As Pride Month winds down, a new nonprofit is ramping up efforts to provide resources, training, financial aid, and networking opportunities for LGBTQ+ members of Houston's tech and creative communities.
Co-founders Alan Lett, creative director at event management company Staging Solutions, and Anthony Ferrell, a Microsoft store manager, officially launched Luminiris on June 25. Luminiris states that it's "committed to illuminating a new generation of the creative class seeking to pursue careers in the creative or tech fields — and give back along the way."
"Houston is a city overwhelmed with talent, both artistic and technical. We've also got a strong and diverse LGBTQ+ community," Lett says in a Luminiris video on YouTube.
The name of the organization is a mashup of the Latin word "lumen," meaning light, and the Greek word "iris," meaning color.
"We want Luminiris to be a resource for the community, connecting creative types with technical minds in a professional setting. We're hoping to foster deeper and more inclusive representations and ally-ship at the intersection of art and technology. Through Luminiris, we want to promote LGBTQ+ talent in these fields," Lett and Ferrell say in a June 24 release.
Luminiris is assuming responsibility for the Microsoft Pride Mixer hosted by Staging Solutions. Lett and Farrell started the mixer five years ago. The Pride Mixer will be the organization's flagship event, held every year on the Friday night before the Houston Pride Festival at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
Since the 2020 Pride festival and parade are postponed, the mixer isn't being held this year. But Luminiris plans to bring it back in 2021.
Throughout the rest of this year, Luminiris will focus on monthly virtual social events and online workshops for tech and creative professionals. It also will be collaborating with local networks for tech and creative professionals to help LGBTQ+ nonprofits and causes with graphic design, visual media, software training, and tech know-how.
"Too many times, smaller nonprofits are blocked by the shadows of larger, developed nonprofits. … I can't wait to see the impact Luminiris will have on those who were once in the shadows," Atlantis Narcisse, founder of Save Our Sisters United, says in the Luminiris release.
Save Our Sisters is a Houston-based advocacy group that serves cisgender and transgender women of color. Narcisse was one of the honorary grand marshals of last year's Pride parade in Houston.