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Threat Against Cal State Northridge Marks 3rd Such Incident In A Week « CBS Los Angeles

Threat Against Cal State Northridge Marks 3rd Such Incident In A Week « CBS Los Angeles | LGBT Community Centers |

NORTHRIDGE (CBSLA) – Cal State Northridge was investigating reports Wednesday of yet another threat against the university.

In a statement, CSUN said a post circulating on social media claimed the school’s Pride Center was allegedly being targeted.

The university did not provide additional details of the threat.

A heavy police presence Thursday is expected at the Pride Center – which supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and questioning university members.

The incident marked a third threat facing CSUN in the past week.

An expletive-filled letter was found at the university’s Redwood Hall Monday night, threatening to hurt faculty and students Wednesday – the start of final exams. The note also threatened Northridge Academy High School, which is located on CSUN’s campus.

Graffiti, including a swastika and the threat of a mass shooting, was found in a bathroom in Sierra Hall on Dec. 5.

Another incident of graffiti, including multiple swastikas and “121218,” in reference to Wednesday’s date, were found scrawled on a bathroom wall two weeks ago.

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JASMYN breaks ground for new service center for Jacksonville's homeless youth

JASMYN breaks ground for new service center for Jacksonville's homeless youth | LGBT Community Centers |

JASMYN, the Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network, kicked off a $700,000 building renovation project Monday that will help the city’s growing number of homeless young people.

The Youth Safety Net Resource Center will be part of JASMYN’s partnership with two other nonprofits, Youth Crisis Center and Changing Homelessness Inc., to meet service needs of homeless youth ages 18 to 24, many of whom are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning.

The center will be in a newly acquired building adjacent to JASMYN’s existing two-building campus at Peninsular Place and Chelsea Street in Riverside. Expected to open next summer, the center will offer case management, showers, hot meals, laundry and other services.

“The center will enable us to really focus on ... being the ‘front door’ for homeless youth,” said JASMYN CEO Cindy Watson, and give them a safe “place to land.”

The number of homeless youth in Jacksonville grew 145 percent between the 2017 and 2018 annual Point in Time homeless counts conducted by Changing Homelessness Inc., the lead agency in the local effort to end homelessness. Of the 90 homeless youth during that time by JASMYN, 85 percent of them identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning, Watson said.

The third JASMYN building was a gift from supporters Paul Schilling and James “Jay” Dutton, Vilano Beach doctors and philanthropists who also pledged a $150,000 matching grant toward the renovation. Five years ago, they bought and donated the organization’s second building.

The Chartrand Family Fund Foundation contributed $200,000 toward the latest project.

To have the safety net center opening in 2019 is particularly meaningful for JASMYN, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary the same year, Watson said.

Meanwhile, JASMYN will team up with Changing Homelessness and Youth Crisis Center to provide outreach, safety net drop-in services, coordinated intake, wrap-around linkage/case management services and emergency housing, with a goal of ending youth homelessness by 2020.

JASMYN will conduct outreach, manage the safety-net center and serve as the primary case management team for the LGBTQ youth served,among other things. Youth Crisis Center will provide emergency housing services at their Parental Home Road campus and all three agencies will coordinate referrals to the crisis center’s mental health and other services. Changing Homelessness will coordinate intake and services among its member agencies and lead grant funding applications

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the Source LGBT+ Center named nonprofit of the year | Local |

the Source LGBT+ Center named nonprofit of the year | Local | | LGBT Community Centers |

The Source LGBT+ Center, an advocacy group serving Tulare and Kings counties, was named Nonprofit of the Year by the Tulare Kings Hispanic Chamber of Commerce last week.

In a ceremony held Friday, Nov. 30 in Visalia, the local organization received the honor.

“It is my privilege and my honor to accept this award on behalf of The Source LGBT+ Center. It is our promise to continue our work and be worthy every day of this recognition,” Nick Vargas, Source co-founder, past President of the Board of Directors and Director of Development said in a release.

The Source LGBT+ Center was presented the award by TKHCC President Carlos Mendoza and Vice President Olga Duran during the ceremony.

The Source has served over 3,000 in its nearly three years of operation.

While headquartered in Visalia, the non-profit hosts monthly peer support groups at Kings County Behavioral Health. The next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13.

The Source LGBT+ Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

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Council for Exceptional Children Collaborates with Pride Center –

Council for Exceptional Children Collaborates with Pride Center – | LGBT Community Centers |
Education is a field that is ever-evolving; as made clear in the mission statement of the College of Saint Rose, students need to work to serve the needs of the times. Now more than ever students in Kindergarten through High School are feeling comfortable and confident expressing their true gender identity and sexuality. The Council for Exceptional Children, in partnership with the Pride Center of the Capital Region, held an event in the Carondelet Symposium on Tuesday, Nov. 27 to talk with future educators about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning issues for students in the classroom.

The chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children at Saint Rose is constantly planning events for their department’s students to participate in, but professional development events of this nature have been rare occurrences so far for the club. This past October they hosted Jon Gilroy, a speaker who has cerebral palsy and is a part of the LGBTQ+ community; nonetheless, president Jacquelyn Fossati and her team still searched to offer more.

“I was teaching at Arlington Central school district in LaGrangeville, New York this past summer,” said Fossati. “My co-teacher was telling me that it was a really good professional development to host as often times we don’t know how to address same sex parents… and how we can help out students with something that can be difficult for them.”

Kelsi Taylor, the professional development coordinator for the Council, found the Pride Center of the Capital Region when looking for someone “local” to come and facilitate the event. The Pride Center has been in operation since 1970, and serves 10 counties in the area. According to Taylor, the Pride Center already does a lot of outreach within local schools; they do assemblies for students and workshops for current educators.

The council for Exceptonal Children, in partnership with the Pride Center of the Capital Region, held a talk in Carondelet Symposium on Tuesday, Nov. 27
“I think it’s a really interesting topic,” said Taylor. “Especially because a lot of our members are prospective teachers. It’s something that needs to be talked about, and a lot of teachers that I have worked with in the field dance around the topic so I think it’s important to talk about and be aware of.”

The Council for Exceptional Children has always worked to promote inclusivity in classrooms. This event was no exception. The itinerary presented by the Pride Center’s Jen Maley-Wheeler and her intern included need to know definitions, good common practices, what to avoid doing in a classroom setting, challenges faced by LGBTQ+ youth, and how to be a more inclusive ally and educator.

“The CEC has always promoted inclusivity in the classroom, and it’s more than just students with disabilities,” said vice president of the council and education major, Malcolm Brownwell. “This will send the message that all students should be welcomed in schools.”

The 25 students in attendance were offered a great deal through this first time academic partnership. Those who completed this professional development received a certificate of completion from the Council for Exceptional Children for their personal academic records.

Freshman english education major, Andrew Lamendola, said he learned things that he knows he will use in his classrooms for years to come. Other attendees such as Justin Campbell, Tristyn Koren, and Fossati herself concurred; this event was of great benefit to them in regards to their respective futures.

This upcoming semester the Council plans on hosting Safe Zone training for future educators and those who might work with LGBTQ+ youth in their future occupations. Those dates and further details will be posted on their various social media accounts when the new semester begins.

“It’s important that the students feel seen,” said Lauren D’Annibale, a former Saint Rose undergraduate and graduate education student. D’Annibale is currently a teacher at Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School, and member of the LGBTQ+ community herself.

“So many aren’t out to their friends, their families, sometimes not even to themselves, and it’s important that there is something stable in their lives that is supportive and open, and most importantly safe to turn to.”
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Affirmations Suspends Executive Director Search, Announces Layoffs –

Affirmations Suspends Executive Director Search, Announces Layoffs – | LGBT Community Centers |
In a Nov. 14 press release, Ferndale’s Affirmations LGBTQ community center announced that it has suspended its nearly year-long search for a replacement executive director and laid off three employees: Development Director Katie Koch, Education and Training Manager Becca Budde and Offices and Facilities Coordinator Ryan Fowler.

This notice come just days after the announcement of the community center’s Interim Executive Director Lilianna Reyes’ resignation, that officially went into effect Thursday of last week. The release went on to describe the financial struggles the organization has been facing in recent years.

“Over the past several years the cost of running a large community center like AFFIRMATIONS has outpaced the level of revenue. This has led to the continual utilization of reserve funds to supplement the ongoing shortfall,” read the release. “Thus far in 2018 a total of $80K was needed from reserve funds to offset center costs. This strategy is not sustainable for the long-term survival of the center.”
Board President Mike Flores said there was not a specific reason why the center’s financial struggles were announced when they were, but that the center had to “withdraw funds from the reserves to address cash flow concerns for the month of November.”
“In doing so, the board recognized that we need to take additional actions to prevent additional funds from being withdrawn from the reserves at this rate,” Flores said.

