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
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
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'
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
Is Out & About specific to one location (i.e., Los Angeles or
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
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
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
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.
Marquita Thomas can be reached directly at