Alicia Boles, a 39-year-old Texas City native who now calls Galveston home, says she wanted to be a veterinarian when she was growing up. Her mom, on the other hand, remembers Boles wanting to be a brain surgeon. In the end, she graduated from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 2005 with a degree in aviation and a minor in business administration.
Both her childhood dreams and her higher-education pursuits belie where she actually landed, as she is currently the co-owner of a women’s boutique named Pardon My French, located on The Strand in Galveston’s historic downtown district that showcases outstanding 19th-century architecture. Boles’ hip shop is filled with clothing and goodies adorned with unicorns and pithy sayings. One of those, “I have to have one of everything” kind of places.
Of course, being a shop owner is just one stop on Boles’ life journey. “I like to break life down by decades,” she says. “In my 20s, I was a flight instructor and a commercial pilot. In my 30s, I’ve been a small-business owner. As for my 40s, who knows what’s to come? It’s just around the corner. I do plan on trying out to be a Galveston lifeguard.”
After all, Boles quips, what is life if it isn’t an adventure?
“In 10 years, I hope to see myself in a successful career, hopefully photography-related, and possibly with a family and Mrs. Right,” she adds. “But I get sidetracked easily, so who knows where this new journey of mine will take me. That’s the exciting part. You plan for one thing, and life says ‘Nope, this is what’s happening.’ Whatever direction I end up taking, I hope that I am doing something that will help others.”
Boles’ friends and family use words like determined, caring, independent, and trustworthy to describe her. One of Boles’ close friends, Rachel Stokes, says Boles “holds the true meaning of ‘the L-words’—loving, loyal, laughable, lean, lighthearted, logical, level-headed, loved by her friends, and a little loca.”
As for how Boles describes herself, she says, “Well, I identify as a lesbian. It took me 38 years to fully come out. Now I’m all rainbows.” Boles wants to be known as “a truly kind and generous person who always made time for others and would lend a helping hand whenever possible.”
“More importantly, I really hope to make a strong impact on at least one person’s life, to inspire them to be who they are and to never hide what they feel,” she adds.
Boles prioritizes connection and community, and she’d like to see much more of that in Galveston’s LGBTQ scene. “There are very few organized events, and most are geared toward what I refer to as the three B’s: bars, brunches, and boozing,” she explains. “I will say that there seems to be a stronger gay-male community on the Island.”
As for Galveston’s lesbian scene, she says it’s mostly located online through social media. “I know a lot of that has to do with the ongoing pandemic and my own lack of a social life. [But] I do actually take the time to get out and spend time with friends and socialize.
“Call me old-fashioned, but I want to see you and speak to you in person,” she says, describing her dream of an LGBTQ community “where all ages are accepted, and where the focus is on building a better, more supportive community outside of social media. I would also like to see more activities and gatherings like ArtWalk, art talks, book clubs, or just grabbing a coffee at MOD Coffeehouse. There is more to life than just drinking.”
Boles is also an artist and photographer, and she plans to start a new photography business with a strong focus on the LGBTQ community.
“Being an artist has always been my outlet—my voice, so to speak. I am a very shy, introverted person, and I have always felt comfortable using art as a way to express what I am feeling and experiencing. Without art, I am without a voice. I do believe there is a strong correlation with my love of art and being a lesbian.”
Boles sees her past as “story” that forms the basis of what makes her who she is today. “I believe Lady Gaga put it best when she said, ‘Baby, I was born this way.’ I was born a lesbian and an artist.”
For more information on Pardon My French, visit facebook.com/pardonmyfrenchonthestrand
This article appears in the July 2020 edition of OutSmart magazine.