As funds stand now, Flores said that the organization has enough money left to keep the center open for another six months. The news of Affirmations’ financial woes came as a shock to many in the local LGBTQ community, especially as according to 2017 financial records the center ended last year with a surplus of funds.

“In 2017 there was a slight surplus which was (due to) the strong effort from the staff and that ED at the time,” he said. “Moving into 2018 again, grants and donations have to be applied for and have to be awarded on a yearly basis and unfortunately some grants did not come in as expected.”

Flores said that there is roughly $130,000 in grants that have yet to be awarded that are scheduled for 2019. He is hopeful that before the new year begins the center will have sent out year-end appeals for funding, and that he, along with the board, will have devised a more efficient strategy for not only gaining revenue, but maintaining it.

“In addition, we’re going to make additional efforts to do touchpoints with the community and with key stakeholders to make them aware of the current situation. And if there are any opportunities for additional donations then of course we would be extremely appreciative of any additional support the community would be able to provide to Affirmations,” Flores said. “Right now, this is what the next couple of months look like: basically, identifying what our existing revenue streams are, and are there additional revenue streams that we could tap into that we could work and align with.”

Flores said that he is reaching out to “subject matter experts” both from the Metro Detroit area and beyond to help the community center find ways to get back on its feet, along with stakeholders and former donors who have helped the center in the past. However, under tax law, Affirmations is classified as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. If Affirmations’ efforts should be unsuccessful, the organization will be required under law to give its assets to another 501(c)(3) if it should go out of business. When asked if either Flores or the board had given thought to any local organizations that they might consider to receive those assets, Flores was firm that they had not.

“The plan is for us not to go out of business. That is not the plan, so at this time we have not identified any of those actions because that is not our plan,” he said. “Our plan is to have Affirmations survive as an organization. That may look different than what it looked like earlier this week, but Affirmations is going to survive in some form and function.”

He said that the organization’s existing plans to restructure will reaffirm its unique mission to help community members “become the best version of themselves” and allow the center to become the “best version of itself.”

He added that as of now, merging with other existing organizations is not being considered either.

“With that being said it requires us to leverage the partnerships that we have so we are working synergistically with all of our partners across the region, so that way we are using our resources as effectively and efficiently as we can,” Flores said. “So, what comes to mind now is the Ruth Ellis Center. How do we continue to strengthen our relationship with the Ruth Ellis Center? … LGBT Detroit, how are we working synergistically with them? The Corktown Health Center, how are we working synergistically with them? Stand With Trans, just to name a few organizations. … These are organizations that are experts in their area and we want to make sure that we’re not overlapping with them.”
Flores said that the largest cost expenditure for Affirmations right now is its staff salaries.

“They support all the programming that goes on at the center, they support all of the management and logistical requirements to be able to support the community. That’s actually our largest cost on a monthly basis, hence why when we needed to tackle cost concerns when there was no other option available, we had to look at restructuring to be able to address the cost structures of the organizations and to prevent additional requests from the reserves,” Flores said, referencing its laid off employees and those whose positions have been removed.

However, Flores said that there are no current plans to lay off any more employees, adding that the responsibilities of those no longer with Affirmations will be distributed among existing staff and the board of directors. Flores left the country the morning after the announcement for a month-long work assignment overseas.

During a previous financial crisis in 2011, Affirmations was forced to take a mortgage out on the new building in Ferndale of $460,000, but they were able to eventually pay that off and rebuild a substantial cash reserve from better operating results and several large gifts and bequests. Flores told BTL that only $70,000 remains in the cash reserve account.

Community members can expect an update at the center’s next board meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m.
More information about the center can be found online here.

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Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center's Liz Bradbury on LV Arts Salon | WDIY

Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center's Liz Bradbury on LV Arts Salon | WDIY | LGBT Community Centers |

Liz Bradbury, Director of the Training Institute at the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown,  shares the latest arts and cultural offerings from the Center with hosts George Miller and Kate Scuffle.

Upcoming events include her current show, 'Channeling Rage: Recent Paintings' in the Center’s Fine Arts Gallery, and  the upcoming 'Art History from a Queer Perspective Classes - Series #3,' the latest in the Center's popular art history offerings. More information on the latest offerings are avaiable at the Center's website.

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At 25, LGBT Network supports, inspires next generation on Long Island

At 25, LGBT Network supports, inspires next generation on Long Island | LGBT Community Centers |

In June of this year, a rainbow flag raised at Hempstead Town Hall ushered in Pride on the Beach, a three-day festival that would bring thousands to Long Beach to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Such a gathering would have been unthinkable to most, if not all, members of the local LGBT community 27 years ago, when Long Island’s first gay pride parade stepped off in Huntington only after a hearing in federal court to obtain the permit.

Though this reality — one that includes federal marriage equality for same-sex couples — may be a given among millennials and Gen Z, its foundation has been painstakingly built by the previous generation. On Long Island, that generation has included David Kilmnick, 51, whose LGBT Network and its first major initiative, Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth, in 2018 celebrated 25 years of service.

The network has been a lifeline for Zachary Reyes, 21, of Huntington Station, who spoke in November at the group’s Transgender Day of Remembrance in Bay Shore. TDOR events, which got their start in 1999 in San Francisco, memorialize those who have died because of anti-transgender violence.  

Zach Reyes, 21, who has found support and inspiration at the LGBT Network, speaks during the news conference with LGBT Network president David Kilmnick and the New York Islanders announcing an anti-bullying partnership in over 200 Long Island and New York schools at the Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow in October. Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.
“LIGALY has been a place of welcome, a place of love, and a place of community for LGBT people,” Reyes said. “Without LIGALY I don’t know where I’d be.”

The network helped Reyes come out twice: first as a gay teen around age 13, then as a transgender person three years ago. Reyes, who's been accepted at Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie, works in retail stores at the Walt Whitman Shops.

“I don’t identify as any gender,” Reyes explained, asking to be referred to by the pronouns “they” and “them,” rather than “he/she” or “him/her.”

“My entire family, my Mom included, already knew that I was gay, but they did have a little bit of trouble with me coming out as transgender. LIGALY helped me to talk to my mom about what I was experiencing,” Reyes said, adding that their mom is “still grappling" with their gender identity.

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Reyes recalled being bullied and plagued by thoughts of suicide while in middle school. In 10th grade at Walt Whitman High School, however, Reyes met a LIGALY coordinator in a classroom presentation. LIGALY staff helped by drawing up a life plan, they said. Reyes visits the LGBT Network three times a week and volunteers as a trainer for programs that help other LGBT youths “come out” about their orientation. 

LIGALY invites kids 13 to 21 to hang out with other LGBT youths at Friday “OUTlet” social events. Same-sex dates can be taken each June to the annual LGBT Prom, which drew more than 300 teens this year.

“So many gay kids feel that they can’t do what they want because of who they love,” said Kilmnick, of Centereach.

At the Transgender Day of Remembrance in Bay Shore on Nov. 14, photos memorialize those who have died because of anti-transgender violence.  Photo Credit: Shelby Knowles
But at the centers, in Woodbury, Bay Shore, Sag Harbor and Long Island City, Queens, they soon learn that “there’s nothing more freeing than to be yourself,” Kilmnick said on a recent afternoon at the network’s Woodbury offices.

Kilmnick, a genial man with piercing blue eyes, took a visitor on a tour of office hallways decorated with “Coming Out Day” posters designed by Long Island youngsters and news clippings of major events in the organization’s history. The tour ended in a meeting room where photos of LIGALY alumni hang next to a full-size rainbow flag.

“These kids were all able to express themselves, to use their talents and be leaders, and they’ve gone on to pursue their dreams, comfortable in their own skin,” Kilmnick said. “They were allowed to be their authentic selves and enjoy life despite the challenges in society.”

In the past quarter-century much has changed for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people on Long Island — and in the nation. Indeed, in 2017 the Pew Research Center reported, “Two years after the Supreme Court decision that required states to recognize same-sex marriages nationwide, support for allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally is at its highest point in over 20 years of Pew Research Center polling on the issue.” The research center found that by a margin of nearly 2 to 1, more Americans say they favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry.

