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San Diego LGBT Community Center To Host Transgender Legal Clinic

San Diego LGBT Community Center To Host Transgender Legal Clinic | LGBT Community Centers |

"Law students from the University of San Diego are starting a free legal clinic Tuesday to help transgender people change their names and gender markers on official documents.

The San Diego LGBT Community Center will be hosting the clinic at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 6, and the first Tuesday of every following month. Robert Gleason, president and CEO of Evans Hotels and the clinic's supervising attorney, said the need for transgender legal aid is growing as the community gains visibility and as more people come out as transgender.

"Up until now, that assistance has been provided by community nonprofits and community members, medical providers and therapists, and they're simply just overwhelmed with requests," Gleason said. "So this was an opportunity for the legal community to come together and to provide legal assistance."

A. T. Furuya, the center's transgender youth services navigator, won recognition from a judge last year as being nonbinary — neither male nor female. Furuya, who uses the gender-neutral pronouns "they," "them" and "their," received a new birth certificate last month with nonbinary as the gender descriptor.

"It's not just a phase, and it's not just something that people are kind of making up," Furuya said. "My identity is real."

The process of legally changing one's name and gender on official documents is expected to get easier as California implements the Gender Recognition Act, which was authored by Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year. The law will soon allow nonbinary people to choose "NB" as a gender option on their driver's licenses.

The law also removes a requirement that an individual obtain a doctor's note stating the person has undergone medical treatment before legally changing their gender. Individuals will instead be allowed to self-attest to their own gender identity.

Government recognition of a person's gender identity can carry symbolic power, Furuya said, but it can also extend legal protections against discrimination and violence, which trans and gender non-conforming people experience at higher rates than the general population.

"If I were to report something — say it's abuse, say it's any kind of violation against my personhood — and I talk about my gender identity ... if (the police) don't understand something as simple as what my identity is, I might not be taken seriously," Furuya said.

The legal clinic asks people to schedule appointments by calling (732) 567-8394 or emailing

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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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Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center to receive Commitment to the Community honor | Local News |

Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center to receive Commitment to the Community honor | Local News | | LGBT Community Centers |
The Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center will receive the Commitment to the Community honor at the 14th annual Business Recognition Awards. 

The Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center provides services, professional resources, and programs that unite the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning community across lines of age, race, gender, and economics, according to its website. The center's purpose is to strengthen, support and celebrate LGBTQ people, families and groups.

The center, according to its website, "strives for positive social change through advocacy, community education, cultural awareness, and wellness programs that assist in the creation, development, and growth of LGBTQ-affirming organizations, institutions, and culture within the community at large." 

"We're very moved and honored to be taken up by the Chamber in this way," Jeff Rindler, executive director of the center, said of the award. "Our commitment to the community extends not just to the LGBTQ community, but to the wider community." He added that the center, which has a staff of four, has expanded its programs in an extraordinary way. Rindler said they have doubled their advocacy efforts in the past year and tripped their services to LGBTQ youth and older adults over the same period. 

The center also hosts social events, like its Drag Bingo, that are open to the wider community, Rindler said. He added that it will also advocate for anyone being discriminated against.

Rindler said the center opened its doors on Wall Street in Uptown Kingston in 2007, but the organization was formed in 2005. That was the year after former New Paltz Village Mayor Jason West performed 12 same-sex weddings, which were illegal in New York at the time, he said. Rindler said people felt they needed to form and mobilize. 

"We advocate, we educate, we support, empower, and, of course, celebrate," Rindler said. He said the center also stands committed to expanding its counseling and mental health services, to make sure people feel supported, protected and cared for. And the center itself is a community space, so while its priority is the LGBTQ community, other people can use the facilities, Rindler said.

Rindler said the center is also looking forward to holding three conferences next year, one for youth, one for college students, and one around trans-health. 
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Congratulations to member center Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center!

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Mental health director at local LGBT center speaks on suicide prevention

Mental health director at local LGBT center speaks on suicide prevention | LGBT Community Centers |

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, an international initiative aimed to stop suicides and the stigma attached to it. 

"So many people are afraid to ask directly, 'Are you thinking about killing yourself? Are you thinking about suicide,'" Dr. Jill Gover, the clinic director at the LGBT Community Center of the Desert.

Gover believes asking directly is the first step in ending an international public health problem.

"It's a very good time to target young people, to give them the resources they need to get help and to understand the issues related to suicide and bullying," Gover said.

She launched a suicide prevention and anti-bullying project seven years ago. The curriculum has reached more than 2,000 9th grade students in the Palm Springs Unified School District each year, educating students on the impacts of their actions, and identifying warning signs linked to suicide.

Gover said signs include "when there's significant change in a person's behavior, if they were doing really well in school and suddenly their grades drop, they were really interested in their friends and they hobbies and activities and suddenly their withdrawing and isolating."

Gover said she wanted to direct the project towards high school students as death by suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-34, according to the Center for Disease Control.

In the CDC's latest reports, in a nationwide survey, 16 percent of students between the ages of 10 and 24 consider suicide. 13 percent create a plan and 8 percent attempt suicide.

"I think the most important thing is to do everything we can to eliminate the stigma associated with suicide and suicidal behavior. Everybody experiences challenges and when they feel completely overwhelmed and they don't feel like there's any way out. Suicide becomes the only option they see at that moment in time, and it's so important to help them recognize that this moment in pain is temporary and an option in suicide is very permanent," Gover said.

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Artists with disabilities 'Undeterred' at Staten Island Pride Center

Artists with disabilities 'Undeterred' at Staten Island Pride Center | LGBT Community Centers |

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- A unique art exhibit centered around living with disabilities debuted over the weekend at the Staten Island Pride Center, where art -- and acceptance -- are are always in the forefront.

"Artists Undeterred" features creators and producers who identify with having a disability. Saturday's enlightening launch event was attended by a diverse crowd who packed the house.

"In this world there is no one size fits all. We are all different," said co-curator Milenka Berengolc. "And tonight that is demonstrated as we have artwork by artists who hail from Israel, India, Great Britain, Canada, California, Ohio and Kansas. It's a large multifaceted project.

Participating artists: Maize Arendsee, Kitsuko and Moco Steinman-Arendsee, Laura Cowle, Kathryne Husk, Anthony Tusler, Efrat Vaknin, Sergio Acevedo, Patti Durr, LeVar Lawrence, Rosary Solimanto, Ani Schreiber, Anjum Malik, Yiqiao Wang, Scott Upton, Ryan Haddad and DisArt.

Margaret Chase, co-curator of the project: "We are very proud to be a grantee of Staten Islands Arts from Staten Island Cultural Affairs for our project called 'Artists Undeterred,' boldly exploring disabilities, a forum for disabled artists to have their work seen. These artists have very strong view points and their artwork reflects their views as they explore their disability in their artwork.

"We appreciate everyone being here tonight -- and especially those who helped us put this evening together. It is gratifying and thrilling to showcase the work of disabled artists who engage directly and forcefully with issues of disability in their creative work."

The artwork will be at Pride Center in Tompkinsville until Oct. 1. Next up: From Oct. 20 to Dec. 30, the co-curators will exhibit a selection of entirely different artwork in the Newhouse Gallery for Contemporary Art at Snug Harbor.

"We are thrilled and delighted to have all of you here tonight and are so grateful to Staten Island Art and cultural affairs for their grant," Milenka said. "And thanks to Steve Wakefield for his keen eye or it might not have been as good a show. My passion is art and I'm a performance artist and I'm a disabled artist myself."

Milenka also read an excerpt from a Indian artist: "I never let myself down. My disability may be for the world, but not for me. First love yourself and then everyone will love you."

Also featured at the opening reception: Performances by Joel Francois and the Open Doors Reality Poets, who spoke about gun violence, as well as video screenings, refreshments and the pleasure of being surrounded by an exuberant crowd.

