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A Champion for All

Poonam Kapoor is an advocate for equitable housing opportunities.

Poonam Kapoor

Poonam Kapoor is the real deal when it comes to real estate. A combination of her passion for uplifting the queer community, her support for other marginalized communities, and her devotion to service have led Kapoor to excel in both her career and various high-level volunteer leadership roles. Kapoor’s activism and career have made her a role model to her 4-year-old son, as well as the Houston community at large.

“I am a board member of the Victory Fund, which is a national organization with a mission to identify, endorse, and elect LGBTQ candidates at all levels of office,” she says. “I also served as the co-chair for this year’s Houston Champagne Brunch, which is the Victory Fund’s second-largest community brunch event in the country. It serves as a way to provide visibility for candidates and fundraise for the organization. This year’s event went really well. We had over 400 people turn out, including Annise Parker (our Victory Fund CEO, president, and former mayor of Houston) as well as Judge Beau Miller, Senator Tammy Baldwin, and other members of Congress.”

Kapoor, whose parents are from the state of Punjab in Northwest India, explains how being a part of a marginalized community makes her more empathetic to others. “I’m a Realtor, and I love to serve underserved communities. A lot of LGBTQ people are discriminated against, which goes against fair-housing rules. [Even with the laws in place], they’re still not treated properly.”

A heart for serving her community as a Realtor ultimately led her to connect with the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce. “One of the reasons I joined the LGBT Chamber of Commerce is because I’m a queer business owner, and I wanted to get the support of the Chamber of Commerce, as well as support [their work as a voice for our community]. Representation matters, and we want to make sure that we have our voices heard. Most of my clients are either queer, educators, or immigrants, so it’s an honor to support my community.”

“I love to help provide housing and a sense of stability for LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities.”  —Poonam Kapoor  

In contrast to the real-estate companies serving the high-end luxury market, Kapoor focuses her efforts on uplifting those seeking affordable housing. “A lot of LGBTQ people may have been adversely affected by a lack of employment, by not having inherited wealth, or even just  lacking the support from their families like a lot of folks have when purchasing real estate. I love to help provide housing as a way to create wealth for LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities like immigrants, women, and people of color. That allows them to take pride in owning a home, providing them with stability and a sense of community.”

Of course, a love for service doesn’t come without strife at times. “I enjoy service, but it can be frustrating when you feel like you’re going uphill,” she admits. “I always feel like I’m doing something in a positive direction that will hopefully affect people. I put a lot of purpose and meaning into the things I do, and sometimes I just need to relax.”

One way Kapoor relaxes is through dancing that connects her with her South Asian heritage—specifically, the Punjab folk dance known as Bhangra. “I love it! It’s a great workout, and it puts a smile on your face. I feel very proud to be Indian. It’s one of the many identities that I have.”

Explaining the lighthearted nature of the songs associated with Bhangra, Kapoor says, “They tell folk stories of farming communities, and the disparities between rich and poor. There’s always this undertone of bringing people together, regardless of differences, as well as bringing them into the fold of something they may not have experienced—all for the true pleasure of music and movement.”

For those who may not be as dance-inclined as Kapoor, but who still want to balance their work with community service, the Realtor explains it’s simpler than most people think. “One way is to just be yourself—be unabashedly proud of who you are. Secondly, you could mentor younger people. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Just make yourself available to different communities. And lastly, donate! Queer organizations get so little funding. From a foundation perspective, queer organizations get one percent of all funding, maybe even less. We are the bottom of the barrel, so give your money to your community.”

Reflecting on how impactful volunteer service can be in today’s political climate, Kapoor muses that simply existing as an out queer person is a radical act, in and of itself. And for those in the trenches fighting the good fight, Kapoor sums it up well: “We’re so used to taking crumbs because we’re not used to moving forward enough. Even trying is a victory. We can’t feel defeated—we have to keep trying.”

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Zach McKenzie

Zachary McKenzie is a marketing professional and freelance writer in Houston, TX. He received his bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin in 2014 and has lived in Houston since. Zachary is a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters and enjoys spending his free time with friends, exploring the richness and diversity of Houston.
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