Rona Sinz read her poem, "The Price Paid," at the Transgender Day of Remembrance hosted by the LGBT Network in Bay Shore on Nov. 14, 2018. Photo Credit: Shelby Knowles
Marriage equality has afforded dignity and legal rights to same-sex couples, who can now walk into any municipal office and obtain a marriage license. Kilmnick and the LGBT Network have often been on the front lines of such battles, promoting acceptance, anti-bullying programs in schools and HIV-prevention education.

Largest in the region
Kilmnick said that with its recent expansion into Queens, his organization is now “the largest regional network of regional LGBT services in New York State in terms of geography and population served.”

Local LGBT activists credit the centers with providing a safe space, especially for people without other healthy social outlets.

Joanne Borden, of South Valley Stream, gives the keynote speech at the Transgender Day of Remembrance in Bay Shore. "They trained me to be an advocate and that started me off lobbying the Nassau County Legislature for transgender human rights," she said of the LGBT Network's place in her journey. Photo Credit: Shelby Knowles
“I feel strongly that these community centers are really lifesaving,” said Nicole Grodner, 36, of Bethpage, a union representative, who has visited the Bay Shore center and attends the LGBT Network-sponsored Pride on the Beach with her partner of 13 years.

"For people who feel like they don’t belong anywhere, that open door gives them a place where they can feel comfortable and a part of something,” Grodner said.

“The work that he’s doing is really important,” agreed Maura Spery, 59, of Mastic Beach, who moved to Long Island in 2002 with her partner, Nancy Sorkow, 60, a social worker.

As a sign of progress, Spery said, her sexual orientation wasn’t an issue in 2014, when she won an election for Mastic Beach village trustee. She went on to be elected mayor in 2015, serving until the village was absorbed last year by Brookhaven township.

Edie, 63, of Massapequa, who did not give her name, said that the LGBT Network's counseling services helped her to come out. Photo Credit: Shelby Knowles
But LGBT Long Islanders also acknowledge the challenges likely ahead, especially for transgender people, many of whom worry their rights may be endangered by changing federal policies.

Gregory Noone, 56, of Ronkonkoma, a former Long Island ACT UP activist who has participated in network programs, said the community needs to be wary of complacency. “The biggest challenge is we should not take things for granted,” said Noone, program manager for Thursday’s Child, a Patchogue-based nonprofit serving people living with HIV and AIDS.

“We live in a little bubble here on Long Island," said Noone, who married James Gale, 55, a bank manager, in 2006 in Toronto. "Even though we have marriage equality, it can be changed. A good chunk of the country thinks it’s OK to allow people to be fired just because they’re gay. It’s [discrimination] still legal in more than half of the states.”  

Same-sex marriage was practically unimaginable, and LGBT life vastly different, when Kilmnick was growing up in Far Rockaway, Queens.  

Devyn Egan, 18, speaks about his journey and experience as a member of the LGBT community at the Transgender Day of Remembrance. "The progress we've made over time just brings hope to every generation of trans people and the LGBT community in general," he said. Photo Credit: Shelby Knowles
“I knew I was gay as far back as I can remember,” Kilmnick said. “When I was 5 or 6, when people were talking about being attracted to the opposite sex, I knew I was attracted to the same sex — but I knew enough not to talk about it.”

Kilmnick learned about community organizing from his grandmother Helen Leonescu, a Democratic leader in Far Rockaway with whom his family shared a two-family house.

Kilmnick graduated from Far Rockaway High School in 1984 and earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations from LIU Post in Brookville, where he was elected student body president.

How it started

David Kilmnick cuts the ribbon for LIGALY's new center in Bay Shore in 2002 with, from left, Jon Cooper, Bill Borman, the Rev. Canon Denis Brunelle, Tom Maligno, Melissa Medina and Steve Halsey. Photo Credit: Richard Slattery/Richard Slattery
The idea for LIGALY grew out of a project to complete a master’s degree in social work at Stony Brook University. “I decided to create a curriculum to talk about what it was like to grow up gay, particularly in the suburbs in an isolated area like Long Island,” Kilmnick said.

For his research, Kilmnick contacted area schools and asked to make a presentation. Some districts said they had no LGBT students. But a few accepted, leading Kilmnick to believe he was on the right track.

“No matter where I did this workshop, a couple of students would straggle behind, shuffle their papers and ask a question: Is there any place I can go to meet other people like myself?”

LIGALY started with a half-dozen school districts, including East Hampton and Uniondale. Nowadays, Kilmnick said, the LGBT Network provides workshops or speakers in 110 of Long Island’s 125 public school districts, reaching tens of thousands of students a year. About 4,000 youths currently attend LGBT Center programs.

Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen and LGBT Network president David Kilmnick, with Randy Jones of the Village People, and Long Beach Police Commissioner Michael Tangney, raise the pride flag outside Hempstead Town Hall on Thursday, June 7, 2018, to usher in Pride on the Beach. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp
In 2006, the organization expanded to include “life-span” services for the LGBT community, Kilmnick said. A newer program is SAGE-LI, a social group for older adults. The network also continues to expand its educational programs, which include transgender awareness among about two dozen workshops offered to youth student leaders, Nassau and Suffolk police academies and other audiences.

The network has also been credited with a number of firsts: the Gay Parent Teacher Student Association it launched in 2012, and a Major League team Pride Night with the New York Mets in 2015.  

With 50 staff members, the LGBT Network has a $5.6-million annual budget, about two thirds funded by state and local government grants. The balance comes from fundraisers.

Among LIGALY alumni, James Quinn credits the group with saving his life.

“If it wasn’t for LIGALY, I don’t think I’d be alive today,” said Quinn, a Northport High School graduate who was 14 when he showed up at a LIGALY meeting, feeling alone and isolated.

“It [LIGALY] showed me that I wasn’t alone and that there wasn’t anything wrong with me, that I was perfectly normal and there were other kids just like me,” said the East Northport native who is the owner of an event production company in Washington, D.C., and an associate producer of this year’s March for Our Lives, the student-led demonstrations in support of tightening gun control.

Quinn, 31, who moved off Long Island in 2005 to attend college, has kept in touch with Kilmnick and the LGBT Network. Six years ago, when he was working in the Obama administration’s Office of Scheduling and Advance, Quinn arranged for Vice President Joe Biden to send a copy of “The White House Cookbook,” with a handwritten note, as a wedding gift when Kilmnick married his life partner, Robert Vitelli, in 2012 at Land’s End catering hall in Sayville.  

“I wish you the very best and I am proud to stand with both of you,” says the note Kilmnick has kept as a memento.

Biden didn’t attend the wedding, which was held the same weekend as the Democratic National Convention where he was nominated for a second term. But the vice presidential acknowledgment attests to Kilmnick as a rising national LGBT figure. Kilmnick went on to serve on Hillary Clinton’s statewide leadership committee during her 2016 presidential campaign.

In addition to working to improve LGBT life in the “now,” Kilmnick lists priorities for the next several years: opening five new LGBT centers on Long Island by 2020; building affordable housing for LGBT seniors, people living with HIV and/or AIDS and homeless youth; and training LGBT youths to enter the workforce.

“Everyone should feel free to come out and be themselves,” Kilmnick adds. “When it comes down to social justice and civil rights, equality needs to be afforded to all.”

For Reyes, the network and LIGALY have been both a support and an inspiration. LIGALY helps trans people “to keep living as we are without anyone telling us what or who to be,” Reyes said, adding, “I’m happy to have a platform to speak on these issues and preach love to anyone who’s going to hear me.”

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Affirmations Interim Executive Director Resigns, Joins Ruth Ellis Center –

Affirmations Interim Executive Director Resigns, Joins Ruth Ellis Center – | LGBT Community Centers |
Affirmations Interim Executive Director Lilianna Angel Reyes has resigned from the organization, effective Thursday, Nov. 15. She made the announcement via social media Nov. 9.
Reyes will be joining the Ruth Ellis Center later this month as the new second stories director. According to Reyes, she was offered the permanent position of executive director at Affirmations
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LA LGBT Center Will Reduce Free Access to STI Tests and Treatment as LA County Cuts Funding

LA LGBT Center Will Reduce Free Access to STI Tests and Treatment as LA County Cuts Funding | LGBT Community Centers |
The Los Angeles LGBT Center will be reducing free access to its sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment services because of a dispute with Los Angeles County over the funding of those services.

Darrel Cummings, the Center’s chief of staff, announced that a cutback in services is coming in an email on Wednesday, a copy of which was provided to WEHOville. The Center provides those services to West Hollywood residents at its Center WeHo at 8745 Santa Monica Blvd.