"One of the aims of this project is to bring together disabled and non-disabled people and to encourage interchange and dialogue about art, disability, identity, gender, accessibility and other pertinent issues," Margaret said. "There were many animated conversations going on and it truly made our hearts expand."

The Staten Island Pride Community Center, a full service center, hosts myriad programs that includes support groups, from Wednesdays through Saturdays. This project is made possible (in part) by a DCA Art Fund Grant from Staten Island Arts, with public funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

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LGBT centres in the US suffer from lack of funding and staff ·

LGBT centres in the US suffer from lack of funding and staff · | LGBT Community Centers |

LGBT community centres in the US don’t have enough physical space or paid staff, despite serving more than 40,000 people per week, according to a new report.

The report, which surveyed 128 centres across the US, found that one in 10 LGBT+ centres lacked a dedicated physical space, and all but one has a budget of less than $150,000.

The centres employ just 2,000 staff across 40 states, and rely on the work of more than 14,000 volunteers, who contribute nearly half a million volunteer hours each year.

A quarter of the centres surveyed had no paid staff at all, and half are thinly staffed.

The centres offer a wide range of services to LGBT+ people in local communities, including educational programmes on topics like HIV prevention and supporting transgender children.

The report draws attention to “a wide gulf” between large and small centres, with larger centres having better access to funding and staff than smaller centres.

Smaller centres are more likely to be cash strapped and are unlikely to have dedicated fundraising staff, which contributes to their lack of funding.

These small, underfunded centres are more likely to exist in communities with few other LGBT+ organisations or supports.

Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
The report found that centres need to build their capacity to fundraise and to appeal for more government supports, with the ultimate goal of investing in more full-time staff and board development.

It also suggests that centres need to continue to improve their public education programmes and to focus more on advocacy work.

Speaking to NBC News, Naomi Goldberg, a lead author on the report, spoke about the conditions centres like these operate under.

“People often think of LGBT centres as huge organisations, like centres in LA or other big cities.

“But there’s centers in rural areas like South Dakota that are also on the front lines, without many resources.”

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Shenandoah LGBTQ Center listening session draws more than 50 attendees

Shenandoah LGBTQ Center listening session draws more than 50 attendees | LGBT Community Centers |

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, more than 50 people came to Shenandoah LGBTQ Center's first listening session hosted by LGBT Tech on Aug. 4. 

Now in the organizational planning stages, learning from the community what resources they need is essential to organizers in their efforts moving forward.

“I am amazed by the turnout we had Saturday afternoon,” says Chris Wood, executive director of LGBT Tech. “When I made the initial announcement less than a month ago, I had no idea how the community would react. Then on a sunny Saturday afternoon the community came out to participate in a process designed to make certain each individual’s voice was heard through their participation."

Listening Session attendees went through an exercise where they had the opportunity to write their thoughts, concerns and ideas on Post-It notes and place them onto various topics regarding the needs of the community, such as legal, education, health and wellness, friends and family and community resources and housing. 

Issues requiring deeper discussion were placed in the “parking lot” and “dreams” categories to be included in future listening sessions.

Ideas discussed were as diverse as the participants. A sampling of the groups' ideas included adoption and child custody, education on LGBTQ history, HIV testing, access and PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis), dissemination of information in the community, supporting members of the LGBTQ community at all stages of life (including youth, elderly, family and intergenerational), and safe space training for community members. 

“This is a community based effort,” says Wood. “Having the entire community speak, and for us to listen is really important to me as we move forward with the Shenandoah LGBTQ Center.”

The Shenandoah LGBTQ Center was announced on July 13 in response to the severe lack of resources available in the Shenandoah Valley and Greater Appalachian region for LGBTQ individuals and their families. The initiative is led by community members and supported by LGBT Tech in Staunton. 

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Guilford Green’s LGBTQ community center opens

Guilford Green’s LGBTQ community center opens | LGBT Community Centers |

By the time 1:30 p.m. rolled around, half of the rainbow cake had been eaten. The platter of cookies studded with rainbow M&Ms, however, remained intact.

Around the corner, a community library comprised of books and movies — Out and Running, Milk — filled the shelves. On a couch, multicolor pillows invited visitors to sit and make themselves comfortable.

It was finally here.

Dozens gathered to celebrate the opening of the long-awaited LGBT center in Greensboro on the afternoon of July 27. The center, which spans about 1,300 square feet, is a part of the Guilford Green Foundation and is housed inside the GGF office, tucked away on the second floor of a building off West Bessemer Avenue.

“This is a true community center,” said Jennifer Ruppe, who is both the center and GGF’s executive director. “We’re a good first place to call if you need anything.”

Ruppe, who is a lesbian, is the only full-time staff member at the new facility and hopes that the center grows as more and more people learn about its existence.

“We want to make sure we build programs that are inclusive of everyone on the spectrum,” she said.

After hosting focus groups, the center decided to hone in on three populations within the LGBTQ+ community for its programs: those 55 and up, which Ruppe calls the “Gay and Gray” group; youth, comprising anyone 12-19 years of age; and those who identify as transgender.

“Greensboro didn’t have a center,” Ruppe said, “so we had to figure out what the community wanted and needed.”

As the third-largest city in the state by population, many felt that a community resource like this should have been available years ago. Other cities like Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, Asheville, and even neighboring Winston-Salem, all have centers of their own.

“It’s not just important for the LGBTQ community, it’s better for Greensboro,” said Bert Davis Jr., a member of the center’s board.

In addition to its programs, the new facility has a meeting area that’s big enough for 30 people to gather. It also has a wall of resources with pamphlets for LGBTQ-friendly churches, health services, support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous meeting times and more. Among them is Prismatic Speech, a speech-therapy business run by Kevin Dorman, who is transgender. Dorman, who made their rounds at the opening handing out business cards, is a licensed speech-language pathologist, or someone who works with clients on issues surrounding speech, language, swallowing, and voice issues. They host free monthly vocal training sessions at the center for transgender individuals.

“I help people who are just starting to explore their voice,” said Dorman, who discovered they were transgender six years ago while studying at UNCG. They say their love of language combined with their own experiences as a transgender person propelled them to help others in the community.

“I wish I had something like this when I was growing up,” Dorman said. “Figuring out who I am would have been easier.”

Glenda Wilkinson, who found out about the opening through her church, is straight but a mother to two lesbian women. She said that growing up in the ’70s, the only mention of those who identified as LGBTQ were slurs.

“There were never resources available,” Wilkinson said. “I had friends who were gay but no one talked about it.”

She’s already signed up as a volunteer.

The progression of the afternoon brought with it new tides of visitors both old and young. A political candidate even made an appearance.

Larry L. Archie, who is running for district court judge in Guilford County, wore a skimmer hat and bowtie to the opening. He noted the importance of a center like this to keep marginalized individuals from becoming potential delinquents.

“There’s a stigma associated with LGBTQ and we need programs for people to not act out,” Archie said. “We need resources for children who are experiencing difficulties with figuring out who they want to be.”

While a correlation between crime and sexual orientation or gender identity hasn’t been found, LGBTQ status does correlate with higher rates of homelessness, bullying in schools and being victimized by harassment.

Davis Jr., who grew up in Greensboro as a gay man, notes the importance of having a safe space specifically for the LGBTQ community.

“The center gives people the support they need, and knowing that it’s here sends a signal,” Davis Jr. said. “It makes ­Greensboro a better place to live.”

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Santa Cruz’s Diversity Center puts on transgender self-defense class

Santa Cruz’s Diversity Center puts on transgender self-defense class | LGBT Community Centers |

SANTA CRUZ >> Kayanu Hoffman knows self-defense can empower people in the right situation. And for the LGBTQ community, confidence is something needed when being attacked.

“It’s like, we’re inevitably in a less confident state. How are we supposed to be confident in ourselves and our identity when there’s not really a place for us?” said Hoffman. “You go outside, and you get stared at in not good ways. You’re not getting jobs. You’re just getting discriminated against.”

