Stephanie Sandberg, left, Lisa Turner
Lez Talk hosting event with LPAC to help get queer women out to vote
Tammye Nash. |. Managing Editor
This year is “a critical time” for the LGBTQ community, especially for LGBTQ women, Lez Talk conference cofounder Stacey Stevenson said. To bring that point home, Stevenson said Lez. Talk organizers have decided not to stage the conference this fall, but to instead focus their energies on a series of political events aimed at engaging LGPTQ women in the political process.
“In light of it being a critical election year for our community and country, Lez Talk has decided to focus its efforts on disrupting the current political climate,” the conference’s four cofounders said in an email to supporters. “We plan on doing this by hosting, as well as participating in and supporting, organizations and events that support LGBTQ+ equality.”
In the first of those promised events, Lez Talk is hosting a gathering for North Texas LGBTQ women and allies featuring the executive director and political director of LPAC, the LGBTQ women’s political action committee.
The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. on Monday, March 9, at The Riveter Dallas, 3333 Welborn St., Ste. 100. In addition to LPAC’s Executive Director Stephanie Sandberg and Political Director Lisa Turner, those expected to attend include congressional candidate Gina Ortiz Jones and Texas state Reps. Jessica Gonzalez, Mary Gonzalez, Celia Israel, Julie Johnson and Erin Zwiener, the cofounders of the first Texas House LGBT Caucus.
The whole idea is to disrupt the Washington, D.C., status quo by growing the political power of women — LGBTQ women in particular.
“It’s about getting people, women, to understand what’s at stake here, about what will happen if we end up having another four years like what we are coming out of now,” Stevenson said. “It’s about realizing we cannot stay silent, realizing that we have power. It’s about information and communication, rallying people around the cause and truly understanding what is at stake in this election.”
Lez Talk this year is “really targeting this contingent of women that ranges from those who are already politically astute to those who see that we are going backwards right now and want to do something about it,” she said. “We want to enlighten people and get them mobilized for November. Essentially, we want people to vote.”
And that goal meshes seamlessly with the mission of LPAC.
LPAC was founded in 2012 as the Lesbian Political Action Committee, but the name has since been re-named simply as LPAC, with the L now standing for LGBTQ to be more inclusive, Sandberg said.
The organization was founded by longtime activist Urvashi Vaid, and she “galvanized” a number of other LGBTQ women who were, like her, “tired of walking into one too many rooms and [as women] being vastly outnumbered” by gay men, who made up, by far, the majority of the leadership in LGBTQ organizations and out LGBTQ executives and upper management in corporate America.
“Our mission,” Sandberg said, “is to elevate this community [of LGBTQ women] and give it a voice in politics.” LPAC does that, she continued, by operating as a values-based PAC that supports candidates — especially LGBTQ women candidates — that support LGBTQ equality, women’s equality and social justice.
Even though people tend to lump all of the members LGBTQ into one homogenous group, “our issues [as queer women] are a little bit different,” Sandberg said. And while LPAC certainly supports “our gay brothers,” she continued, “We are focused on creating a place at the table for LGBTQ women. We want to have a real impact and really move the needle, primarily be electing LGBTQ women to office.”
While LPAC hopes to “lift all votes by concentrating fiercely on LGBTQ women,” Sandberg said that those efforts in the past have been hampered by a lack of solid data. That’s why LPAC recently launched the nonprofit Project LPAC and then hired pollster and researcher Celinda Lake to “undertake the first. Survey and first research study to understand LGBTQ women and civic engagement.” And they mean all women that come under the LGBTQ umbrella — trans women, women of color, queer women of all ages, all income levels, all races, ethnicities and backgrounds.
“We have been thrilled” with the results, Sandberg said. “We actually now have a starting point to understand and define our communities, and also to understand what we should be saying to these communities of women to get them out to vote.
“That’s where the impact really starts.”
Sandberg said that most people don’t know about LPAC but that the response to the first two Lez Talk conferences — in 2018 and 2019 in Dallas — has “proven the need for and the excitement about lesbians coming together to have these conversations.”
Tickets to the Lez Talk/LPAC event in Dallas cost $50, but Stevenson and Sandberg stressed that there are options for women who want to attend but are unable to pay the $50 fee. Organizers ask that those who can afford to do so buy extra tickets to be donated to those who want to attend but can’t afford it.
“I want people to know, queer women and allies, that there is an organization that exists with the sole mission to build political power and presence of LGBTQ women,” Sandberg said. “And this is the year we really should be turning a corner and having impact.”
Lez Talk Dallas Presents LPAC takes place Monday, March 9, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at The Riveter, 3333 Welborn St., Ste. 100. The event includes wine and light hors d’oeuvres. Tickets are $50, and available via a link on the
Lez Talk Dallas Facebook page, Facebook.com/LezTalkDallas.