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An Interview With Marquita Thomas of


I began a correspondence with Marquita Thomas about two years ago via email when she was promoting parties for women under Isis.  Unfortunately, because of Christine's illness, I was unable to attend her parties but I made a promise to myself that as soon as I could, I would.  Well, finally I was able to attend one such event, a horseback riding adventure early one Sunday morning.  Having not been on a horse since  well, we won't go there I can say I definitely had a good time, albeit a little sore afterward.  Horseback riding, paint balling, and private parties are but a few of the events Marquita Thomas hosts "for the ladies."  The following is an interview with Marquita Thomas as she answers some of my questions about Out & About and her future plans "For The Ladies." 

Q.  Tell me something about Out & About?  When and how did it start?   For how long?

The first OUT&ABOUT event took place 13 months ago during Long Beach Pride weekend. It was a dance party called RUBYFRUIT JUNGLE so named after Rita Mae Brown's Book. I wanted a name that would let the girls know that it was an event specifically for them without being too explicit.

I started OUT&ABOUT because I recognized the need to provide avenues for women to network outside of the clubs and internet. Not that there's anything wrong with either, but in a major metropolitan city like Los Angeles, I was shocked at how many women were making connections through the internet and I wanted to provide safe, nurturing alternatives. I introduced OUT&ABOUT by way of dance parties just so I could get the name and my face out there, but slowly branched out to outdoor activities, like horseback riding and "sister circles". 

Q. Were you doing events for women prior to the creation of Out & About?  If so, what types of events did you promote?   Again, For how long?

Yes, I promoted a dance party called "Isis" under the name "Third Eye Entertainment" in early 2002 intending for it to the launchpad for me to do the things I'm doing now, but the club where the party was housed lost its lease and I stopped doing the dance party. About a month later, I started promoting a once a month poetry evening I called a "Sunday Social" - open mic poetry sets with a featured poet and later dancing to reggae & underground hip hop. I featured poets like Sonja Maria and Bridget Gray. In May of 2002, I unofficially moved to Washington, DC for a year. When I came back, I launched OUT&ABOUT.

Q. Was there an event or personal experience that prompted you to create Out & About and/or promote events for the gay/lesbian community?  

I had a difficult coming out experience because I didn't have anyone to talk to. I searched the internet for what I call "sister circles" - roundtable discussions with like minded women - and didn't find any. I looked for lesbian-oriented support groups, networking opportunities, any medium through which I could make lesbian friends. Unfortunately, I found close to none. With OUT&ABOUT, I create the events I would have liked to have attended when I was coming out.

Q.  What types of events does Out & About promote or produce?

OUT&ABOUT events run the gamut from dance parties to outdoor activities. I have organized political discussions, Pride celebrations, barbeques, networking mixers, horseback riding and I also have a once a month dining club. Many of my events are done at cost, meaning you pay for what you get with no profit to OUT&ABOUT whatsoever. The purpose of OUT&ABOUT is to strengthen the community of women who partner with women by creating social & cultural events, not always profitable ones. It takes very little effort on my part to organize a horseback riding outing.

Q. Are your events exclusively for women?

99% of my events are exclusive to women, however I am coordinating a free Pride barbecue this upcoming Saturday, for instance, that is open to men as well.

Q. Have you served as consultant to groups or organizations to assist with the planning of other events (i.e., weddings, corporate events, large venues, singles' mixer, etc.)

I work with At the Beach Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Pride in the planning of their 16th annual Black Gay Pride celebration. I am co-chair of both the poetry and conference series. I have also been asked to be a board member for ATB (At The Beach - LA Black Pride) next year.

In addition, was also asked to co-sponsor the first gathering of A Burst of Light, a African American lesbian organization in Long Beach that organizes film showcases and poetry readings followed by a "sister circle".

Finally, I am currently on staff at GBF Magazine.

Q.  Is Out & About specific to one location (i.e., Los Angeles or West Coast)? 

Most of my events are specific to Los Angeles, however, I have just recently returned from Washington, DC where OUT&ABOUT along with Purple Diamonds of New York threw a major Pride dance party celebration at Club Daedalus featuring R&B singer, TRUTH HURTS.

Q.  How would you describe the clientele you serve, young, older, mixed group? 

My girls are mostly 30+ and very career-oriented. However, I don't discriminate so I reach out to the younger audience as well.

Q.  Do you provide live entertainment at your events? 

Yes, I have had singers, poets and painters at my events.

Q.  How do you find talent for these events?  Can singers, spoken word artists, musicians contact you via Out & About?

I have thus far used people I am familiar with, but I am always looking for new talent. Interested parties can direct their inquiries to events@beoutandabout.com.

Q.  Tell me a little about yourself and the progression of Out & About, or your promotional activities to this point? 

I am a former film development executive who thought I'd be reading scripts for the rest of my life not organizing events, but I really enjoy bringing women together. I have been amazed by the synergy of Black women, whether gay or straight, when we're together as one and I just wanted to create events where that could occur.

Q.  Where do you see yourself and Out & About five years from now? 

The response to OUT&ABOUT has been so great in just its first year, I can't imagine where it'll be in five!

Q.  What are your plans for the future of Out & About?

Suffice it to say, OUT&ABOUT will continue promoting quality women's events on a grander scale each year.

Q.  I noticed you also collaborate with other event promoters, tell me how this is going for you,  Out & About, and the other organizations, groups and/or event promoters? 

I have collaborated with other promoters and organizations, including ATB and each collaboration has thankfully been a gloriously beneficial for all involved because we all understand that we have the same common goal - to provide quality, professional events for women - so we can let go of all the other things that usually make for bad business like greed and ego.

Website: www.beoutandabout.com
Marquita Thomas can be reached directly at Marquita@beoutandabout.com

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