As a transgender, nonbinary person who goes by the pronoun they, Hoffman can relate the fear and anxiety the LGBTQ community faces each day. That mindset is what they are trying to change by teaching a self-defense class for transgender and nonbinary people. On Friday, Hoffman led a self-defense class which is put on by the Diversity Center.

The self-defense class came because people were asking about it, said Ezra Bowen, transgender program coordinator for the Diversity Center.

“Judging from the stories I hear and class I’ve been to, [this self-defense class] is pretty relevant,” Bowen said. “Some folks just don’t feel safe walking down the street.”

Both Bowen and Hoffman said they have friends who have been attacked and intimidated because of their gender and sexuality.

“No one likes to feel scared, out of place and targeted,” Bowen said. “And in the case that we do face discrimination, violence or assault, sometimes running away isn’t good enough. We need to be equipped with these skills or things can be a lot worse.”

Nationally, the U.S. saw 1,076 hate crimes based on sexual orientation and 124 based on gender identity bias, based on FBI statistics from 2016.

The class is part of the Diversity Center’s slate of programs for transgender and nonbinary people, such as the transmasculine support group and alcoholics anonymous for transgender people.

“You know if it’s a queer space, everyone there is going to be queer friendly,” said Carson Boumengreen, who came to the class. “If it’s just a general public event, I don’t know who there is or is not friendly. I just feel like I’d have to keep my guard up more.”

The content of the class was no different than any other self-defense class. Hoffman focused on simple but effective moves that participants could use. They practiced palm strikes and punches that could potentially break noses of assailants. Hoffman showed them what to do when pinned to the ground.

“It’s tailored to the context that trans, nonbinary people might be attacked,” they said. “But it’s not different in the sense of actual techniques.”

There was little mention of how people should fight based on gender. Size, agility and recognizing danger were the focus of each talking point. Throughout the hour-long class, participants switched between yelling loudly while throwing punches and laughing at Hoffman’s jokes.

At one point, Hoffman and the class were lying on their backs discussing how to best kick an attacker in the groin or knee. Students wriggled and contorted to defend against an imaginary person before Hoffman stopped them.

“And pose,” they said, striking a model pose on the ground, to elicit laughter.

While Hoffman focused much of the class on how to strike back against potential attackers, they didn’t hesitate to talk about stopping a fight before it starts.

“Your first form of self-defense is your ability to leave and then diffuse a violent situation,” they said.

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Los Angeles LGBT Center Will Host Two LA Movie Premieres

Los Angeles LGBT Center Will Host Two LA Movie Premieres | LGBT Community Centers |
Los Angeles LGBT Center's Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center and StandOut Productions have announced a special, one-night-only event - the Los Angeles premiere screening of the latest work from award-winning filmmaker Andrea Meyerson. The award-winning Getting Started and One Way Street, both written and directed by Ms. Meyerson, make their LA debuts at the Center's Renberg Theatre on Saturday, August 25, at 7:30pm.

Getting Started had its world premiere in April 2018 at OUTShine Film Festival where it won the Audience Award for Best Short Film. It has also won the Audience Choice Award and Lily Tomlin Best of Fest Award at Cinema Systers Film Festival, and Best Comedy Short Film at the Kansas City LGBT Film Festival. The movie tells the story of Tori and Joy who, after meeting online, have their first date and chemistry ensues. But will their mutual attraction be enough to overcome the challenges that arise? Release date: April 2018. Running time: 23 minutes.

One Way Street explores what happens when your desire drives you in the wrong direction. Revved up by passion and ignoring all the signs, three people set out to fulfill their fantasies. Release date: March 2017. Running time: 14 minutes

The evening's activities will include a VIP pre-reception, a Q & A with cast and crew, and an after party with complimentary food buffet, full no-host bar, and dancing under the stars with DJ Stacy Christine.

General admission tickets are $30 and include the screenings, Q & A, and after party. The $50 VIP ticket will include the general admission items, a hosted wine and cheese pre-reception with cast and crew, red carpet, photo opportunities, and preferred seating for the film program. Tickets may be purchased online at or by phone at (323) 860-7300. Net proceeds from all ticket sales will support the full range of free and low-cost programs and services offered by the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

Los Angeles LGBT Center's Renberg Theatre is located at 1125 N. McCadden Place (one block east of Highland, just north of Santa Monica Boulevard), in Hollywood, 90038.
Matt Skallerud's curator insight, July 27, 7:14 AM

Getting Started had its world premiere in April 2018 at OUTShine Film Festival where it won the Audience Award for Best Short Film. It has also won the Audience Choice Award and Lily Tomlin Best of Fest Award at Cinema Systers Film Festival, and Best Comedy Short Film at the Kansas City LGBT Film Festival. The movie tells the story of Tori and Joy who, after meeting online, have their first date and chemistry ensues. But will their mutual attraction be enough to overcome the challenges that arise?

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Rochester hosts annual Pride Parade

Rochester hosts annual Pride Parade | LGBT Community Centers |
If you were anywhere near Park Avenue Saturday afternoon, you most certainly saw all the colors of the rainbow. Rochester Pride week carried on with its annual parade.

It was all sunshine and rainbows during the event. Thousands of people turned out to participate and to cheer on the parade marchers. Organizers say the theme this year is, “Stand Out, Live in Color.”

“Pride is all about having fun, being authentic, being yourself, being true to who you are. This year, I think people are taking that especially to heart because this is one of the few places that we can just be who we are and live our lives," said Jeff Myers from OUT Alliance.

The colors of the rainbow could be seen everywhere, from flags to the clothes people wore. Events moved from Park Avenue to Cobbs Hill Park for a Festival to continue the Pride events. 
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Funding secured for Rochester's 'Out Alliance'

Funding secured for Rochester's 'Out Alliance' | LGBT Community Centers |
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC-TV) - $250,000 has been secured for the Out Alliance in Rochester.

The money was secured by Assemblyman Harry Bronson and was announced Wednesday night as part of Pride Week in Rochester.

The funding will go towards the construction of a new LGBTQ Community Center. The center will provide programming, resources and a community gathering space for members of Rochester's LGBTQ community.

"As a community, we need to have pride throughout the year, 52 weeks a year," says Assemblyman Harry Bronson. "So what a community center will offer to the community is an opportunity for them to come to the center and participate in activities year round."

"It's giving a safe space for folks just to come and be a drop-in center where if they're feeling a little vulnerable, they have a safe place to come and they can just be authentic in this space," said Interim executive director for Out Alliance, Jeff Myers.

The community center is expected to be completed in September of 2018.
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Milwaukee LGBT Community Center announces new board members, structural changes | Community |

Milwaukee LGBT Community Center announces new board members, structural changes | Community | | LGBT Community Centers |

At its July 17 board meeting, the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center announced organizational improvements as well as the selection of four new members of its board of directors.


The new members of the board of directors include:

Kevin Flaherty

Kevin was part of the volunteer effort to establish the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center over 20 years ago. He was a founding board member of the Community Center’s affiliated 501(c)(4), Center Advocates (later known as Equality Wisconsin), which raised advocacy funds and did advocacy work on behalf of the community.  A 25-year banking veteran in the Milwaukee area, Kevin and is a commercial lender for PNC Bank.  His financial acumen and board experience make him a valuable addition to the board.

Katherine Georgeson

Katherine founded ORCHESTRA Design Studio, which designs performance spaces for professional and community arts organizations. With a portfolio that includes more than 200 theater projects, she has gained international stature in the field. She’s been highly successful at advancing awareness of the key role theaters play in building strong communities.

Nick Morgan

Nick is currently the vice president of strategy and business development for Ox Optimal, a boutique digital marketing agency. The recipient of a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Award, he’s worked with many non-profits. As a new board member of the community center, he’s looking forward to working with its staff and volunteers to advance its mission and create greater awareness of the services it provides.