“It is with a great deal of regret that I inform you that within the next week, due to broken promises about appropriate funding by the County of Los Angeles, the Center will be forced to reduce access to our free sexually transmitted disease (STD) services at both McDonald/Wright facility and at Center WeHo,” Cummings wrote.

Darrel Cummings
“After more than a year of conversation with the County and after repeated promises made, we now have learned that the County will not pay the costs of testing and treatment services for all the work we are doing ,” Cummings said in his email message. “Last fiscal year alone, the Center was forced to redirect more than $1.1 million from other programs and services to cover the costs that the County now refuses to pay. Since then, we have continued to incur significant financial losses because we have been told that a solution would be forthcoming. It has not and it appears now that it will not.”

In the email, Cummings said the Center will be organizing an effort to put pressure on Los Angeles County to restore funding of the Center’s STI testing and treatment services.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Los Angeles County have been increasing rapidly. L.A. County reported over 85,500 STI cases in 2016 including approximately 59,000 cases of chlamydia, 22,300 cases of gonorrhea, over 4,000 cases of early syphilis and 37 cases of congenital syphilis (CS). From 2015 and 2016, there was a 4% increase in chlamydia cases, a 27% increase in gonorrhea cases, and a 16% increase in early syphilis cases in LA County. “A disproportionate number of STI cases occur among men who have sex with men (MSM), African American women, and transgender persons,” says a Health Department report. Forty percent of West Hollywood’s residents are said to be gay men.

“Our staff in the Community Health Programs have been doing an amazing job reaching those at risk for STD’s, which includes HIV, for testing and treatment,” Cumming said. He said that in the last fiscal year the LGBT Center “provided testing during more than 25,000 client visits. One result of this effort is that last year we diagnosed and treated 22% of all syphilis cases in L.A. County, thereby reducing the spread of this infection. Clearly, the Center is a critical partner in helping the County fulfill its mission and obligation. We are doing our part, but regrettably, the County and Department of Public Health are not.”

“Their failure to fund the services we have provided and the unwillingness to fund them appropriately into the future has brought us to a very unfortunate position where the Center is forced to amend the availability of our services at a time when our community needs us the most.”

“As all of you are being notified of this, so are our clients who have used these services,” Cumming said in his email. “We will be letting them know of this problem and providing contact information for key County people who have the power to make this right.

“In the coming days, you will start to see media reports and related materials at Center locations about this issue as we roll out a series of advocacy and mobilization actions that will engage clients, volunteers, staff, and donors. As part of these actions, we will be mobilizing with our community partners to attend the Board of Supervisors meeting next Tuesday, Nov. 13. We will keep you posted about all these activities and how you can get involved.”
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The Center Celebrates 40 Years of LGBTQ Activism with a Party at “Studio 54” - Local News

The Center Celebrates 40 Years of LGBTQ Activism with a Party at “Studio 54” - Local News | LGBT Community Centers |
The LGBT plus Center in Orlando will be turned into Studio 54 this weekend to celebrate its origins during the gay rights movement of the 1970s. The the activism of that era continues to be the driving force for the group 40 years later.

The Center’s Director George Wallace says the Center provided education and testing during the AIDs crisis. Then it was there to provide counseling after the Pulse shooting. Now it’s calling for more visibility for violence against transgender people after a string of local murders.

“There have been over 20 murders in the US of trans individuals and five of them have been in Florida.”

That’s why he says shortly after celebrating their 40th anniversary this Saturday, they’ll be marking National Transgender Day of Remembrance, with a new campaign to quote “say the names” of victims lost to transphobia.

He says it comes at a time when the Center is preparing to do more to support transgender people after recent efforts at the federal level to redefine gender. 

“Our rights are in question and it’s just so important to educate and advocate for basic human rights.”

The event will run from 6 until 10 at the Center with special performances from the Orlando Gay Men’s Chorus and Martha Walsh.


(Audio story - click to go to story page and get audio)

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Congratulations to member center LGBT+ Center Orlando on it's 40th Anniversary!

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LGBTQ Community Centers Shed Their Cloaked and Closeted Pasts | PRIZM News

LGBTQ Community Centers Shed Their Cloaked and Closeted Pasts | PRIZM News | LGBT Community Centers |

Stonewall Columbus will unveil its newly renovated center this month, while construction continues on a new home for the LGBTQ Community Center in Cleveland.

By Bob Vitale

They got their start around bar tables and in people’s living rooms at a time when there were no grand openings and ribbon-cuttings for LGBTQ organizations. The founders of Stonewall Columbus—known originally as the Stonewall Union—hosted a party for the press to announce their presence in 1981, but no press showed up.

The first landlord for what’s now the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland reneged on the group’s lease. An early sign for the center said nondescriptly, “The Center.”

Donors often gave cash to LGBT groups back then because checks would have tied their names to the cause.

Today, interim Executive Director Deb Steele is showing off the newly renovated and expanded Stonewall Columbus community center, which opens officially in mid-November. It includes three times as much space for programming and events, floor-to-ceiling first-floor windows that open the building up to passers-by, and a roof-top terrace with views up and down High Street.

“We’re not in the closet anymore,” Steele says.

The new LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland is under construction on Detroit Avenue.
Cleveland will celebrate the opening of a brand- new LGBT Community Center of its own next spring. Construction is under way across the street from the current center on Detroit Avenue. The new building will triple its space and replace what has been a basement home since 2000 with a two-story, glass-walled facility that makes the center much more visible.

The metaphor in these bright, modern LGBTQ spaces isn’t lost on Executive Director Phyllis Harris in Cleveland, either.

LGBT Center Executive Director Phyllis Harris speaks at the groundbreaking for Cleveland’s new center in December 2017.
“We’re coming up and out,” she says. “We want to be visible. We’re no longer in the basement.”

First announced in 2016, the Stonewall Columbus renovation keeps a bit of the façade of the 5,000-square-foot building at N. High Street and 4th Avenue that has housed the community center since 2004. It also incorporates an older, 2,000-square-foot warehouse that Stonewall Columbus has owned behind the building on 4th Avenue.

Together, and with the addition of a three-story space that connects the two buildings, the new Stonewall Columbus center has 15,000 square feet for meetings, events, programs and classes.

Everything from AA meetings to support groups to ballroom dancing classes has been dispersed to temporary locations in churches and city recreation centers during construction of the renovated center. They’re all likely to come home by Jan. 1, Steele says.

What used to be first-floor offices is now a wide- open event space that will be used as an art gallery day-to-day. Other large spaces can be used for yoga and dance classes, Steele says. There are enough offices to expand therapy services and STI testing.

A conference room and other spaces can be rented. The rooftop terrace atop the front of the building can host 81 people.

The new Cleveland center has run into a few construction glitches, Harris says, from the discovery of foundations for three separate structures that formerly stood on the Detroit Avenue site to problems with city sewer lines serving the property.

“There are always issues in construction,” she says. “We’ve been particularly unlucky around some of that.”

The result is a $500,000 cost increase for the project. Harris says. Although she worries aloud that donations for the construction effort already are affecting donations that help center operations—”we’re doing a lot of asking”—Harris says plans are coming together to make up the difference.

A $1.8 million gift from an anonymous “angel donor” allowed center leaders to announce plans for a new home on the eve of the August 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland. The donor has since upped that contribution to $4.9 million.

The new LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland will include rentable event space and a rooftop patio. Other amenities include a cyber center and meeting rooms. Perhaps its most unique feature will be a 380-square-foot retail space on the ground floor that Harris wants to use as a business incubator for LGBTQ entrepreneurs.

She says the center will add staff once it makes the move across the street.

In addition to the expansion of existing LGBTQ community centers in Ohio’s two largest cities, others have opened or are in the works elsewhere.

In Dayton, where 98 percent of people taking a 2014 LGBTQ community survey indicated their desire for a community center, the previously homeless Dayton LGBT Center found a physical home in 2016. The center is now housed in the heart of Downtown’s gay-bar district, next door to MJ’s on Jefferson on N. Jefferson St.

The center hosts weekly yoga classes and support groups, a monthly LGBTQ book club and trans community social, and other events.

In Toledo, public meetings and community forums about a local LGBTQ center have given way to what Equality Toledo Executive Director Analese Alvarez describes as more behind-the-scenes work. The local advocacy group lists “find a home” as one of its top priorities.

“As we continue to grow and expand our services, a physical space becomes increasingly integral to our work,” reads an Equality Toledo web report to the community. “A space of our own can offer a central location for people to gather for events,

meetings, and support. The space will be a symbol of our viability, strength and compassion. It will signal a long-term commitment to serving the area LGBTQ population.”

