Stephanie Carpenter was raised in Cleveland and Porter, Texas. Having grown up surrounded by what she calls “a lot of wonderful, conservative, and well-meaning Christian people” who raised her “to believe that God hated me and I was going to hell,” Carpenter moved to more liberal locales – first Austin, then San Marcos, and ultimately Houston.
That was a long time ago. Now Carpenter is a Houston do-gooder who inspires a lot of people to the same. When she’s not working or helping others, Carpenter can be found spending time with Amy Drennan who Carpenter says is “without a doubt the kindest person I know.” Although they have three dogs, the two are hoping to add the pitter-patter of little human feet to their litter soon.
The two love to camp and fish, and, Carpenter explains, “We use running as a way explore our neighborhood or other parts of Houston, with our dogs. I like road cycling, too. I use some vacation time yearly to ride with the Houston Police Bike Relay Team. We do a cross country ride to raise awareness and funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.”
Here's Stephanie Carpenter's take on H-Town.
How long have you lived in Houston?
Since 2008...I found my lifestyle was too challenging for small towns. In Houston I just get to be me and no one really cares one way or another, as long as I am a good person.
What do you do?
I am a Houston police officer. I’ve been on the department for six years. I spent my first three years on patrol in the 5th ward and I loved every minute of it. For the past three years, I have been investigating crimes against children. I will be going back to patrol as a sergeant soon.
I donate my free time in the community and raise funds with some nonprofit organizations, but more importantly I try to make a difference every day when opportunities arise to help someone or to effect change. I think people sometimes don’t know how to get involved with nonprofits or they let it hinder their purpose to give, when in truth they don’t need an organization to give. Give a smile, a hug, a helping hand. Just be open to the opportunities to help and you will see those opportunities are all around you. I think there is only way to fight hate, poverty, and ignorance. Be love. Be kind. Be change.
What’s your favorite thing about Houston?
I love the diversity of the melting pot. I love to learn about different cultures and be a part of things different than myself. Houston has no shortage of diversity.
What always surprises you about Houston?
The kindness. People are struggling everywhere, but what I see is people helping other people. Life isn’t supposed to be perfect. The struggle makes us stronger and gives opportunities to give and have personal growth. Everywhere I look- rich or poor, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, gay, or straight- I see people giving and helping and loving.
Where is your favorite place to eat in Houston?
Breakfast at Baby Barnaby’s on Fairview is my favorite and it is a Montrose fav of many. I confess we sometime use our running adventures as an excuse to go have some of their delicious biscuits and Katz coffee!
What is your favorite thing to do in Houston?
Be outside. Anything outside, specifically at one of the many parks or festivals. Running or cycling or just hanging out with dogs, or eating on a patio with friends and family. We are blessed with many very beautiful days and I like to enjoy them outside!
How would you describe the queer community in Houston?
I would describe us as philanthropists. I think, in general, we all just love and want to be loved, and continuously try to make the world a better place by speaking up for those who cannot. There is always a fundraiser, or an activist group to join, a protest to stand in, or an opportunity to volunteer, being spurred on by one of the great many gays of Houston. We care for humanity and we keep trying to bring about change.
What is your favorite queer event in Houston?
My all-time favorite queer event is Bunnies on the Bayou- not just because it is the best party with the most amazing costumes, party favors, and interesting people- but because it is a fundraiser for a very important cause.
What is the one piece of advice you’d give to a queer person coming to visit H Town?
There are so many people out there. You will not be alone in Houston. Just get out and put yourself out there and you will find a plethora of friends who will become your family if you stick around.