In the middle of a long and heavy week (or year, for that matter) joy found an outlet at Tulips FTW The Here to Stay art market took over the Near Southside venue for the evening, bringing out queer folks from across North Texas to sell their art, listen to music, and mostly just hang out. 

This was the second Here to Stay event at Tulips. Founder Max Benedict created the organization after realizing a need for more spaces prioritizing LGBTQ+, disabled, and BIPOC folks in North Texas. He’s held the art markets all across the region. 

For many of the artists, the markets provide a much-needed sense of community. Kieran Grey Shelley has driven as far as 90 minutes to set up shop. He said he sometimes loses money after factoring in gas used, but he continues to come. 

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“I’ve never felt so accepted at an art market,” he said. “This is how I connect.” 

Shelley creates art around his experience as a transmasc lesbian in a small town. His collages are filled with “rage and sadness,” he said, but also joy. 

Other artists also spoke about how unique it was to have a place to come and feel accepted and meet like-minded individuals. 

Artist Amy Long said they liked seeing queer young people embracing themselves so openly. 

“When I was younger, we didn’t even have the term nonbinary,” they said. “I just love seeing them able to express themselves in a way that took me so much longer. It really excites me.”

Long recently quit their job to free up more time for creating art. They specialize in bedazzling objects (sunglasses, shoes) and making whimsical jewelry. 

Throughout the event, revelers jammed to the music, meandered through the booths, and caught up over vegan soul food courtesy of Kay Baby’s Vegan as the sun set over the Fort Worth skyline. 

Organizer Benedict regularly checked in with artists and guests, all smiles. 

“We really just need a place where people can have fun and just exist,” he said. 

Did you miss out? Not to worry. Here to Stay will host Wednesday LGBTQ+ art markets at Tulips about once a month. The group also puts on the events at other spots across North Texas. Visit @LGBTQHeretoStay. 

Bailey Biggs, left, and Capa Martinez share a table at the Here to Stay art market. Biggs has participated in the market before. “I’m always comfortable at these events,” he said.
Amy Long works on bedazzling a pair of sunglasses at the Here to Stay art market. Building community with others has been a central part of Long’s life. “You find each other,” they said.
A pair of bedazzled high-top Converse sit on display on artist Amy Long’s table. These were one of Long’s first big art pieces, they said.
Dentonite Gren Bee stands behind her table of artwork, comics she calls “excessively queer.” Comics helped her come into her identity as a trans lesbian, and now she makes art to help others do the same.
Max Benedict, cofounder of Here to Stay, checked in with everyone throughout the show.
Denton’s According to Marcy was one of several North Texas bands playing Here to Stay at Tulips.

Amanda Whitlow, who makes art that honors their Muscogee (Creek) Nation heritage, sells their wares at the Here to Stay art market.

Crocheter Cecil Mattson, far right, sits with friends Carter Jamison, left, and Steele Musgrove, center. The three are law school friends.
Simon Shepherd works on a digital drawing during the Here to Stay art market. Shepherd said proceeds from his artwork go toward his top surgery. Shepherd shared a table with boyfriend Elliot McWilliams.