“It’s still our focus to open one,” Alvarez says. “I hope the community remains patient. We’re knee- deep in the work. It’s just not very public.”

Fundraising for centers in Columbus and Cleveland has been a success.

Stonewall Columbus reports that it’s 90 percent of the way toward the $4 million fundraising goal of its capital campaign.

In Cleveland, a $1 million goal—$500,000 in community donations matched by the Milton and Tamar Maltz Family Foundation—already has been met to open the new center building with a facilities endowment fund.

Harris has another idea to raise some money for the LGBT Center. It’s further evidence of how far we’ve come from the days when people feared sending checks and the only safe word for the sign outside an LGBT community center was “Center.”

She’s planning on selling naming rights for meeting rooms and other spaces inside the new Cleveland facility so individuals and corporate sponsors can let everyone know they support the work going on inside.

Bob Vitale is the editor of Prizm. Send him your comments, suggestions and story ideas at

The new Stonewall Columbus community center is located at 1160 N. High St., Columbus, 43201. Learn more about Stonewall and its programs at There’s a separate website for information about the new center at

The LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland is now located at 6600 Detroit Ave., Cleveland, 44102. The new center will be at 6705 Detroit Ave. Visit to find out about the center’s programs.

The Dayton LGBT Center is at 20 N. Jefferson Ave., Dayton, 45402. The center is online at

Equality Toledo is online at

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Attic Youth Center turns 25 this year

Attic Youth Center turns 25 this year | LGBT Community Centers |

The Attic Youth Center is celebrating its 25th anniversary serving Philadelphia's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth.

For a quarter of a century, the Attic Youth Center has served more than 20,000 LGBTQ youth in the area and Executive Director and Founder Carrie Jacobs says she's got her eyes on another 25 years.

"Future looks bright for the center and I hope the future looks bright for all the young LGBTQ youth we support," she said.  

Jacobs says the gala will celebrate the youth of today and the youth of the past.

"What's really exciting about the gala is that we have not only young people but also our alumni," she said. 

And what's a gala without a special guest.  

"From the TV show Pose, Dominique Jackson will receive our OK2BU Role Model Award because she is someone the youth can look up to and aspire," she added.  

The gala will be held on Nov. 3.
Tickets are still available, and all proceeds support the youth center. 

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902 - Center on Halsted hosts Orlando Traveling Memorial - Gay Lesbian Bi Trans News Archive

902 - Center on Halsted hosts Orlando Traveling Memorial - Gay Lesbian Bi Trans News Archive | LGBT Community Centers |
On Oct. 12, the Center on Halsted held an opening reception for The Orlando Traveling Memorial, a mural inspired by not only the Pulse nightclub attack which left 49 dead, but also the deaths of 2-year-old Lane Graves and singer Christina Grimmie in the same week.
Graves was fatally attacked by an alligator at Disney World and Grimmie was shot on the street after performing at a concert. The Pulse attack involved a lone shooter who attacked 300 patrons at a popular LGBTQ club with an automatic firearm; it is the deadliest incidence of violence against LGBTQ people in U.S. history. All three incidents happened in the Orlando area within the second week of June 2016.

Spearheaded by founder/visionary Colleen Ardaman, the mural is set to travel the country to "remember the 49 left behind." Ardaman, who spoke at the opening, elaborated on the art work for the mural, which included painted portraits of the victims of the Pulse attack by surviving family members, and the "I Am A Handprint Campaign" that collected thousands of handprints of police, first responders, medical personnel, officials, local citizens, volunteers and groups who aided in the Pulse aftermath. Ardaman said, "The mural starts with our volunteers—"the living part of the Memorial"—demonstrating support, compassion, kindness, humility and love to bring healing and restoration."

The memorial will be on display on the second floor of Center on Halsted until Nov. 23, and will then move to Amundsen High School, 5110 N. Damen Ave.

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Gay City has expanded E Pike library and resource center — and Three Dollar Bill Cinema as a new roommate

Gay City has expanded E Pike library and resource center — and Three Dollar Bill Cinema as a new roommate | LGBT Community Centers |

Capitol Hill’s Gay City has opened its new library and resource center on E Pike. It also has a new partner in the expanded space.

Gay City, which promotes wellness in Seattle’s LGBTQ community by providing health services, connecting people to needed resources, allowing for artistic expression, and building community, has maintained a growing library for years. The Michael C. Weidemann LGBT Library, at Gay City first opened in 2009, when the nonprofit inherited the LGBT Lending Library from the closing Seattle LGBT Community Center, and now houses more than 8,000 books..

“It’s really about making our existing resources more accessible,” Gay City executive director Fred Swanson said of the opening of the new, larger facility. “More space means more room for people to access services, and more opportunity for programing through the library.”

The resource center features plenty of seating — they’re still looking for a new food and drink partner (Image: Gay City)
The library might want to make room for a few DVDs and Blu-ray discs. Longtime Capitol Hill film nonprofit Three Dollar Bill Cinema announced this week it is joining the Gay City complex.

“We are excited to announce that we will be moving in with our long-time partner Gay City, Seattle’s LGBTQ Center. We will start our move over on December 14th and will be full-time at Gay City by late December,” Three Dollar Bill Cinema executive director Ben McCarthy said in a statement on the move. “This move will not only allow us the opportunity to work more closely with Gay City, it will provide Three Dollar Bill Cinema with an opportunity to continue to regain financial stability as we navigate through some rough organizational waters.”

In 2014, the organization behind Seattle’s annual gay film festival and summer cinema in Cal Anderson Park, joined a handful of nonprofits in office space in new 12th Ave Arts building developed with housing and theater space by Capitol Hill Housing. Earlier this year, Three Dollar Bill Cinema executive director Jason Plourde departed the nonprofit. The organization is hoping that savings from the move will put it on more solid financial ground.

The opportunity for the Gay City expansion came as neighbor Kaladi Brothers Coffee moved back to its old, overhauled space a few doors down at 511 E Pike. That space opened up when Sun Liquor Distillery moved off the Hill last year. Sun had been using the space as a bottling facility for its contract to supply “minis” to Alaska Airlines.

In 2012, building owner Chip Ragen overhauled his property — the old building was part of what was once intended to be The Michigan, a project that would have been the tallest building in Pike/Pine — to provide a new expanded home for both Kaladi and the growing Gay City complex.

Gay City’s “storefront” library and resource center, while open, is not yet operating at full strength. The organization, located at 517 E Pike, is still trying to build up staffing capacity to ensure that all of the facility’s resources are fully available during operating hours, according to Swanson.

The official opening will be in January 2019. It is currently open 11 AM to 8 PM Monday through Friday and 12:30 PM to 5 PM on Saturday.

The new space, which is approximately 1,125 square feet, will host literary arts and community events once fully functioning in the coming months.

“It’s exciting to be able to expand, and to create more opportunities for LGBTQ folks to connect,” Swanson said.  “We’re excited about all of the things that bring community into Gay City– testing services, community meetings, arts programing– and are eager to fill out the library calendar in the new year.”

Gay City has yet to choose a food and drink vendor to partner with in the space. Interested parties are still welcome to email the executive director at

Gay City is located at 517 E Pike. You can learn more at

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LGBT+ Youth Group helps young teens have a safe place to open up weekly

LGBT+ Youth Group helps young teens have a safe place to open up weekly | LGBT Community Centers |
SAN ANGELO, TX - Since the Open Arms Rape Crisis Center received a grant for their new building, they moved the LGBT+ Youth Group from monthly to weekly.

A member of the Youth Group, Vance Rogers, says, "I found out I was transgender about in fifth grade, and I'm in 8th grade now."

At just 13 years old, Vance felt as though he didn't have a place to be himself. 

"Though my family accepts me, they don't call me by the pronouns I go by and the name I go by because it's hard for them to face that I'm not who I thought I was. I don't blame them for that, but it still hurts," says Rogers.

That is, until Vance met Lanie...

The LGBT+ Advocate for Open Arms, Lanie Rogers, says, "we wanted to have a space where they could just be."

He became a part of the Open Arms LGBT+ Youth Group.

"A lot of these youth that come in for the first time, they are really shy," says Lanie Rogers.
One of the ways Lanie gets the youth to open up is to always start the meetings with the highs...

"It always seems to be the high of my week and what makes me smile," says Vance Rogers.

...And lows of the week.

"Junior high is really tough. And we have a few that at 11 or when they hit puberty things were happening that is too much for them and we have a few that considered suicide," says Lanie Rogers.