George Schneider

Since 2012, George has owned This is It! — the oldest LGBT+ bar in Milwaukee and one of the oldest continuing bars of its kind in the country. A former community center board member, he’s also served as a longtime operations director for Milwaukee Pride. George is committed to fostering the continued growth of LGBT+ community organizations and causes through raising funds and increasing community awareness.

Organization improvements

Organizational improvements also were presented at the July 17 meeting.

In an effort to exert leadership in promoting a non-gender binary environment, the board announced the removal all gendered language and pronouns from its bylaws and other documents.

To align with non-profit best practices, the board also revised its bylaws to include a president and vice president of the executive committee to. The board elected Rick Derksen to serve as president and Elena Dominguez to serve as vice president

 Both were elected to serve one-year terms.

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Time Out Youth partnering on pilot teen online initiative

Time Out Youth partnering on pilot teen online initiative | LGBT Community Centers |

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Time Out Youth Center Executive Director Rodney Tucker announced the launch of a pilot program, Q Chat Space, to provide online support groups for LGBTQ teens in collaboration with CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers.

Q Chat Space is an online space where teens will join live, chat-based, facilitated support groups. The program gives youth safe opportunities to connect with each other, in spaces moderated by trusted adults, within a structure that encourages compassionate interactions and discourages bullying and harassment, the center shared.

“In addition to the hundreds of new youth that we have seen since moving to our new physical location at 3800 Monroe Rd., I am well aware that there are numerous youth who just can’t come in to our center because they live too far away, can’t get a ride, or are just not ready to take that step,” Tucker said. “When the center was approached about the opportunity to pilot Q Chat Space, I knew that we had to make it happen for all of those youth. Creating an online presence for our center is a natural fit to increase our ability to impact youth in the Carolinas.”

According to a report by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), “Out Online: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth on the Internet,” LGBTQ youth report that they have more online friends than do non-LGBTQ youth and that they are using the Internet to connect with other LGBTQ individuals specifically. In addition, online spaces may offer LGBTQ youth new opportunities for being open about their LGBTQ identities. More than one in 10 LGBTQ youth said that they had first disclosed their LGBTQ identity to someone online, and more than one in four LGBTQ youth said they were more out online than in person.

“Q Chat Space aims to leverage young people’s current digital behaviors while also creating a new and safer space where they can receive support and information without fear,” stated Lora Tucker, CEO of CenterLink (no relation to Rodney Tucker). “We’re proud to be partnering with Time Out Youth as we move forward with Q Chat Space, and we’re excited to see how they can help us to expand and enhance the program.”

Time Out Youth will begin offering the online groups every Monday with a future goal of additional opportunities for youth to chat in the future. The first group was held on July 2 and gave participating youth an opportunity to get acquainted with each other. Topics for the group in the following weeks include Coming Out, Labels and Language and LGBTQ+ Representation in Media.

“By filling a crucial and unmet need for accessible and safe support groups, Q Chat Space will make a vital and even life-saving difference for vulnerable adolescents,” TOY’s Tucker stated. “Time Out Youth is honored to help pilot this important work.”

For more information about Time Out Youth Center or the pilot of Q Chat Space, email


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Inclusion center will provide support for LGBT students | News |

Inclusion center will provide support for LGBT students | News | | LGBT Community Centers |
Elliot Mitchell and Clark West have pledged $250,000 to build the Center of Social Inclusion on campus. Earlier this year, the couple created a scholarship in honor of Patti Sue Mathis who died by suicide because she did not feel accepted after coming out as gay.

University President Kenneth Kitts said at an event to honor the couple Oct. 9 he wants to make sure the words “diversity” and “inclusion” are more than just a bumper sticker to UNA.

“Elliot and Clark have passion for inclusion and are committed to that call,” Kitts said.

Vice President for Advancement Deborah Shaw said the center is transformational for the university and it is going to make a difference.

“We will become known for this nationally,” Shaw said. “Just you watch.”

Mitchell and West graduated from the University of Alabama. West said he and Mitchell were not embraced by the university.

“We were told to go where we are wanted, and you guys want us,” West said.

West, who grew up in Dothan, said he was touched by the story of Patti Sue.

“It is absolutely, positively unacceptable for anyone to feel like they have to take their lives for who they are and who they love,” West said.

He said he knew from an early age things were different and he did not have a choice in it. He and Mitchell lived very private and quiet lives.

“I was tired of having family members coming to visit and having to put pictures up,” West said.

Mitchell said he changed jobs every two years for the first 20 years of his career because he would get fired if they discovered his sexual orientation.

“So many young people do not have opportunities or advantages,” Mitchell said. “I hope this center is a beacon to young people in the state of Alabama and they will see there is an opportunity to get an education and live a normal life. The center is about embracing our differences.”

Mitchell’s niece and her husband attended the event. He began to get emotional as he explained this was the first event any of his family had attended because of his relationship with West.

Rebecca Lopez, the president and a co-founder of the Shoals Diversity Center, said the scholarship will provide possibilities otherwise only dreamed of by kids and the social inclusion center will provide a safe place that will let students know they are important and cared for and are a priority to the university.

Jonathan Rosales, program director at the Point Foundation, said it is a show of character that Mitchell and West named the scholarship after Patti Sue and not themselves out of recognition.

The Point Foundation is the nation’s largest scholarship organization for LGBTQ students in higher education and helped to create the Patti Sue Mathis scholarship.

The scholarship application opens Nov. 1 on the Point Foundation website and will be available until the end of January. The application will be open to undergraduate and graduate students.

Father of Patti Sue, Nathan Mathis, said if he can help just one pearl, it would all be worth it.

“Just don’t screw up like I did,” Mathis said. “My daughter, when she was gay, I showed my butt. I told her I was sorry and we patched things up. There’s no doubt in my mind. But one day, I had found my daughter and she had shot herself.”

Mathis said what happened to him could happen to anyone else.

“In the book of Acts, it talks about the Apostle Paul. His name was Saul,” Mathis said. “He persecuted Christians and he killed many Christians. He was there when they stoned Stephen to death and God forgave him. So you gay people, y’all forgive me and I believe God has forgiven me.”

Mathis said he believes people are born gay and relates it to eunuchs in the Bible.

“In Acts, it talks about a eunuch could be baptized. A eunuch is a castrated man. The Bible says some eunuchs are born eunuchs,” Mathis said, “Gay people are born gay. Autistic people are born gay. Down syndrome children are born gay. It’s time religious people need to realize that God loves gay people. Read the entire book of Acts. You’ll find the old law done away with. The new law came into existence and there was a lot of resistance from everywhere. Nowhere does it say a gay person can’t be a Christian.”

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A decade of the LGBT Center brings reflection and changes

A decade of the LGBT Center brings reflection and changes | LGBT Community Centers |
Nearly a decade after the Henderson Springs LGBT Center opened its doors for the first time, the center marks a time for reflection and novelty.

When it officially opened on Oct. 3, 2008, the center sought to “provide resources, support, information, and a welcoming atmosphere for LGBT individuals and their allies,” according to the LGBT center.

“It’s a place I can go especially when I’m not feeling my best, or when I’m in this place where I need support,” sophomore political science major and center volunteer Christian Brooks said.

Along with annual events, which  include Pride celebrations, annual candlelight vigils and celebrations in recognition of national awareness days, the center has also been part of specialized events in association with its affiliated clubs Sexuality and Gender Alliance, TransAction and A-SPEC.

In 2012, the center ran a petition against blood donation bans called “1,000 Signatures for 1,000 Pints.” The LGBT center also sponsored a staged reading of the play “8” in 2013 that chronicles the court case Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which regards same-sex marriage. In spring 2018, the LGBT center, with SAGA and the Appalachian Popular Programing Society, hosted headlining drag queen Shangela, who is esteemed for her appearance on “Ru Paul’s Drag Race.”

