Local Hero: Marquita Y. Thomas

Marquita Thomas

"It is the right of everyone to live freely and celebrate who they are without persecution."

Marquita Thomas is a Los Angeles-based activist and marketing strategist who formed "Out & About Events for Women" in 2002. As the leader of Out & About, Ms. Thomas produces an eclectic array of social, business networking and activist events. Due to the popularity of her blogs and overall social media presence, not to mention her inveterate connection with so many women in the LGBT community, she is often solicited to promote events all over the country. Some of the many functions that she has hosted include Ebony Pyramid's "Black, Gay and Lesbian Cruise to the Bahamas"; Girls in the Night's "Femme-Nomenal Weekend"; the United Lesbian of African Descent (ULOAH)'s "Sistahfest Retreat", and many others.

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In 2005, Ms. Thomas created the "Serafemme Queer Women of Color Music Festival", which attracts well-known acts from a wide range of the musical spectrum. In the years since, Ms. Thomas has booked such talented musical performers as The Floacist (of seven-time Grammy-nominated group Floetry), Sistas in the Pit, Jade Ross, Hanifah Walidah, and many others. Spoken word artist Staceyann Chin and rapper Best Inda Game (B.I.G.) have also performed for Serafemme's QWCMF.

In addition to her promotional and entertainment accomplishments, Ms. Thomas is a supremely active proponent and organizer in the LGBT community. She is a member of the Lesbian Visibility Committee (LVC) for the City of West Hollywood, and she has participated in the LVC's "Dyke March" both as a speaker and as one-time emcee for the event. She continues to be a vibrant member of the committee; through her zeal and persistence, she was able to encourage the committee to become a prominent sponsor of her Serafemme Festival, as well.

Ms. Thomas is also one of the few promoters of color at the annual Dinah Shore Lesbian Weekend held in Palm Springs. She has used her extensive entertainment and marketing skills to bring the largest and highest-tier entertainment for women of color to this festival as well. Past groups that have appeared include the American rapper Rah Digga, Eva of America's Next Top Model fame, MC Lyte and the R&B/Soul singer Goapele.

For her extensive contributions, Ms. Thomas has been honored with several awards. She has won the "Ladies Achieving Continuous Excellence" (LACE) award in Entertainment and the Arts from the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, and she has also received the "Pat Parker Award" from Christopher Street West for her work regarding the Serafemme Festival. In 2009, Ms. Thomas drew upon her extensive experience and effort to see one of her longtime aspirations to come to fruition by launching Serafemme magazine, a high-glossy arts, politics and entertainment magazine specifically for queer women of color. Currently, Marquita is the current president of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, which strives to increase economic strength for LGBT businesses, professionals & allies through business development, visibility, leadership and advocacy.

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