The youth group has facilitators, who are a part of the l-g-b-t plus community to help show these kids that you can be successful in the community and you don't have to be LGBT+ to attend the group.

"We also have their allies, some just here because they are here to support them and stand up for them," says Lanie Rogers.

A concept that might seem trivial to us, is a group that helps these you feel accepted and educated on who they are.

"Everybody seems to hear this, but it definitely gets better," says Vance Rogers.

To become a part of the youth group is free of charge, you just need to get in contact with the Open Arms office, through social media or even by phone number.
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New group aims to give LGBTQ needed support in Fall River

New group aims to give LGBTQ needed support in Fall River | LGBT Community Centers |
A local attorney and social services coordinator have joined forces to launch a non-profit resource center devoted to serving gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents.

“There’s a lot of great nonprofit work in Fall River, but the fact that there’s no LGBTQ-specific programs and services is what really stood out for us,” said Karina Valencia, co-founder of the new organization, F.R. Pride.

Valencia is public defender with the Committee for Public Counsel Services Public Defender Division in Fall River, and F.R. Pride founder Nikita Santiago works as a care coordinator at SSTAR — though the women launched F.R. Pride independently.

They were spurred to action in May, when they traveled to Boston to view a presentation on a report that found members of the state’s LGBT population still face discrimination, placing them at increased risk of depression and illness.

They learned of several organizations that exist to support LGBT people in Greater Boston and around Worcester. But when it came to Fall River, there was a need for a resource center attuned to the community’s needs.

Santiago said the nearest LGBT services center is SouthCoast LGBT Network, in New Bedford. Though Fall River is home to a sizeable population of gay and transgender people, visibility here is low.

Part of F.R. Pride’s mission is to connect gay, bisexual and transgender people with “culturally sensitive” medical and mental health care providers who are familiar with issues that disproportionately affect the community, said Valencia.

When care providers do not understand those issues, patients can isolate themselves, and can sometimes avoid the doctor, said Santiago. Some, particularly youth, may hold back from disclosing their sexual orientation to a doctor for fear they will be outed to their parents.

“Dealing with someone who is questioning their identity or maybe is still transitioning and their providers aren’t culturally sensitive, it can cause people to withdraw, it can make them feel like they don’t have support,” she said.

F.R. Pride will also offer support to parents of LGBT youth, who may be struggling to figure out how to support their children, Valencia said.

“There’s also a population of heterosexual parents with LGBT kids who are aware, educated, and who want to be more supportive and accepting of their kids, but maybe don’t have a network, or don’t know where to get services, or maybe just to have play dates with other kids,” she said.

The organization will formally launch in June, a date planned to coincide with LGBT Pride month. June is the month when, nearly five decades ago, when New York City police officers raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar, catalyzing riots that marked the start of the fight for gay rights in the nation.

One early initiative they’ve taken on was to arrange to screen showings a new film they say wouldn’t normally be shown in Fall River, Boy Erased, about a gay man subjected to conversion therapy, at the Picture Show from Dec. 7 to 14.

“It was important to get access for folks to watch it in our community and not have to drive to Cambridge or Boston,” said Valencia.

They’ve also built an online directory of LGBT-friendly businesses in the region, which is free for businesses and accessible on the organization’s website,

In the months leading up to F.R. Pride’s formal launch, Santiago and Valencia are fundraising, seeking grants and accepting donations by check sent to their 161 S. Main St., Suite 302 administrative offices with the hope of opening a separate drop-in center to serve clients in Greater Fall River.

More broadly, F.R. Pride’s overarching mission is to increase visibility of a historically marginalized population.

“Increasing visibility is not about making us stand out, it’s about helping folks feel more comfortable with the fact that in the end, we’re essentially all the same,” said Valencia.
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Future of STD testing and treatment by the Los Angeles LGBT Center uncertain

Future of STD testing and treatment by the Los Angeles LGBT Center uncertain | LGBT Community Centers |
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a motion on Nov. 20 to approve the allocation of emergency reserve funds for organizations, including the Los Angeles LGBT Center, for public health initiatives like STD testing and treatment.

The motion, introduced by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Mark Ridley-Thomas, will add $5 million for public health programs, along with $1 million in grant funding for clients with substance abuse disorders, over a period of two years. Pending the Health Department’s decisions concerning the allocation of those funds, the Center might be able to maintain levels of service for programs that were threatened, according to reports, by the organization’s dispute with Los Angeles County over funding for existing contracts.

In the last fiscal year, STD programming cost the Center $1.5 million, which was covered by reserve funds and other sources including contracts with LA County—which has supplied a consistent, flat level of funding to the organization, including in this case. High demand for testing and treatment, however, has depleted available money from contracts with the County.

Requests for funding increases from the County were turned down, to the surprise of the Center’s Chief of Staff, Darrel Cummings. He told the Los Angeles Bladethe organization was forced to draw funds from other programs—like meal services for seniors and housing services for youth experiencing homelessness—to cover the costs: “Every service we provide is impacted by our having to redirect funds from one place to another.” 

The Board’s motion for emergency funding was introduced just as the Center was prepared to announce cuts in free STD testing and treatment, following the discovery of an internal email from the Center’s Chief of Staff, Darrel Cummings, which was printed in WEHOville.

LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, author of the Board motion, told the Los Angeles Blade: “Local, state and federal governments have not been adequately investing in STD prevention. Funding has not kept up with the need and rising costs. Today the County voted to utilize our reserves to help The LGBT Center and other important community providers prevent STD infection, and we will do everything we can to find ways to invest even more money in preventing STD infection. We will continue to work with our local providers to advocate ever more effectively.”

Budgetary constraints have tightened amid a spike in STD rates nationwide, which has hit LA County especially hard. New gonorrhea cases nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017 among men who have sex with men (MSM), according to nationwide statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Officials shared the latest data documenting the number of diagnoses in the County between Jan. and August 2018. They found 5,337 cases of syphilis, 30 cases of congenital syphilis, and 16,654 cases of gonorrhea.

If the emergency motion was not introduced by the LA County Board of Supervisors and the Center was forced to comply with funding limits set by existing contracts, Cummings explained that the organization would have to cut STD testing/treatment services by 50 percent.

“Epidemiologists here calculate, in a very conservative fashion, what that would look like in one year,” Cummings said. “It would mean 8,000 people with undiagnosed gonorrhea. That would obviously be contributing to what is already a crisis.”

Cummings said public health officials must redouble efforts to fund testing and treatment programs—including those performed by the Center—but instead feels the County voiced appreciation for the organization’s programs while ignoring their efficacy.

“We’re diagnosing 22 percent of all syphilis cases in Los Angeles County,” Cummings said. “And the County has 14 of their own facilities—none of which are targeting the LGBT community. And [the County] doesn’t have to hold bake sales to keep their operations open. They’re fully funded no matter how effective or not they are.”

The Center’s cultural competency respective to the LGBT community is in large part responsible for the rise in the number of patients whom the organization is testing and treating for STDs. LGBT Californians are disproportionately affected by the STD crisis while the number of diagnosed cases in the state has reached record highs for the third consecutive year. Michael Fraser, Ph.D., executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), explained that local and community-based providers are often better trained to meet the needs of at-risk populations. For example, “The techniques you might use in the MSM community are really different from what you might use with pregnant women,” he explained.

The need to address public health challenges among underserved communities was addressed in the Board of Supervisors’ vote—which moved to, among other tasks, “Instruct the Director of the Department of Public Health to develop and release a solicitation within 45 days to support the delivery of STD screening and treatment services specifically targeting underserved geographic areas and sub-populations of the County.”

Cummings emphasized that the Center has historically worked well with the County on public health issues. “Even though I’ve been pretty angry with the County because of their lethargic response to this issue,” Cummings told the LA Blade, “that exists in the context of—generally speaking, over decades—having very good relationships with public health officials in Los Angeles and elected officials who care a great deal about these matters.”
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Ogden Pride begins campaign to raise $500,000 for a new LGBTQ+ center | Local News |

Ogden Pride begins campaign to raise $500,000 for a new LGBTQ+ center | Local News | | LGBT Community Centers |
Ogden Pride is looking for a home. Literally.

The organization, which focuses on celebrating and supporting the LGBTQ+ community, is seeking a physical presence in Ogden, according to Harrison Spendlove, board president of Ogden Pride. The group just launched a two-year campaign to raise $500,000 to purchase and renovate a home or office to create the Ogden Pride Center.

“We sat down and analyzed the needs of the community,” Spendlove said. “We have Utah Pride, but honestly, they’re based in Salt Lake. We just don’t have the resources the community needs up north.”