The LGBT center’s graduate assistant, Jake Reeves, a second-year graduate student studying college student development, has been participating in and around the center since 2015.

“The tenth year is probably one of the biggest things going on this year for sure,” Reeves said. This is a year we can make a lot of impact with the students.”

The center has not made many major changes in the past except for in 2014, when the center’s official name was changed to Henderson Springs LGBT Center. The name was originally only called the LGBT center but was changed in honor of benefactors and partners Bo Henderson and Ed Springs. Henderson is an alumnus from App State, and the couple live in Blowing Rock, where they have been supporting the App State community for over 17 years.

This year the center will redesign its logo.

“This is a great year to do it. The logo has been around for a long time and we want to give it a refresh,” Reeves said.

The center also hopes to rejuvenate their online presence.

Senior public broadcasting major Becky Parsons, who is a co-founder of A-SPEC, a club in recognition of asexuality and aromanticism, has participated in the center for six semesters. This year she will be running most of the center’s media outlets.

“We’re doing a lot of things to start to bring people in. Sometimes the scariest thing about the LGBT center is walking down the long rainbow hallway and not knowing who is going to be there,” Parsons said.

The center will also be helping to sponsor an updated version of Appalachian Allies, a program to inform students who are not part of the LGBT community on what it means to be supportive. The curriculum for the training programs hasn’t been updated since 2016. The new training will become available in the spring semester.

Some upcoming annual events that the LGBT center will host for the fall semester include APP Coming Out Day on Oct. 3, a candlelight vigil on Oct. 6, Asexuality Awareness Week on Oct. 21-27, HIV testing on Nov. 7 and Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20.
Matt Skallerud's curator insight, September 21, 9:23 AM

When it officially opened on Oct. 3, 2008, the center sought to “provide resources, support, information, and a welcoming atmosphere for LGBT individuals and their allies,” according to the LGBT center.

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Police investigate possible hate crime after LGBTQ community center is vandalized in D.C. - The

Police investigate possible hate crime after LGBTQ community center is vandalized in D.C. - The | LGBT Community Centers |

A woman hurled a brick through the double-pane window of an LGBTQ community center in Anacostia this week in an incident D.C. police are investigating as a suspected hate crime.

The attack left a hole in the facade of Check It Enterprises and a crack in the door. It also rattled those who work and gather inside — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth who have grown to see the community center as a safe haven where they can escape violence and hate.

“Bad things happen to young people in this city,” said Ronald Moten, a youth mentor who has worked with Check It for about six years. “They’re always worried about their safety when they’re out there, but when they come here they feel safe. This is their safe haven.”

It’s an organization that exists on the fringes of two worlds: Washington’s LGBTQ community has been slow to embrace Check It members, Moten said, because of “classist attitudes,” and neighborhoods where many of its members live still harbor homo­phobic attitudes that make them feel unsafe.

“D.C. still has a lot of violence and hate crimes directed at the LGBTQ community, and there’s a lot of work to be done,” Moten said. “Even within the gay community, there’s work to be done.”

Security cameras in and around the building captured footage of a woman throwing the brick. She targeted the front door at about 6:07 a.m. Tuesday, then moved to the front window.

Check It Enterprises has turned to the Internet to raise money for repairs. (

After fracturing the first pane of glass, the footage shows, the woman threw the brick again and shattered the second pane.

The store was littered with shards of glass — Check It markets clothing — as Moten arrived that morning about 6:45 a.m. after receiving a call from a neighbor. Moten said the neighbor told him and other Check It volunteers that he heard the woman scream anti-gay slurs as she vandalized the storefront.

Police updated an initial report to indicate the crime may have been motivated by hate.

“Suspected hate crime,” the police report says. “Anti-gay.”

The investigation continues.

Check It Enterprises was formed by former members of a gang, Check It, that operated in the Trinidad neighborhood of Northeast Washington in the early 2000s. 

Although members of the organization felt shaken by the attack, few were surprised that hatred may have found its way to Check It’s front door.

“It makes you remember where you’re at, reminds you not to get too comfortable,” Moten said. “We’ve had some of our kids attacked on Metro buses on their way here, but once they get inside this building, it’s been a safe haven.

“When things like this happen, it makes you think twice,” he said.

Check It Enterprises, on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Southeast Washington, was founded by a group that had been members of the Check It street gang — a crew of teenagers in the Trinidad neighborhood of Northeast Washington who banded together for support and protection in the early 2000s.

Members of the group reformed to open Check It Enterprises, a community hub combined with the business that focuses on creating and marketing clothing.

Not wanting to drive up insurance premiums after the vandalism, the community center turned to the Internet to raise funds to fix the damage. It took Check It three days to surpass its goal of $2,500.

Most of the donations came from community members with ties to the organization, Moten said.

“This is the miracle of Check It — most of the supporters of Check It are not gay,” Moten said. “They’re members of our community who look at our kids as children who need support to change their life around. They don’t see the gay part.”

Several events this weekend will go on as planned, Moten said, despite the boarded-up “black eye” on the face of the store.

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LGBTQ centers fight big battles with few resources, report finds

LGBTQ centers fight big battles with few resources, report finds | LGBT Community Centers |

LGBTQ community centers across the U.S. serve more than 40,000 clients a week, but many have no physical space or paid staff, according to a report released this week.

Naomi Goldberg, policy and research director at Movement Advancement Project (MAP), a group that researches LGBTQ issues, is a lead author of the study. She told NBC News the report highlights the range of conditions LGBTQ centers operate under.

“In this climate, where LGBT rights are facing challenges, centers offer a place for LGBT people to connect and organize.”

“People often think of LGBT centers as huge organizations, like centers in LA or other big cities,” Goldberg said. “But there’s centers in rural areas like South Dakota that are also on the front lines, without many resources.”

The report is a joint effort by CenterLink, an organization that supports LGBTQ centers across the country, and MAP. The survey data include 128 centers that opted to participate, out of 219 identified. They’re located in 40 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

Many centers face tough financial realities. The study found 45 percent of centers have annual budgets under $150,000. Most rely heavily on volunteers: 25 percent have no paid staff, and 32 percent have less than five paid staff members. Ten percent have no physical space, and just 27 percent own their own space.

Despite this, the services centers provide are broad.

Two-thirds offer direct physical or mental health services, such as counseling, peer-led programs, and prevention and testing services for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. A majority also provide counseling for domestic violence as well as a suicide hotline.

2018 LGBT Community Center Survey Report, Assessing the Capacity and Programs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Centers.CenterLink

Job training services are also key to serving the community. Two-thirds report that more than half of the people who access their programs earn less than $30,000 a year. Almost 75 percent of centers offer computer access and many offer job training programs.

“Centers recognize that LGBT people are more likely to be low income and need employment, especially for transgender people and people of color,” Goldberg said. “They need a safe and affirming space where they don’t need to explain their gender identity to find assistance.”

Goldberg also noted that centers are serving a role in public policy fights, with 93 percent active in efforts to educate the public and effect policy.

“In this climate, where LGBT rights are facing challenges, centers offer a place for LGBT people to connect and organize” she said. “They’re registering voters and active in fights on the state and local levels.”

The work of changing public opinion is particularly challenging in rural areas, where centers with steep obstacles often have few resources.

OutCenter in Benton Harbor, Michigan, has just one full-time staff member: Mary Jo Schnell, its executive director. The center serves an area of about 40,000 people that is 81 percent rural in the southwest part of the state, a two-hour drive from Chicago.

Schnell moved to Benton Harber for the job in 2015 from Chicago, after working as a consultant since 2012. She said social attitudes toward LGBTQ people in the area “are like going back 20 years, especially since the 2016 election.”

“It’s night and day from Chicago,” she added.

The center had $177,000 in income in 2017, which includes the dollar value of services professionals offer the organization for free, almost $29,000 according to Schnell.

