Founded in 2013, Lesbians of Color Houston (LOC) is a multifaceted organization that offers a variety of services and experiences for its members, including some large-scale charitable events that benefit the local LGBTQ community. Starting with just five members, the group has been able to grow to over 250 members and flourish as they set ambitious goals for the future. Although they have paused accepting new members until 2021, they continue to offer interactive virtual activities and seminars for queer women of color.
OutSmart sat down with Lesbians of Color Houston’s founder and director, Kendra Walker, who is also a software consultant and board member for Pride Houston and the Montrose Center.
Alys Garcia Carrera: Tell me a little about your organization—how it was founded, and how it has grown in its seven years.
Kendra Walker: LOC was founded as a Meetup group to bring professional career women of color together—women who were just looking for a lot of entertainment choices. [Then we realized we needed to be an] umbrella group for all things lesbian, so we did fashion shows, volunteering, mentoring, horseback riding, and even started a book club. At this point, it’s a lifestyle brand for all things lesbian.
Although we never wanted to make any money from this, we’ve been able to put ten thousand dollars per year back into the community.
What sort of membership opportunities are there, and what services are provided by LOC?
With a membership of 250 behind you, you can do a lot of work, and we really love to give back. We love to mentor. We really love to raise the profile of queer women of color, because a lot of times they’re overlooked. Opportunities for women are scarce. You have to fight twice as hard if you’re a woman of color, and even harder if you’re a queer woman of color.
How has COVID-19 impacted your ability to provide services?
The primary way we fund the group is through events. Since we currently can’t host any, we’ve been surviving off of our donations and events that we had prior to the pandemic. We have now started a string of virtual events that have done really, really well. And that has become an income source for us now, so that we can get those resources where they’re needed.
What’s the plan when things open up again?
The in-person events will be back. For example, we have a good relationship with the Ronald McDonald House in the Medical Center. We go there to cook and do arts-and-crafts activities for those kids of the parents receiving treatment in the hospitals.
We also feel like we’re going to keep this virtual component [of our] LOC events. So whether that’s a book club, a seminar, or a huge party, there will be a virtual experience to accompany it.
Our primary mission is always going to be to uplift queer women of color, because we feel like that is a sector of the community that needs to be seen. It’s one thing to be diverse, but it’s another thing entirely to be inclusive. I believe Houston is one of the most diverse communities you’re going to find, [but its ability to be] inclusive is a different thing. Diversity is giving me a seat at the table. Inclusion is actually incorporating my ideas into the conversation. So we will be advocating for a more inclusive community as [we find] our seat at the table.
Any special events we can look forward to next year from LOC?
We have our annual black-tie ball in March. We’ve been doing it for seven years now, and we always have a beneficiary. Then we will have our all-girl music festival, featuring a lot of the local lesbian talent on stage, that is usually in October. And our Super Meetup is where we bring together literally every Houston women’s organization, including those that serve women of color. LOC sponsors them, and it’s just this huge meetup in the park with 500 to 700 women out there. We’ll also do our ’90s parties, and we’ll do a lot of pop-up parties in between.