And among those resources is a physical space that would allow Ogden pride, and groups that align with its mission, to have a permanent space to offer services to the local community.

“It’ll be a safe space, a community gathering space, and a space for our youth program,” Spendlove said. “We want to create a sense of belonging, and a type of home.”

Indeed, Spendlove said high on the group’s wish list is finding an actual house to renovate — that way, it has more of a “home feel.” He said they’re also looking for something in central Ogden, in a safe cultural area, preferably downtown, that will be “visible to the community as a whole.” It also needs to be near public transportation so it is easily accessible to youth.

Spendlove admits it’s a tall order.

“Our initial vision is a home or house, possibly a storefront, in central Ogden, he said. “That’s a lot, but we feel like we’re going to need to be visible.”

And with a $500,000 price tag for purchase, renovation and initial operating costs, Spendlove knows the fundraiser will have to be a total community effort.

“I know it’s a tall order, but Ogden has achieved great things in the past,” he said.

Spendlove said the four goals of the new pride center for the LGBTQ+ community will be:

• Provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ people in Ogden and the surrounding areas.

• Foster an environment for gathering in celebration and unity.

• Educate the greater community on the issues and needs facing LGBTQ+ people.

• Support programs and resources that benefit the LGBTQ+ community.

Spendlove said suicide is one of the biggest problems in the state, and the LGBTQ+ community is one of the highest at-risk.

“We want to create a sense of belonging, and a type of home, to combat issues like this,” he said.

According to Spendlove, the new Ogden Pride Center will include a “youth zone,” a resource library, a kitchenette and conference space. He said he envisions the spaces will be interchangeable, and the new center can act as a community gathering place.

Ogden Pride would love to attract an “angel donor” to fund the new center, but Spendlove said any donation is appreciated. Donations can be made online at the website. Click on the “Ogden Pride Center” tab, then “Click Here to Donate.”

“All of those funds will be directed into an account, separate from our general account, that is earmarked for building the center,” Spendlove said.

Donors can also call 801-917-4588, or mail a check to Ogden Pride, Inc., P.O. Box 13353, Ogden, UT 84412.

The bottom line, according to Spendlove, is that Ogden Pride needs a greater physical presence in Ogden.

“We need a tangible space to offer the community,” he said. “We want something that people can say, ‘That’s Ogden Pride.’”
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Keith Haring Art and Activism Will Soon Be Featured at the SF LGBT Center

Keith Haring Art and Activism Will Soon Be Featured at the SF LGBT Center | LGBT Community Centers |
Although Keith Haring was just 31 when he died of AIDS-related complications in 1990, his iconic graffiti-inspired pop art and LGBTQ activism remain vibrant in everything from clothing lines to international exhibitions. On Saturday, December 8, his work will be celebrated in the Rainbow Room at the SF LGBT Center, with his sister Kay signing her best-selling book Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing (Dial Books, 2017).

Kay explains that she wrote the book to answer a question that she is frequently asked: “What was Keith like as a kid?” She answers, “He was always drawing.”

“What I most want people to remember about Keith is his deep commitment to community and his unending generosity,” she adds. “He also worked hard. He had a vision that everyone could be connected through art. He believed in what he was doing and just kept drawing!”

In addition to the book signing, Kay will do a Q&A. A portion of the book sale proceeds will be donated to the SF LGBT Center at 1800 Market Street. The book will be read by renowned drag queen and storyteller Honey Mahogany of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame.

The event will also feature a kid’s fashion show by Emily Payne from Project Runway. She is the designer of acclaimed kid’s clothing line Devon Rose. Legendary local DJs Boomzilla and Pete Avila will be DJing throughout the day.

An art sale of donated works inspired by Keith Haring will benefit the Center. Participating artists will include Angelina and Izabella Anguino-Jacobs, Rene Capone, Cody Furguson, Elaine Leon, Blue Logan, Jason Mecier, Karl Marks, Wayne Moraghan, Paix Robinson, Stephen Strange, Evan Venegas, Tyler Wallach and Jim Williams.

There will be Keith Haring-inspired art activities, with the opportunity to make arty buttons. Dog Eared Books in the Castro will be in attendance as well, selling art books and licensed items from the Pop Shop.

The organizers extend special thanks to Kay, the SF LGBT Center Community Programs team, Micha Oliver, Jim Williams, Honey Mahogany, Emily Payne, Pete Avila, Boomzilla, Clubcard Printing, Blick Art Materials, Dog Eared Books and JW Marriott.

Although the Noon–4 pm event will be free, advance registration is strongly encouraged. To do so, please visit:
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The LGBTQ Center Stage Sets a New Level of Excellence

The LGBTQ Center Stage Sets a New Level of Excellence | LGBT Community Centers |
Marking its 9th Annual Center Stage Gala, a new bar of excellence was set that makes this event one of the Coachella Valley’s premier must-attend events of the year.  The Center’s programs are designed to end isolation and loneliness and to connect people to resources and community.  Center Stage 2018 documented how effectively The Center is achieving these goals by reaching over 68,000 valley residents.

Center CEO Mike Thompson welcomed over 700 attendees.  He noted the unique quality of the evening’s program noting that “to be able to, in one night, pay posthumous tribute Dick Haskamp, a pioneer of the gay community in Palm Springs, while celebrating and uplifting the work of the new generation of LGBTQ young pioneers from the East Valley represents a perfect embodiment of the LGBTQ Center’s mission to help LGBTQ people along their way?”

The hilarious and witty Kate Clinton returned for the 5th year as Emcee for the evening with her gay and lesbian political perspective.  She demonstrated how humor gets us through “peacetime, wartime, and scoundrel time.”  She introduced brothers Will and Anthony Nunziata, singers and songwriters, hailed by the Huffington Posts as “a nearly impossible paring of talent, stage presence, and charisma.”  

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Longtime supporter and sponsor Harold Matzner and guest Delfina Zarate. (Photo: David A. Lee\Special to The Desert Sun)


The Center's Legacy Award recognizes the lasting impact made on behalf of LGBTQ people living in the Coachella Valley. Board Chair Brian Rix noted that “ It is without question that Dick Haskamp’s life demonstrated such a commitment. We thank Dick posthumously for honoring The Center with a gift from his estate, ensuring that even after passing he is still making a difference.”  Haskamp opened Street Bar on Arenas Road in Palm Springs in 1990, the longest-running bar serving the LGBTQ community.  He dedicated his life, time, and resources to the LGBTQ community.  His laughter was contagious, and he raised the spirits of all those around him.  Rix noted that “Dick’s vision, enthusiasm, and generosity was instrumental in helping make The Center what it is today.”

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Representing the Presenting Sponsor Eisenhower Health, Wendy Beerbower and her wife Robin Behm, Marty Massiello and husband Jeff Weyant. (Photo: David A. Lee\Special to The Desert Sun)


The Center highlighted its expansion into the Eastern Coachella Valley with a moving presentation by Center staff members Alexis Ortega and Miguel Navarro. The audience was brought to tears by several young Latino students who shared their stories of coming to terms with their true selves and how The Center had helped them in that transition. CEO Mike Thompson said “We are striving to be a Center and a resource for the entire Coachella Valley. We have been so pleased with our relationship with Eastern Coachella Groups like Alianza, formerly known as Building Healthy Communities, and our ability to outreach into those communities with our incredible staff”.
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Inaugural 'Pride at the Museum' raises funds for UofL's LGBT Center

Inaugural 'Pride at the Museum' raises funds for UofL's LGBT Center | LGBT Community Centers |

UofL is one of the country’s top LGBT-friendly campuses. | Courtesy of UofL’s LGBT Center
The inaugural “Pride at the Museum” fundraiser will light up the Speed Art Museum on Friday, Nov. 9, as a cadre of Louisville’s finest artists and performers come together to support the University of Louisville’s LGBT Center.

UofL is one of 25 universities named “Best of the Best” in 2017 by Campus Pride, due in large part to the LGBT Center’s work.

Brian Buford, director of UofL’s LGBT services, spoke with Insider Louisville about the fundraiser and about the kind of help the center offers.

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Jersey City and Hudson Pride Center Partner in Official Recognition of Transgender Awareness Week

Jersey City and Hudson Pride Center Partner in Official Recognition of Transgender Awareness Week | LGBT Community Centers |
The City of Jersey City and Hudson Pride Center will officially recognize and honor Transgender Awareness Week, which occurs from November 12 – 19, leading up to Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20.  Transgender Awareness Week celebrates and uplifts the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people and addresses the challenges they face in loving and living full lives.


