October 19th marks National LGBTQ+ Center Awareness Day. To show just how important this time is, we will be highlighting centers and services that have been around to help the most vulnerable within the queer community. LGBTQ+ centers have given a safe space for many who don’t have the resources they need to get by. Not only do they supply housing accommodations for those who need them, but they also provide vital programs that assist and support LGBTQ+ individuals in their journey of identity.
What do the Centers Provide?
Looking at LGBTQ+ centers from the outside, it may seem like they only offer housing support, much like homeless shelters, but their impact expands much further than most people realize. Not only do they take in people from all different ages and backgrounds, but the centers give individuals access to programs that build community, enhance education, and offer medical treatment. That’s what makes these centers so vital to communities, they give a sense of organization and optimism to people that have felt the effects of bigotry and isolation.
There are so many services that these centers provide, it’s hard to pinpoint what they don’t have access to. If you ever happen to find yourself in one, you can expect to receive a plethora of resources and programming. These include social services, mental health counseling, support groups for both youth and the elderly, recreational activities, and educational advancements. Many communities around the country would be lost without the help that LGBTQ+ centers provide. To show the significance of these centers, here are 5 places around the country that center literacy and education for the queer community.
1. The Loft LGBTQ+ Community Center
Located in White Plains, New York, The Loft LGBTQ+ Community Center’s mission is to provide services that advocate, educate, and celebrate inclusion and pride in the community. This center truly has all the programs you can think of. Between putting on dazzling musicals to financial workshops, The Loft is a welcoming environment for anyone in the area.
But one of their prized free programs is the Queer Community Book Club. By reading books from authors within the queer community, this wonderful resource provides a conversational education about the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ people in the world. Ranging from memoirs to fantasy, this book club is open to all who are interested in expanding their knowledge about LGBTQ+ literature.
2. PGH Equality Center
If you live in the Pittsburgh area, you’re in luck! The PGH Equality Center prides itself on its education, advocacy, and social justice-oriented services. Founded in 1979, the center has continuously provided help to meet the needs of LGBTQ+ people in Western Pennsylvania. This amazing community puts together Trans potlucks, bingo nights, and youth support groups.
As the United States’ largest library focusing on LGBTQ+ books and issues, the center’s Jim Fischerkeller Library takes the cake. With nearly 10,000 books in its collection, people can either visit in person, or request a book from its vast catalog online. Including all sorts of categories, you’re sure to find some excellent texts on anything within the LGBTQ+ genre. This library is truly the shining jewel of the center, and people within the community can attest to it.
3. The Center for Sexuality & Gender Diversity
The Center for Sexuality & Gender Diversity is located in Bakersfield, California. While it may look tiny from the outside, this nonprofit plays a big role in the area. Their mission focuses on bringing the queer community together. Updated in 2017, the center changed its name from the Gay & Lesbian Center of Bakersfield to the Center for Sexuality & Gender Diversity. This change was to encompass not just gay and lesbian individuals, but anybody on the vast and inclusive queer spectrum.
Just like the PGH Equality Center, the California center also offers a diverse library for anyone to peruse through. While they offer an extensive collection of LGBTQ+-themed books, they also offer historical archives of the LGBTQ+ history in the area. If interested, you are able to go and visit the library or look at their inventory online.
4. Brooklyn Community Pride Center
Near the Big Apple, the Brooklyn Community Pride Center gives a safe space for all in the Brooklyn area. With two unique locations, one in Crown Heights and the other near Bed-Stuy, this organization does it all. Focusing on offering a safe environment for all to thrive in, this center provides as much as you can possibly imagine. With such a large influx of people to care for, the Brooklyn center holds programs for physical and mental health, recreational and cultural activities, and pride pantries for those in the LGBTQ+ community who are facing homelessness or housing insecurity.
This organization presents an amazing program for both new and old writers within the LGBTQ+ community. The LGBTQ+ Writer’s Club welcomes anyone who wants to examine their writing with others in the group. Within a safe and quiet environment, this club provides the best atmosphere to advance your writing skill with others like you. I implore anyone around the area to RSVP for this unique opportunity.
5. First City Pride Center
Even though living in the South can cause some anxiety, do not fear, for the First City Pride Center is here. Founded in 2017, the First City Pride Center used to be known as the Savannah LGBT Center. This organization provided vital services to a community that desperately needed them. While many LGBTQ+ centers are widely available in the Midwest and Northeast, finding these types of resources is a more difficult task in the southern states. That’s why the First City Pride Center is essential. Within areas that might not be as accepting, it’s so important to have a safe place to go to where you feel loved and appreciated.
The programming at this center also lets people unwind and just have fun. Some of the events include board game nights, prayer groups, and pride family support. But the one event that stands out the most is the local book discussion group. Once a month in the fall and summer, members of the First City Pride Center gather together to discuss books of all genres. For any causal readers or literature fanatics, this group allows those within the LGBTQ+ community to talk amongst themselves about their favorite reads.
What would we do without the magnificent work of LGBTQ+ centers? There is no doubt that these places provide vital and necessary services for queer communities to thrive and survive in this day and age. Even when everything seems bleak, you can always find solace within LGBTQ+-friendly environments. So, happy LGBTQ+ Center Awareness Day to not only these 5 centers but to all of the organizations around the country.
Looking for an LGBTQ+ center in your area? Search the CenterLink Database!
Want to read more about LGBTQ+ voices? Click here!
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