by Megan Smith
The University of Texas Longhorns are expanding their rainbow pride beyond Austin this year with the newly established Houston chapter of the Texas Exes LGBT Network.
The LGBT Network originally started as a football tailgating group called the Gay Texas Exes. With over 600 members in the group, the need for a queer UT alumni organization became increasingly clear. After about five years of hard work, the LGBT Network became an official part of the mainstream Texas Exes, the university’s largest alumni association. “It was kind of just waiting for someone to volunteer and really take the reins,” Jamie Gonzales, leader of the LGBT Network Houston Chapter, said.
After hearing about the network, Gonzales was initially very excited to join and participate in the organization’s events. However, after her move to Houston for a new job, she was unable to travel to Austin for the network’s weekday events. From this experience, the idea for a Houston chapter of the group was born. “Once we get the chapters up, that will hopefully provide people who are moving out of Austin to a new city for a job with an opportunity to go and network and have something familiar,” Gonzales said.
By joining the organization, she said, members can connect with other LGBT student organizations, recent graduates, and professional alumni. The network offers mentoring opportunities for recent graduates on topics like being openly gay in the workplace, advice on dealing with difficulties transitioning from student life to the professional world, and ample opportunities for camaraderie.
Gonzales is currently looking for passionate volunteers and community members interested in board positions to help her with the Houston chapter’s big plans for the future. Once a stronger base is established, the network hopes to become more politically involved within the LGBT community and offer a scholarship program for Houston high school students who plan on attending the University of Texas.
Above all, the network seeks to support fellow Longhorns and is always interested in partnering with local alumni business owners, gay or straight, for events. The Houston chapter hosts monthly events such as happy hours and viewing parties for the upcoming 2012 UT football season.
For more information on becoming a Houston Texas Exes LGBT Network member or volunteer, contact Jamie Gonzales at [email protected] For other network events and information, visit https://www.facebook.com/txexlgbt.