Hudson Pride Center, located in Jersey City, is the largest and only full-service LGBTQ+ Community Center in New Jersey. Hudson Pride addresses social issues facing the LGBTQ+ community and advocates for change through community education and awareness, mobilizing community members through rallies, and creating safe and vibrant spaces for our members to live authentically, and celebrate their gender identities, sexuality, and lives.


When:           Thursday, November 8, 2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. 


Where:         City Hall Chambers

                      280 Grove Street

Jersey City, New Jersey 07302


Who:            Mayor Steven M. Fulop

Michael Billy, CEO, Hudson Pride Center
Elizabeth Schedl COO, Hudson Pride Center
Jennifer Love, Performance Artist and Trans-Rights Activist 

Sedrick Giacobe, Trans Youth Activist 
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Center for LBGTQ youth celebrates 25 years of service

Center for LBGTQ youth celebrates 25 years of service | LGBT Community Centers |
A Philadelphia youth center, that serves lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth in our area, celebrated more than two decades of service during a fundraising gala Saturday evening.

The Attic Youth Center, located at 255 S. 16th street, began in 1993 as a small, weekly support group. Twenty-five years later, the Attic has evolved into a nationally recognized, multi-service youth organization. Supporters and friends came together to celebrate the center's advancement and impact at the Once Upon a Time Gala inside the Crystal Tea Room.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, also in attendance, said the center has been a haven for children across the Philadelphia community.

"Here to support the Attic and what it does for our young people. People need to feel safe and that they have worth, and the Attic does that for children," he told KYW Newsradio.

Shawn Leavitt, board president, says the youth center has come a long way.

"It's incredible. I went to the Attic back as a freshmen in high school and I always say 'the Attic saved me'," he said.

Ibrahim Vicks, a former member, now works for the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia. During his time at the youth center he says he learned the value of giving back to the community.

"For me it's always bringing it back to the Attic, and trying to give back to a community that has given so much to me," he said.
CenterLink LGBT's insight:

Congratulations to member center The Attic on its 25th anniversary!!!!

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Rainbow Community Center advocates for LGBTQ+ students –

Rainbow Community Center advocates for LGBTQ+ students – | LGBT Community Centers |
More than 10 million adults living in the United States identify as LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and or Questioning) according to the Pew Research Center.

At Diablo Valley College, on the Pleasant Hill campus, representatives from the Rainbow Community Center in Concord held a workshop educating students on gender expression, LGBTQ+ terminology like pronouns and sexual orientations, and the rights of LGBTQ+ students.

“At the end of the day, it’s remembering what [gender and sexuality] means to them,” said Daphnee Valdez, the director of Youth Services at the Rainbow Community Center and one of the hosts of the workshop. “It really depends on how [gender and sexuality] makes them feel.”

The Rainbow Community Center is a non-profit organization that aims to create a community amongst LGBTQ+ people and allies. They also provide services for members of the LGBTQ+ community and host events and programs. The workshop, held on Oct. 24, was hosted by Valdez and Niq Muldrow, a youth outreach counselor, and a freshman at DVC.

Valdez and Muldrow also spoke about the disparities members of the LGBTQ+ community face, showing statistics from a study from 2015 by the Trans Survey Report. According to the study’s findings, one quarter of undocumented transgender respondents have been physically attacked because of their gender identity, half of those respondents also have experienced homelessness in their lifetimes.

The survey also states that respondents who have disabilities face higher rates of economic instability and mistreatment. 59 nine percent of those respondents were also found to be more likely to experience serious psychological distress, and 54 percent had attempted suicide in their lifetime.

In regards to the use of restrooms, 59 percent of respondents admitted to avoiding the use of a public restroom due to the fear of confrontations. Almost one-third of respondents also cited that they limit the amount of food and drinks they consume in order to avoid a confrontation. Because of this, eight percent of respondents stated that experienced a urinary tract infection, kidney infection, or other related problems due to this fact.

The survey also stated that 20 percent of homeless youth identity within the LGBTQ+ community, and 58.7 percent of them experienced being sexually exploited or trafficked.

“It’s heartbreaking hearing that students don’t know their right,” said Valdez. “We want to make sure that they know their rights and are not taken advantage of in any way.”

Alongside discussing the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community, Muldrow and Valdez also spoke about other outlets and laws that protect the rights of LGBTQ+ and transgender people that are considerably not well-known. Specific bills of the Fair Educational Act, established in 2011, were discussed. These bills included SB 48: the fair, accurate, inclusive, and respectful education act, SB 71: the California Comprehensive Sexual Health and HIV/AIDs Prevention Act, AB 9: Seth’s law which legally requires faculty to legally report incidents of discrimination and harassment towards LGBTQ+ students, and AB 1266: School Success & Opportunities Act.

The Rainbow Community Center also provided other resources to students who attended the workshop, giving them names of other organizations that provide services and protect the rights of LGBTQ+ students.

“As a person in the LGBTQ+ community, I believe that having outlets is one of the best things you can do for people like me. I, like a lot of people in the LGBTQ+, have to stay quiet about my sexuality around my family,” said Faith Novin, one of the student participants of the workshop. “It is very hard to find support and the Rainbow Community Center is doing an amazing thing by offering these resources.”

While people who identify within the LGBTQ+ community have received more legal representation and rights over the last decade, concerns still linger deeply in regards to the current presidential administration. The recent consideration by the Trump administration has urged to define gender by one’s biological sex, this was a topic discussed during the workshop. This effort is trying to be established by Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services, to organize a legal definition of one’s sex under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, according to the New York Times. Title IX states that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

This discussion has caused significant controversy and backlash from the LGBTQ+ community towards the Trump administration. Many have expressed concerns that if this change of defining gender is put into place, it would push back recognition of transgender rights. To those attending the workshop, with the Rainbow Community Center providing resources for transgender students, gave them a sense of comfort.

‘I was very pleased to hear that trans people have had more rights over the years,” said Novin. “But I am also sad to hear that a lot of these rights have been or will be repealed due to the Trump administration.”

According to Sara Larkin, the director of student activities at DVC, the Rainbow Community Center will return during the Spring semester with more workshops and presentations open to the student body.

“There are folks in our community who need our help,” said Muldrow. “[We want to] let those folks know who we are and that they have a place to go.”
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LGBT Network & Isles Announce Anti-Bullying Program In LI & NYC Schools

LGBT Network & Isles Announce Anti-Bullying Program In LI & NYC Schools | LGBT Community Centers |

LGBT Network President/CEO David Kilmnick and New York Islanders Co-Owner Jon Ledecky have announced a major anti-bullying partnership in over 200 Long Island and New York City Schools. Over 85 percent of LGBT students report daily verbal harassment in schools, with one-in-three LGBT students skipping school out of fear of bullying, underscoring the importance of this effort. The New York Islanders and LGBT Network partnership will address this epidemic in several ways.

The Islanders became the first professional sports franchise in any league to participate in the LGBT Network's National Coming Out Day campaign on October 11th. The campaign, in its 17th year, set a record with over 500,000 people participating in the LGBT Network's initiative. The Islanders also announced this season's "Pride Night," which will take place on Sunday, January 13, 2019, vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning, with a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales supporting the expansion of the LGBT Network's anti-bullying programs.

David Kilmnick, PhD, President/CEO of LGBT Network said, "The epidemic of anti-LGBT bullying isn't confined to school classrooms and hallways, it continues in the gym, on the field, and on the ice. The partnership between the LGBT Network and the New York Islanders will fight bullying in our schools and communities. As a life-long Islanders fan I bleed orange and blue. To know the team that I grew up rooting for is working to create safe spaces for all fans and players, makes me even prouder to be an Islanders fan and want to shout 'yes, yes, yes'. The Islanders and NHL's leadership role in support of LGBT inclusion in sports sends a strong message to thousands of LGBT youth and their families that they are welcomed and celebrated on the ice and in our arenas."

"The New York Islanders are proud to support the LGBT community in creating safe spaces for all," said New York Islanders Co-Owner Jon Ledecky. "Hockey is truly for everyone."

This historic announcement is being made on National Coming Out Day (NCOD), where more than 430 organizations, businesses, schools, athletic teams, government officials and others will participate in the LGBT Network's 17th annual NCOD Campaign to #WearTheRibbon. People across the United States and globally in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia participate by wearing a rainbow ribbon to "come out" in support of safer spaces wherever LGBT people live, learn, work, play and pray. Learn more about the LGBT Network's NCOD campaign at

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