THIS PRIDE MONTH, WE ARE PROUD TO SPOTLIGHT THE CENTER
To celebrate Pride Month, we sat down with The Center – a New York based hub and resource network for the LGBTQ+ community – to find out what this month means to them, how they plan to mark it and hear their thoughts on how brands can authentically ally with the LGBTQ+ cause.
Happy Pride Month! Can you tell us what this month means to you and how your team is celebrating?
Pride Month is many things to The Center. It’s a moment to celebrate ourselves and those around us, to spend time with chosen family, and to recommit to continuing the fight for justice and equity for everyone in our community. We also appreciate having this moment to shine a light on the myriad programmes and services that we provide for LGBTQ New Yorkers, and remind our community how we are here to serve them.
Tell us more about The Center- why is this community and similar global centers so integral to the LGBTQ+ community?
Established in 1983 as a result of the AIDS crisis, New York City’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center has grown and evolved over the last four decades, creating and delivering services that empower people to lead healthy, successful lives. We are considered “the heart and home” of New York’s LGBTQ community. We work with the community to create programming and services that meet their needs and serve as a hub of connection and information. When our physical space is open (seven days a week, 365 days a year!) the building is filled with people coming in for a range of programs, or just to meet friends, old and new, and be in an affirming, welcoming space. Our programming is created for youth (13- 21), adults, families, and individuals. Currently we offer a wide range of services including virtual one-on-one counseling, substance use treatment and support groups, virtual youth drop-in space, online arts and culture programming, health insurance navigation, and a virtual “front desk” to respond to community inquiries.
What impact has Covid-19 had on The Center and what have you seen on the ground?
The Center continues to serve the LGBTQ community through virtual support services, launched almost immediately after our building closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The health and economic crisis has shined a light on the needs of the most vulnerable in our communities, and The Center is committed to serving our community. During this past year, our remote services have supported thousands of community members while our physical space has been closed:
- Our Information and Referral Team has fielded over 7,000 inquiries through phone, email, and our new chat feature
- Our dedicated Programs Team has provided over 31,000 virtual community support sessions
- Tapping into the healing power of the arts, we have offered over 100 virtual Arts & Culture programmes to over 2,000 attendees—including maintaining our signature monthly Second Tuesday programme, celebrating its 35th anniversary season!
- Our RiseOut Action Team of volunteers reached over 80,000 New Yorkers through their “Get Out the Vote” text bank efforts leading up to the historic General Election
- For nearly 40 years, The Center has promised to create and adapt its programs and services in order to meet the needs of our community in real-time. Even with our doors closed to the public, we proudly launched several new programs and partnerships this year, including:
- Center Works to support LGBTQ young adults navigating personal and professional development, including an ongoing virtual series featuring guest speakers and workshops for community members age 18-30
- Survivor Support Services, in partnership with New York’s Office of Victim Services, providing a holistic approach to care, counseling, and financial support for survivors of trauma
- The inaugural year of The Center’s RiseOut Activist-in-Residence Fellowship, investing in the next generation of Black, Indigenous, and other leaders of color who are committed to transforming social and economic conditions, and to advancing equity and opportunity for New York’s LGBTQ community
- The launch of (Qu)H.E.R.E. Health Emergency Resource Explorer, a comprehensive online guide designed to connect LGBTQ folks with relevant and affirming health and human services in their area, created in partnership with The New York State LGBT Health & Human Services Network
- A range of Spanish-speaking Support Groups, and Beginning and Advanced ESL Classes
- The LGBTQuarantine Archive Project to collect stories representing the impact of the pandemic and quarantine on our community
What does the future hold for The Center? What initiatives do you have in the pipeline?
Right now, we are focused on returning to in-person operations for the community, and considering what programmes we can continue to offer virtually or in a hybrid format, as many have indicated that they would like that in the future. We also will be building upon the many new programs which launched in the last year.
How can companies, brands and allies best support the LGBTQ+ community?
There are a myriad of ways to do so! Get involved with your company’s LGBTQ employee resource group or network (including allies—or form your own ally network!), look for opportunities to support organisations financially or by volunteering, and continue to educate yourselves on the needs of the community. We are offering a range of programming this month, including a panel on corporate citizenship on June 15, and if you want to go one step further, consider launching a fundraiser to support The Center. And don’t forget: celebrating and supporting the community isn’t just in June—it needs to be year-round.
To support The Center, please consider donating here.
Header and Facade Image Credited to Travis Mark.
Pride Parade Images Credited to Da Ping Luo.
Cycle for a Cause Image Credited to Inspired Storytellers.