The center offers groups for mothers of LGBTQ kids, after-school drop in hours, “the pastor is in” sessions with religious leaders, and a support group that addresses various issues, including employment.

“In Michigan, you can be fired or denied housing for being gay,” Schnell said. “We talk about how to navigate the workplace.”

To affect broader social change, however, the center focuses on educational programs that have broader reach and can affect systemic change.

OutCenter recently led an inclusion training at Lakeland Health, a large employer in the area. Schnell said soon after, a teenage girl called and said after her mother attended the training, she was now allowed to attend programming at the center.

The LGBTQ community center report spotlighted OutCenter for its work on creating change for LGBTQ youth.

The center’s “Teen Pride” program serves as a gay-straight alliance. Schnell said that when they started it there was only one alliance in the area. Now, more have popped up as teens experience the “Teen Pride” program and lobby for alliances in their own schools.

“It’s a place that is incredibly hard to step up and step out,” Schnell said. “I’m humbled by the courage of these kids in the face of that. Watching them grow has been the biggest gift of my life.”

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Study: LGBT Community Centers Serve More Than 40,000 People Each Week - The Seattle Lesbian

Study: LGBT Community Centers Serve More Than 40,000 People Each Week - The Seattle Lesbian | LGBT Community Centers |
For many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, LGBT community centers are a critical and sometimes the only local source of targeted social, educational, and health services.

According to a new report released Tuesday from MAP and CenterLink, The 2018 LGBT Community Center Survey Report: Assessing the Capacity and Programs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Centers, these centers are often understaffed, underfunded, and under resourced, yet they serve more than 40,000 people each week and provide targeted referrals to nearly 5,500 people.

Surveying 128 centers located in 40 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, the sixth edition of the report provides a crucial snapshot of the centers that provide vital services, programs, and advocacy for LGBT people.

The report found that the 113 centers that reported 2017 revenue data have combined revenue of $226.7 million, with both large and small centers reporting an increase over the previous year. However, the report also found centers faced significant challenges, such as a lack of resources and paid staff – particularly among smaller centers.

“LGBT community centers are incredibly resilient. Not only do these centers provide critical direct services despite a daunting lack of resources, they are also active advocates on behalf of their members,” said Naomi Goldberg, MAP Policy Director. “Investing in LGBT community centers – particularly smaller centers – is an effective way to support LGBT people across the United States.”

The report found that 93% of centers are actively working to advance policy change at federal, state, and local levels. 

Key findings from the report include:

Participating LGBT centers serve 40,550 people in a typical week and refer nearly 5,550 individuals each week to other agencies for services and assistance.
The 113 centers that reported 2017 revenue data have combined revenue of $226.7 million. Small centers projected an 18% increase in expense budgets from 2017 to 2018, while large centers projected a 5% increase from 2017 to 2018.
Nearly half (47%) of all participating centers reported obtaining at least one government grant (local, state, or federal) of over $10,000 in 2017.
Participating centers employ nearly 2,000 paid staff and engage with more than 14,000 volunteers for nearly half a million volunteer hours annually.
Half of LGBT community centers remain thinly staffed: 25% have no paid staff and rely solely on volunteers, and 32% have between one and five paid staff. As expected, small centers with budgets of less than $150,000 are much more likely to have few or no paid staff; 56% of small centers have no paid staff, while three-quarters (76%) of centers with budgets over $150,000 have six or more paid staff.
More than three-quarters of centers (78%) that engage in policy-related activities work to advance policy at the local level, 67% at the state level, and 31% at the national level.
“Data can tell a unique story, and it can help strengthen our community’s collective impact,” said Lora Tucker, CEO of CenterLink. “My hope is that this 2018 Community Center Survey Report can make a difference as we work at the grassroots level to ensure that all LGBTQ people have the opportunity to live happy and healthy lives in communities that honor and support their full participation.”

Given the critical role of LGBT community centers in areas of the country with few other resources for LGBT people, and the large gulf between large centers and small centers, the report finds that small centers, in particular, are in critical need of additional financial support.

The report concludes with the recommendation that investing in these centers is a targeted and focused way to increase the infrastructure of the LGBT movement and the support for LGBT people living across the country.

The 2018 Community Center Survey is the sixth biennial survey of LGBT community centers across the United States. In March 2018, MAP and CenterLink sent an online survey to 219 community centers identified by CenterLink.

To read the full report, visit 
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National PowerOn Program Launches at Triangle Community Center

National PowerOn Program Launches at Triangle Community Center | LGBT Community Centers |
NORWALK, Conn. (PRWEB) August 02, 2018

On Tuesday afternoon, Triangle Community Center launched its partnership with PowerOn, the national program to put life-saving technology into the hands of America’s housing-insecure and at-risk LBGTQ youth.

“The PowerOn program strives to meet LGBTQ individuals where they are by working nationally to upcycle lightly used donated technology from individuals and companies,” explained Christopher Wood, Executive Director of the LGBT Technology Institute, one of three organizations that operates PowerOn. “Beginning with a certified wipe of all devices, we offer a complete refurbishment and distribution of life-saving technology to homeless and housing-insecure LGBTQ youth through a network of partner LGBTQ community centers and homeless shelters such as Triangle Community Center.”

Each night, as many as 1.6 million children and teens sleep on America’s streets. Over 40 percent of these homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, which is equivalent to the population of our nation’s capital, or about 650,000 people. In the 2018 Youth Point in Time Count conducted by the CT Coalition to End Homelessness found that on average there are more than 5000 housing insecure young adults in Connecticut on any given night. One-quarter of the state's population lives in Fairfield County. Triangle Community Center serves over 300 individuals who utilize its programs and services on a regular basis as well as over 5000 members of the Fairfield County community who attend a TCC program or event at least once a year.

“Technology is important because LGBT youth are at a higher risk for things like dropping out of school, suicide, and homelessness, and having technological resources can help us reach out for help. Having access to computers and phones means that we can apply for jobs, apply to schools, stay in touch with our support network, and so much more,” said Emmett Burns, a client of TCC. “Technology can help us succeed and thrive, and it very well may save someone's life. Knowing that I will have access to technology at TCC motivates me to stay in school because I know I will have a place to get my work done. PowerOn and LGBT Tech have made it possible for me and other LGBT youth to achieve greatness.”

The PowerOn program provided five computers for the youth drop-in center, 14 cell phones, and a printer to launch the partnership. These devices will allow youth to complete schoolwork, apply for jobs, find housing, and explore interests like graphic design and coding, which will complement the Center’s existing programs.

“The cell phone program is so important because a lot of our youth and young adults don’t have access to phones,” said Claude Louis, Program Coordinator for TCC. “I had a trans young adult who was homeless, living in a park who I couldn’t find because he didn’t have a cell phone. With a cell phone I can get in contact with him, make sure that he’s safe, and I can get him somewhere safe and make sure he’s successful.”

The expansion of Triangle Community Center’s drop-in center and programs is thanks in large part to the support of Circle Care Center in Norwalk and the Young Adult Services Program at the CT State Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services in addition to office furniture from SPI Marketing in New York City, and support of the PowerOn program through the Verizon Foundation and Comcast Foundation.

With the launch of Triangle Community Center, PowerOn partners are now serving LGBTQ youth in ten different cities across the country. PowerOn hopes to add seven more centers to the program by this time next year, bringing the national total to 17 partner centers.

For more information about PowerOn, or to donate your old technology, please visit
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Pride Center Of Vermont Selects New Executive Director | Vermont Public Radio

Pride Center Of Vermont Selects New Executive Director | Vermont Public Radio | LGBT Community Centers |
As of Aug. 1, the Pride Center of Vermont has a new executive director. Michael Bensel took over as head of the organization, which advocates for LGBTQ Vermonters.

Bensel is one of the Pride Center's founding board members and served on the board for five years.

