Next up in our Best of 2018 series is the woman behind the fourth largest Pride Celebration in the nation — Pride Houston president and CEO, Lo Roberts.
(HOUSTON) — For the better part of three years, I had the pleasure of working with Pride Houston, Inc. as the volunteer committee chair. In that time, I made some of the best, strongest, and most long-lasting friendships I’ve made in my entire life. Mind you … those friendships were often punctuated by screaming matches and differences of opinion, but we always came back together in the end. From Pride Houston’s marketing director, Dan Cato, to its then-festival chairs, Cassidy LeBlanc and Monte Bachus, and countless others, I made some of the most supportive and wonderful friends a guy could ever ask for. But I’ll be real with you: when I got started on the production team of Pride Houston … it was kind of a disaster. There was, however, a light at the end of that messy tunnel made all the hard work that we as a team put into the celebration seem worthwhile. And after some leadership changes in 2017, that light at the end of tunnel became the first Black, queer woman president of Pride Houston in its entire forty year history.
That light’s name is Lo Roberts, and I’m quite happy — albeit, also biased — to say that she is one of those great friendships that made my time there an experience I’ll never forget. But that’s not why we decided to include her in our Best of 2018 series; her personal touch on my life isn’t enough to do that. What is enough, however, is the impact that she’s had on Houston’s LGBTQIA community in the time since and before she became president of this organization, and the work that she’s put into it in order to make it more inclusive, diverse, and representative of the community as a whole.
When I met Lo Roberts, I was but a lowly volunteer (just kidding; there’s no such thing; that operation doesn’t work without each and every volunteer) and Lo was the volunteer coordinator at the time. I remember watching her in my very first volunteer orientation and knowing instantaneously that I not only wanted to be her friend, but I wanted to be her a little bit. Not like … in a Single White Female sort of way. That’d be awful. But I wanted to do what she did, and I wanted to do it well. So when I learned that Lo was being groomed to be the next president of Pride Houston and that her job was opening up, getting it was as simple as asking for it … and from there the rest is history.
What I watched happen with Lo over the next two years was nothing short of awe-inspiring. The woman who was quickly becoming one of my best friends was being elevated to what is arguably the highest office in Houston’s LGBTQIA community; she tackled a messy lawsuit with Pride’s former leadership with poise, grace, dignity, and without ever having to play dirty; she turned around an organization that was losing the trust of its community thanks to the aforementioned former leadership by making diversity and inclusivity focal points of Pride Houston’s 40th anniversary celebration; and she made her rounds throughout the community to rebuild bridges that had been burnt — some we thought irreparably — so that the community could become a place once again where infighting was dulled. Being the president of Pride Houston isn’t an easy job. It’s a thankless job; it’s a job that is 100% volunteerism and that comes without a paycheck; and it’s a job that takes up as much, if not more, time than whatever 9 to 5 job you’re already still working. But Lo Roberts’ work ethic, her dedication, and her love for the community are unmatched.
“If you know me, you know my favorite quote would have to be, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’.” And that is exactly what I have made my life’s mission. Pride Houston is supposed to be a true representation of the LGBTQIA community. I hope to continue to make this statement a reality for that representation. It is important to me to give those with little-to-no voice a platform to stand on. It is important that those people who live day-to-day have an outlet to let their pride flourish. We are all one community, one family, and one culture in combination. We can move mountains if we all work together. I hope that, in the future, when people think of Pride Houston, they can see a strong-knit community making waves for a better future for all that identify anywhere on the spectrum.”
Join us tonight at Guava Lamp for Pride Houston’s Theme & Logo Unveiling. The 2019 grand marshals will also be announced at that time.