Houston Artists and Musicians Come Together to Make Things Right for Ella Marie Goode

Once again, Houston's art and music communities join to help a friend in need
Once again, Houston's art and music communities join to help a friend in need Art by Ella Marie Goode

Last year, Ella Marie Goode made a pivotal decision about her life.

“I came out as a trans woman just over one year ago at age 37, a ‘late bloomer' one might say,” she notes.

Goode expected some challenges but believed those closest to her would stand by her side. She thought she had a support system in her workplace. She felt she was considered family by her employer, so she was surprised by events that occurred after she came out.

“In January of 2018 my employer of eight years terminated me for being transgender, thus concluding a 16-year career,” she said. “This later proved to be a good thing and I now am living my best life. Unfortunately, I have legal fees associated with my termination that I cannot currently afford.”

Goode is an artist, a one-time Houston Press Music Awards nominee for “Best Artwork.” She’s also an avid live music fan who is a regular at shows of all genres (“except pop country,” she laughs). So, when she decided to seek help with her troubles, she turned to the art and music communities and they’ve offered the support she hoped and imagined she'd have from the beginning. This Saturday, bands, artists and food vendors are coming together for That Shit You Like, a house party and fundraiser benefiting Goode.

“With the help and support of my loving life partner, Nirvana Trey, and my chosen sister-roommate, Jaz Henry, we decided we would raise the necessary funds by throwing a party and charging a moderate cover. I made a post to Facebook in regards to needing help with entertainment, donations and volunteers. What happened next still to this moment brings me to tears,” she said. “Our beloved Houston community stepped forward immediately in an overwhelming show of support. Artists, musicians, entertainers, vendors, food service folks, even people I barely knew were contacting me and offering their help. Together we’ve put together one hell of a rager.

“If you come Saturday, you’ll be sure to see a diverse group of folks that, despite our different walks of life, all agree that we as people deserve equal rights. Their support for me as a trans woman is an act of love and of rebellion.”

The rebels joining Goode are a mix of some of Houston’s best known and rising artists. Kicking, from Mississippi, joins local acts Gen Why, Broke Off, Expensive Genes, Cactus Flowers and DJ saintnic for an eclectic music lineup. Rogue Throat and Traci Lavois are on the bill to perform poetry.

“As you well know, I fucking love live music! Houston has some of the best musicians just hanging out and sharing their songs. I feel like every tune is a gift. I take that energy, poetry and melody with me everywhere I go,” Goode said. “In the mid ‘90s I found myself at home with the Houston punk scene. Through the years I’ve allowed my ears and heart to experience every type of music our city has to offer. I’m excited about all of the bands joining us this weekend because they are talented, dedicated musicians, because they are my friends and because I am so goddamn proud of them for doing what they love and bringing their expression to our home. It’s a mixed-genre show and I just couldn’t be happier about that.”

click to enlarge
Portrait of the artist: Ella Marie Goode
Photo courtesy of Ella Marie Goode

As many friends as Goode counts in the music scene, she’s got as many or more in the art community.

“I’ve been an artist all my life. I started sharing my work about five years ago through my Instagram account. I love to do multimedia illustration work and murals. A lot of my inspiration comes from local music, friends and life in general,” she said. “More recently, I’ve begun making jewelry; each one is a little piece of me. Soon my jewelry will be available through our company, headed by Jaz & Nirvy, Stone & Sigil.”

Artist vendors at the party include Bittertooth, Reagan Gore, Magic Mal, Fancy Snail, Bird Trash and Madeline Ward. Gaby the Face Painter will be on hand, too. Goode said a host of food vendors will be lending their talents to the event. A silent auction features items from Houston punk legends 30footFALL and retailers like Insomnia Gallery and Black's Bodega. A more complete list can be found on the party's Facebook event page.

“This event has been made possible by our friends, our community, by Houstonians. Every single person in attendance is a supporter. I hope I can hug each of them. I am humbled and forever grateful to all of them,” Goode said.

The support for the fund raiser has been overwhelming, the exact opposite of what Goode got from people she’d devoted her professional talents to for the better part of a decade, she said.

“I believed that they still wanted me after I came out, needed me even. I thought that my value and work ethic would be enough to keep me onboard and that they would maybe even learn a little about love and acceptance along the way. I was wrong and it burned.

“Society wants us to conform to antiquated ideas of what is normal and acceptable, ya know? Those of us that dare to be ourselves must risk everything to do so,” she continued. “Escaping the shame that others place on us, overcoming the crippling anxiety associated with being publicly vulnerable and so much more that I would literally have to write a book to adequately express.

“Through it all I’ve learned that being authentic is the best, no matter how frightening it may seem at first. It’s a natural vetting process. Those that didn’t want me left quickly -including my employer - the ones that love me and deserve me stayed. Once my walls came down I began building some of the most meaningful relationships and friendships of my life. Transitioning from male to female has been the most terrifying and exhilarating experience ever. As I exist today, my heart is full and my path is clear. It’s the best way I’ve ever loved myself.”

That Shit You Like, 5 p.m. Saturday at 1923 Lombardy. $10 at the gate, all ages. The event is B.Y.O.B. Goode said no underage drinking will be allowed and IDs will be checked at the gate.
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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.