SAN ANTONIO — Eighteen-year-old Richie Combs has embraced their life as a non-binary, transmasculine individual.
“It was nice to figure that out pretty much, and I feel like that’s how I always felt, I just couldn’t like word it," said Combs.A recent graduate of the Northeast School of the Arts, Combs sees the parallels between art and real life.
"I think of art as just expression. Just doing what you want and what you see and putting that out exactly into the world, which is exactly what I think gender is, 'cause it’s just expression and presentation," Combs said.
Set to attend the Kansas City Art Institute this fall, Combs decided to apply for one of the many scholarships that LGBTQ nonprofit Fiesta Youth gives out each year at its Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil event.
But the scholarship Combs wanted and won was special. It's dedicated to the memory of Hector Bove, an advocate and friend to the LGBTQ community, who passed away last July.
"Hector was an extremely important volunteer here in our community," said Fiesta Youth president David Laidacker-Luna. "It was just him, it was his spirit. His love of our youth, his love of our LGBTQ community, his love of just life in general."
Surrounded by Hector’s family, the moment was emotional for Combs, but they still managed to honor him in a way he would've appreciated.
“I’m really sad that I never got to meet Hector," Combs said to the crowd after accepting the scholarship. "So, in honor of him, I wore crazy socks today.”
Combs never met Hector in person, but their family and friends all said he would’ve been proud that the big check went to someone with the same spirit.
“They said they were honored to give the money to me out of all people because of the connection that they felt with my application," said Combs.
And that’s the side of Fiesta we don’t always see. Away from the parades, music, and libations, it’s a time to celebrate people who just want to give, help, and be whoever they are.