He spent a few years in Florida before returning to Vermont in 2011 to work at the Pride Center, first as the health and wellness coordinator and more recently as the director of health and wellness programs.

He said there's been a lot of transition at the organization in recent years, so he's focusing on learning the job and meeting as many people as possible.

“I want to make sure that I'm connecting to the people that we serve, so I'm going to be setting up meetings and connecting with partnering agencies," he said. "Just get a good lay of the land and develop a plan for the future in partnership." 

The previous executive director resigned in the fall of 2017 after five months on the job.
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CenterLink and Member Centers Among 200+ national, state groups oppose allowing adoption agencies to discriminate 

CenterLink and Member Centers Among 200+ national, state groups oppose allowing adoption agencies to discriminate  | LGBT Community Centers |
WASHINGTON — More than 200 national, state, and local civil rights, religious, and child welfare organizations joined the American Civil Liberties Union in a letter to members of Congress today opposing legislation that would authorize discrimination in the child welfare system.
The Aderholt amendment to the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill for FY 2019 would allow child welfare agencies receiving taxpayer funds to choose which families and children to serve, privileging the beliefs of providers over the best interests of children who are in state care.

If adopted, the Aderholt amendment would exacerbate an already dire crisis in the nation's child welfare system. The United States has nearly 440,000 children in foster care, more than 117,000 of whom are waiting to be adopted. Each year, less than half of those are adopted into permanent placements, and tens of thousands age out of the foster care system before they can find an adoptive family.

Not only would the Aderholt amendment severely decrease the already limited pool of eligible families, but it also would put the 46 states and the District of Columbia who enforce non-discrimination laws in jeopardy of losing 15 percent of their federal funding for child welfare services — amounting to a loss of more than $1 billion for the system. Federal judges have already indicated these provisions would likely be found unconstitutional, should they be challenged in court.

Signatories include the American Psychological Association, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Child Welfare League of America, Family Equality Council, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, NAACP, National Association of Social Workers, and National Education Association. A full list of signing organizations is below.

"It is despicable that elected officials would place ideology over family," said Ian Thompson, senior legislative representative at the ACLU. "Every child deserves the opportunity to grow up in a supportive, loving home. The Aderholt amendment would harm some of the most vulnerable children in our country — those who are in state care do to abuse and neglect at home. As this powerful coalition letter makes clear, it is unacceptable to place the beliefs of providers over the best interests of children. Discrimination has no place in our child welfare system, and we join our partners to demand that this amendment be removed from the HHS funding bill."


National Organizations

African American Ministers In Action

American Association of University Women

American Atheists

American Conference of Cantors

American Federation of Teachers

American Humanist Association

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

American Unity Fund

Anti-Defamation League

Atticus Circle

AIDS United

American Civil Liberties Union

American Psychological Association

Athlete Ally

Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty

The Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children & Youth

Bend the Arc Jewish Action

Center for American Progress

Center for Children's Law and Policy

Center for Children & Youth Justice

Center for Inquiry

Center for Public Interest Law

Center for Social Innovation

CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers

Ceres Policy Research

Children's Advocacy Institute

Children's Defense Fund

Children's Rights

Child Welfare League of America



Disciples Justice Action Network

Equality Federation

Faith in Public Life

Family Values @ Work

Family Equality Council


Foster Care to Success


Freedom for All Americans

Global Justice Institute

Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc.

Harm Reduction Coalition

Hispanic Federation

Human Rights Campaign

Human Rights Watch


Impact Fund

Interfaith Alliance

Intersections International

Juvenile Law Center

Lambda Legal

Log Cabin Republicans

Men of Reform Judaism

Methodist Federation For Social Action

Metropolitan Community Churches

Movement Advancement Project


NARAL Pro-Choice America

National Adoption Center

National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum ( NAPAWF )

National Association of County and City Health Officials

National Association of Social Workers

National Black Justice Coalition

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Center on Adoption and Permanency

National Coalition for the Homeless

National Council of Jewish Women

National Crittenton

National Education Association

National Equality Action Team ( NEAT )

National Health Law Program

National Juvenile Justice Network

National LGBT Chamber of Commerce

National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund

National Network of Abortion Funds

National Network for Youth

National Organization for Women

National Women's Law Center

Nebraska Appleseed

New Ways Ministry

North American Council on Adoptable Children

Partnership For America's Children

People For the American Way

PFLAG National

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Population Connection Action Fund

Presbyterian Church ( U.S.A. )

Religious Institute

RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association


SchoolHouse Connection

Secular Coalition for America

Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States ( SIECUS )

SisterLove, Inc.


The Trevor Project

Transgender Law Center

True Colors Fund

Union for Reform Judaism

United Church of Christ, Justice and Local Church Ministries

Unitarian Universalist Association

URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity

Uri L'Tzedek

Voices for Progress

Witness to Mass Incarceration

Women of Reform Judaism

Youth Law Center

State and Local Organizations


AIDS Alabama

AIDS Alabama South, LLC

Equality Alabama

Rainbow Mobile


Children's Action Alliance ( Arizona )


Children's Law Center of California

County Welfare Directors Association of California

The Diversity Center

Equality California

Family Builders by Adoption

Los Angeles LGBT Center


North County LGBTQ Resource Center

Resource Center for Nonviolence

Sacramento LGBT Community Center

San Gabriel Valley LGBTQ Center

The Spahr Center

The Source LGBT+ Center


Connecticut Alliance of Foster and Adoptive Families

Connecticut Voices for Children

Hispanic Federation - Connecticut

True Colors, Inc. Sexual Minority Youth and Family Services of Connecticut


GLBT Community Center of Colorado

Inside Out Youth Services

One Colorado


Equality Florida

Hispanic Federation - Florida


Safe Schools South Florida


Georgia Equality

Georgia Safe Schools Coalition

TRANScending Barriers

Trans( forming )


Center on Halsted

Equality Illinois


Children's Alliance of Kansas

Kansas Appleseed


Louisville Youth Group Inc.


Louisiana Trans Advocates



Maine Children's Alliance

Maine Women's Lobby


FreeState Justice

GLCCB - Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in Baltimore, MD

Public Justice Center


Child and Family Services, New Bedford

Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action



Grand Rapids Pride Center

OutCenter of Southwest Michigan


Gender Justice


OutFront Kalamazoo




Youth Dynamics


Voices for Children in Nebraska


Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada

Purple W.I.N.G.S. Organization

New Jersey

New Jersey Parents Caucus, Inc

The Pride Center of New Jersey, Inc.

New Mexico

Equality New Mexico

New York

Adoptive and Foster Family Coalition of New York

The Children's Agenda

Dignity Buffalo

Fairness Alliance and Information Resources of New York, Inc.

Hamptons LGBT Center

LGBT Network ( Long Island/Queens )

Long Island LGBT Community Center

Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth

Pride Center of the Capital Region

Queens LGBT Community Center

Services and Advocacy for LGBT Elders - Long Island ( SAGE-LI )

North Carolina

Equality North Carolina

Youth OUTright, WNC


Equality Ohio

LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland


Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center

Equality Pennsylvania

Women's Law Project

Rhode Island

Adoption Rhode Island

South Carolina

SC Equality

South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center

South Dakota

Equality South Dakota




Tennessee Equality Project

Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth


DFW Foster Parent Association

Equality Texas

Resource Center

Texas Freedom Network


Gay City: Seattle's LGBTQ Center

Legal Voice


Our Lives Magazine

Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

District of Columbia

Whitman-Walker Health
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Little Rainbow Cafe opens at The Center in Las Vegas –

Little Rainbow Cafe opens at The Center in Las Vegas – | LGBT Community Centers |

A little rainbow is shining inside the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada in the vacant area that once was the Bronze Cafe, and it’s bringing a liveliness back to the space.

“People now have a place to meet again, a place to grab a bite to eat,” said Andre Wade, executive director of The Center. “It’s a brand that’s in alignment with our community. It’s fun and catchy. I think it’ll defintely bring exposure to The Center.”

