For many years, Mimi McCloud didn’t feel comfortable sharing details about her partner at work.
“Photos of us did not adorn my space, and my weekend recap on Mondays was guarded so as not to slip with pronouns. It’s a miserable place to exist,” McCloud explains. Assumed heterosexuality can be suffocating in a quasi- military environment like law enforcement, McCloud says. But she soon realized that she was doing herself a disservice.
“I was not me,” she says. “It’s important to me, because love has no standard look. Families are not cookie-cutter. Authenticity and standing in one’s essence should not be turned on and off with a switch as you clock in for a shift. People need support. Families need support, no matter the gender or dynamic.”
“There’s power in visibility as an executive LGBTQ woman, because historically we haven’t been included around the table.”
Today, the 46-year-old McCloud is out and proud at her job as a manager in the Office of Planning at the Houston Police Department (HPD). She also serves as co-chair of HPD’s LGBT Committee, co-chair of the program and events committee for Mayor Sylvester Turner’s LGBTQ Advisory Board, and membership ambassador for the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce.
McCloud, who is in a committed relationship with her life partner, Priscilla Peña, is also a fitness buff who teaches Pilates—which came to her during a dark period in her life.
“I’m a domestic-violence survivor, and it was—and still is—my therapy,” she says. “I was taking Reformer classes daily, sometimes two 60-minute sessions back-to-back, and my
mastery grew quickly.”
She says the mind/body connection allowed her to cultivate razor-sharp clarity.
“It’s the quintessential self care,” she says. “I love the beauty of the Pilates body. The long, lean muscles and ability to engage the core to do wondrous feats is art in motion. Think of a ballet dancer—don’t we find them breathtaking? When done properly, it’s graceful and functional.”
Although she’s not teaching as much as she once did, McCloud will soon combine her love for Pilates, community service, and her LGBTQ family by teaching a weekly Mat Pilates session at the Montrose Center. “It’s free to the community, and all are welcome to attend,” she says.
From the Big Apple to Bellaire
McCloud is originally from New York City. But, she explains, “I’ve lived in Bellaire forever, so Houston is home to me.” McCloud says when she moved to Texas she actually expected to see tumbleweeds everywhere.
Although that hasn’t been the case, she says she has spotted the occasional armadillo. “So yeah, some Texas stereotypes are true for us Northern folk.”
As a child, McCloud dreamed of becoming an ambassador to France. “As an exchange student many moons ago, I fell in love with the country and the city of Paris. I must have been a self-identified Francophile at a very young age. I was enthralled with the French culture, and still am. What a dream to be able to spend my summers in France.” Although she didn’t become an ambassador, McCloud began an equally impressive career.
Her path has been a non-traditional one, McCloud says, because she was a mother with three young children—who are now 26, 23, and 19—when she began her climb to professional success.
She holds a master’s degree in public administration, and worked on Capitol Hill for an elected official before returning to Houston to work for another member of Congress. It was then that she moved toward city government.
“My children were in three different schools with different schedules for a long time, and being an involved mother was very much a priority,” she says.
McCloud struggled with not being able to pursue her career goals as ardently as she would have liked. “But I also knew that my presence was needed with the little people who depended on me. As with most working parents, something will always be off balance. We must be okay with it and not allow the guilt to override.
“Finding the harmony between your personal life, parental obligations, and work is constantly shifting,” she adds. “On the other hand, being able to lead and develop a team in the workplace is a reward that keeps on giving.”
Fighting for Equality
During her career, McCloud says she has encountered few out lesbians like herself in the workplace. But that is something she hopes will soon change. “Being gay or lesbian, queer, or whatever name we use, it’s not a shameful thing to acknowledge or discuss. Hopefully, my message empowers others.”
“There’s power in visibility as an executive LGBTQ woman, because historically we haven’t been included around the table,” she says. “We are less supported by our male counterparts, and unfortunately a tremendous amount of energy is wasted by suppressing our identity.”
Serving on the mayor’s LGBTQ advisory board is vital when it comes to making the
city a better, more inclusive place for the
community, she says.
“I have a responsibility to leverage my strengths and unique experiences for others in the community by accelerating and curating change,” she says.
As for her position as co-chair of the Houston Police Department’s LGBT Committee, she’s excited about changes that are afoot. The issues she’ll be working on include family support, domestic violence, mental health, and health and wellness. Her hope is to be a strong presence and resource for the LGBTQ community.
“Everyone at the Houston Police Department plays a role in bridging the gap with the community,” she says. “I’m excited about the impact we are having with the department. If not for the support of our senior leadership, we wouldn’t be growing and gaining momentum. I’m honored to have the platform to help.”
This article appears in the January 2019 edition of OutSmart magazine.