of color, I am really excited about painting the wall and adding this symbol of love, kindness, peace and equality to our landscape,” Perez said.“The wall is not finished yet, but people are already stopping and taking photos with it.”
The owners of Jenni’s Noodle House, Scott and Jenni Tranweaver, have four locations of their popular Vietnamese dining spot, and are strong allies of the LGBTQ community. They are raising a son and feel that the pride wall will contribute to a better future for Houston’s youth.
“We want to help young people feel comfortable to speak out about who they are,” stated Jenni Tranweaver. “We love the Heights; it’s a very diverse, vocal community, and definitely more multi-cultural than Montrose these days. We think it’s the perfect location for the Pride Wall.”
To Jim Obergefell, appearing at the “Be Visible” Pride Wall unveiling was a must. “It’s just as Harvey Milk said. We as a community have to come out, and to be known for who we are. It’s the only way things will change,” Obergefell stated.
‘”Today, it’s more important than ever.”
On Friday, June 26, 2015, when the ruling in favor of gay marriage was announced on the steps of the Supreme Court, Obergefell was moving through the crowd of thousands of cheering, crying Americans. Suddenly, he was fielding live TV news interviews with several networks.
Just as he was wrapping up with CNN, a producer announced that Obergefell had a phone call, and she handed him a phone.
Who could it be, he wondered? It was President Barack Obama.
“Congratulations Jim. Love wins,” the President said.