Ben Sabouri said he was visiting The Center with peers for a meeting when he noticed the empty space and decided to take action. The result is the newly opened Little Rainbow Cafe.

“We saw the space and as we were talking with the people there, they let us know there was a real need,” said Sabouri, who also owns the two MTO Cafe outlets in the valley. “They were hoping someone would come in and really renovate the space and bring more (people) through the door.”

The shop’s motto is led by the words of renowned poet Maya Angelou — “be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”

“It fits with what we wanted — to brighten someone’s day,” Sabouri said. “Whether it’s with a smile or a cup of coffee or a salad, whatever it may be. We accept all walks of life no matter what and we want to make sure we stick to that. I think the brand and the name really epitomize that.”

The cafe’s signature Rainbow and Rose lattes are among the most popular items on the menu, which also features toasts, pastries, smoothies, salads and wraps.

“We’re getting great feedback and we’ve had quite a few customers in,” Sabouri said.

Wade says his favorite menu items are the PB&J smoothie and the avocado toast.

“We offer many things here at The Center — including the cafe even though we don’t own it,” he said. “To be able to have people come here and access The Center, grab a bite to eat or select The Center as a meeting place is really important to us.”

Sabouri said opening the spot brings an opportunity to be a part of the community, offering a space for people to feel inspired.

“One of the most important things I learned from the words of Maya Angelou are to love yourself and be kind to every person you encounter, to offer a smile to everyone,” Sabouri said. “You never know what people are going through. That’s what we want to showcase here.”

If you go

■ What: Little Rainbow Cafe

■ Where: Inside The Center, 401 S. Maryland Parkway

■ Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday

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First LGBT center in Coastal Bend is on the way

First LGBT center in Coastal Bend is on the way | LGBT Community Centers |
LGBT people in the Coastal Bend will soon have a space devoted to them, as the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation finalizes plans for a LGBT community center. 

The center will be part of the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation and would provide LGBT people in the Coastal Bend with resources and services that are not offered elsewhere.

The center would be the sixth of its kind in Texas and the only one south of San Antonio.

Bill Hoelscher, the chief executive officer of the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation, said  the new center will help give more visibility to the LGBT community.

"We have always been at the forefront for helping the LGBT community and we recognize that the LGBT community doesn't often have a seat at the table," Hoelscher said. "In our work with health and health disparities in the community, we saw that people often didn't feel safe or didn't have a place to feel safe."

While the idea of an LGBT community center has been discussed, solid plans are in place as the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation builds a new facility.

While the programs at CBWF are funded by grants, the new center will do grassroots fundraising and the foundation is aiming to raise roughly $100,000 dollars a year.

The center is scheduled to open March 2019.
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Progress towards Yuma's first LGBT Center

Progress towards Yuma's first LGBT Center | LGBT Community Centers |
Yuma,Arizona - On Wednesday night the 'All Yuma Center' announced an update in the city's first LGBT Family and Youth Resource Center and upcoming projects.

In their monthly meetings, the group invites the community for conversations in health, relationships, and support.

"It's really nice because when people come here for these meetings, they're comfortable," said Salvador, a board member of All Yuma Center."They have a chance to express their feelings and their ideas."  

After the success of Yuma's first Pride in May, members are hoping their incorporation paperwork will pass the state level in order to gain non-profit status and receive funding for a future location. The process could take up to six months but Co-President Douglas Jennings is feeling hopeful because of the dire need in Yuma County. 

"We need it very very badly," said Jennings. "The suicide rate in Yuma County is very high, and without a community center for people to feel the 'same' and to meet other 'like-minded' people, not just gay people, but 'like-minded' people, we need that space very badly." 

Jennings added the center would offer education, family support, and host possible events in Yuma County. For Stacy Park, a trans woman, she said the center wouldn't be only for the gay community, but for family and friends who need support. 

"Let's say you're 16-years-old and you just 'came out', if your family members need someone to talk to or understand some 'idea' in what's going on, we're here for you and the whole community."

All Yuma Center is hoping for an LGBT Center in Yuma County early 2019. To learn more about the organization or future events, click here. 
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Geneva center works to help LGBT youth

Geneva center works to help LGBT youth | LGBT Community Centers |

A drop-in center in Geneva is aiming to help lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people.

The center is run by Youth Outlook, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary of supporting teens in the area.

“The rate of suicide and homelessness is disproportionately high for LGBTQ youth,” said Youth Outlook Executive Director Nancy Mullen. “Research is showing us having a sense of community reduces the risk of suicide.”

The Naperville-based nonprofit social service agency is in six counties and offers seven drop-in centers at different times and locations, including the one at Unitarian Universalist Church at 102 S. Second St. in Geneva. It also has a support group for parents in Naperville.

Mullen said the centers provide a safe place for youth to develop healthy coping mechanisms.

“Some of our youth are coming out of situations that are not safe,” Mullen said. “Some of our youth have been verbally harassed and sometimes physically harassed. We have had a number of youth report being forced to leave home or asked to leave home. Some of them do not feel safe enough to return home.

“These are kids who have already had a rough day when they come into a drop-in center. They are processing some pretty heavy stuff.”

That's why a sense of community and support is so important, she said.

Kaiden Bumbar, 20, walked into his first drop-in center at the age of 15, a year after he came out as transgender.

“I struggled with depression and anxiety. I was looking for a place where I could find people like me. I couldn't really talk to kids at school,” he said.

Bumbar now helps to run the Geneva drop-in center, which opened about a year ago.

“I met a lot of supportive people and great friends. It's really a place to feel relaxed and make new friends,” he said. “It helped me through a time when I didn't want to be open with anyone.”

Youth Outlook is not a mental health counseling service, but rather a place where teenagers can network, learn from one another and talk about topics relative to them, such as school, medical and legal matters, Mullen said.

“Many are already in counseling when they come to our door,” she said.

Mullen said the nonprofit is also working to develop allies by reaching out to communities, school, hospitals, mental health facilities, churches and faith-based groups.

“We are now building the sense of community around kids. We are also empowering families and impacting communities and systems they move through so they are safe,” Mullen said.

The Geneva group meets from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursday of the month in the youth room at the Geneva church.

Mullen said the center typically has about four youth that come to the meetings. However, the group is looking to increase attendance. The Naperville drop-in centers meet Tuesdays and Wednesdays and can have as many as 30 young people attend, organizers said.

“We are doing some outreach to get the word out that we are in Geneva. One of the challenges is getting the word out that the group exists,” Mullen said.

She said attendees can take a survey to decide on their preferences to shape what happens at the centers.

“We try to make them as tailored to the age and interests of our attendees as much as we can. One week it may be serious, the next it may be something fun,” she said.

Mullen said she has seen strides made in the 20 years she has been the agency's executive director.

“In the early years we were hesitant to publish the location of our drop-in centers. We got to the point a couple of years ago when we realized it is time to come out in the community,” she said.

She said parents are more supportive than they were years ago.

“In the early days we didn't hear from too many parents. Most of the youths were old enough to drive and came on their own. Now we are seeing lots of 12- and 13-year-olds whose parents or family drop them off. Parents are much more open and supportive than the early days,” Mullen said.

Batavia Ald. Dan Chanzit attended an open house held recently at the Geneva drop-in center.

“We were looking for something that we as a city could do to connect our kids to resources that would help them,” Chanzit said.

The Batavia City Council in May adopted a proclamation to raise awareness of teen suicide and the resources available through Youth Outlook. It also recognized the nonprofit's 20-year anniversary of helping teenagers.

“LGBTQ issues can be controversial, but there really should be no disagreement on keeping kids in our community alive,” Chanzit said.

“These are homeless kids, kids who have been kicked out of their homes after coming out with their parents or transgender kids who are misunderstood and have nowhere to go. The need is truly heartbreaking.”

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