Lauren Morris came to D.C. in 2007 fresh out of high school to attend Howard University and found a home.
She majored in psychology, graduated in 2011 and is now a project leader at City Year, an educational non-profit where she works on beautification projects for D.C. public schools. Morris started volunteering for D.C. Black Pride in 2008 while still in college and last year joined the board. She helped plan entertainment for this year’s event as one of the organization’s eight board members (Black Pride details are at dcblackpride.org).
Morris says Black Pride is important “because it kind of celebrates two major communities that I’m part of whose struggles are very different.”
“Black Pride is the time of the year when we can come together and talk about those issues that are original to us as a black queer community,” she says. “It’s important to do that for all people from my age on up to 99 and it’s important to have that space, which sometimes is hard to find.”
Morris has been dating her girlfriend Kayla Rodriguez for about nine months. Morris enjoys food, yoga, singing, dancing, teaching Sunday school, working for Black Pride, playing the guitar and rock climbing in her spare time. She lives in Alexandria.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out since I was 18. The hardest people to tell were my parents. Though I knew they were open and affirming of other LGBTQ persons, I wasn’t so sure that they’d be as thrilled for their first-born daughter. Luckily, they were and have been very supportive ever since.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Every LGBTQ youth and student who has to stay quiet about their orientation for survival.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
I’m not big on nightspots, but you might catch me at MOVA or the Loft on a blue moon.
Describe your dream wedding.
My dream wedding, eh? To the woman I’ll be spending the rest of my life with, set for a date sometime during the end of August/beginning of September, small wedding ceremony (bridal party and immediate family members), huge reception (maybe a jazz band?), evening ceremony.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
The educational system and its effects on people of color.
What historical outcome would you change?
None. The stories of my people are stories of survival, of roses growing from concrete, of people overcoming against all odds. That’s something to be proud of, not change.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Being on campus at Howard University when Barack Obama was elected president for the first time.
On what do you insist?
Children and their laughter are a gift and the most beautiful and healing part of life.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
My last Tweet was “‘If someone hates me for my happiness, I ask God that he sends him happiness so that he forgets mine.’ — Arab Proverb”
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I believe in the universe and its powerful energies.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
This is hard. Be strong.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
The better question is who and that’s everyone I love.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That LGBT persons cannot be or are hardly ever in domestic violence situations.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Pariah” and “Imagine Me & You”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Women being forced to smile because it makes others uncomfortable if they don’t.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
My first-place, citywide spelling bee trophy. I was in third grade and my winning word was “lieutenant.” There’s a picture of me in my hometown newspaper with pigtails and a snaggletoothed smile, clutching my trophy. Adorable, really.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
Exactly what I had known at that age. I didn’t need to know any more because I knew all of what I needed to know. I’m just grateful for the lessons I was taught.
Washington is the perfect city for me. It’s far but not too far from home/Michigan and it’s not overwhelming like New York City but is big enough to have suburbs. It’s a cozy blend of suburbia and the city.