Your Friendly Neighborhood LGBTQIA+ Center

I reside in a Midwest city of ~500k if you include a lot of suburbs and I am also on the board of our local LGBTQIA+ Center. We are a super important resource for our local community (including rural spaces with ~2 hours travel) but our funding is also non-existent because we have zero paid staff, therefore nobody to fundraise/grant write/do all the stuff on regular basis.

We are a 501©(3) under Education, which I think was chosen with the idea we would provide training/support to other organizations (which we do), and also may limit what fundraising we are allowed to do.

We are lucky enough to have an actual physical space, but with the Current Pandemic we can’t do much in it. We have moved some socialization stuff to Discord channels (an adult trans group & our weekly teen support group), but I’m really struggling with how else we can provide meaningful community support and connection for our local queer community at this time with our shoestring budget and limited marketing capacity.

Does anyone have any ideas or commentary on what you wish existed in your community?

If you wanted to volunteer for a center like this, what kind of role would you be interested in and what onboarding would you like to see? (We do a really terrible job finding & keeping new volunteers so I know that is something we can improve in the long run)

Also feel free to brag on cool things your local queer community/center(s) do. :rainbow: :sparkles:

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So, I’ve started arranging personal finance classes over social distance with the queer youth drop-in center I do Pay It Fur-ward classes at - we haven’t officially tried it yet, but I am really hopeful it works.

As far as other education that my rad local center (which the ED of is a good friend of mine!) does:

  • things about estate planning/adoption that are specific to queer couples. The former willl be usually done for free by queer volunteers that can use it to recruit financial planning or estate clients, the latter will often be done by adoption lawyers/agents, but it could just people that have gone through the process

  • how to change your name/start the process of GRS and therapy in your state

  • 12-step/support groups over social distance that are specifically for the queer community. 12-step groups have totally figured out how the heck to do social distanced 12-step but I know a lot of people have been disappointed that there’s less “specific” groups to their demo now that there’s less meetings. But they have it figured out!

  • mutual aid group specifically for queers? over discord maybe?

  • NETWORKING since no one has jobs right now. Job board for GLBTQI+ friendly employers!!

  • ACA health care navigator

  • queer sexual health education stuff - this can be really hard to do over video conferencing because even event brite will shut down sex education ticketing links due to payment processor nonsense but could partner with a sex shop?

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We had a library, it was the best.
http://www.outontheshelf.com/
Volunteering for shifts was super chill. And I used to work a phone line when phones were a thing

Family events were always coolest. And now I’d risk indoor mask time for a story time.

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Drag Queen story time (for kids) is a thing they do at my local county library and they moved it online! <3

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I want to meet the other parents and families

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The one major event we have been able to pull off in my tenure is a Halloween themed drag queen story time that we were hoping to make annual, but TBD on this year of course. After a bit of fuss locally at the public library sponsored one meaning the admin didn’t want to do another and deal with the comments, we stepped in and rented a library room to do our own (our space didn’t have the capacity for the 100-200+ attendees of the previous one). If nothing else we could certainly do an event livestream this year.

We actually have a parent/family group already! It is just primarily parents of trans or gender non-conforming kiddos who are too young for teen group right now. I think locally a lot of our families may use church / church type organizations for this socializing.

ETA: Also we do have a dedicated library, that’s how they got me involved initially! We really have to beef up our kid/YA though.

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My local LGBT center does a lot of health-related education and support that I appreciate because dealing with the broader healthcare system can be so exhausting. There are support groups aimed at disabled queer and trans people that I imagine could be particularly helpful at the moment. (Also because the center is relatively close to Gallaudet University they hold a lot of Deaf community events, but I don’t know how replicable that is in smaller cities.)

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Yeah…a disabled or chronically Ill chat group with meetups would also be amazing.

The family group sounds great…I think that you may get lots of traction with groups by age group. Or a becoming a parent group. Can you tell I’m desperate for play friends?

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I would also note - we’re a bigger city - but the Deaf community shows the eff UP for events. We even have a Deaf specific queer group here (my exgf was Deaf so I attended a lot of their stuff). They are desperate for community like a lot of other disabled folks, especially queer folks that feel their identities aren’t really represented in both areas.

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I am the president of the LGBTQIA group on campus and we have a Discord server with a lot of channels to talk about Anything, and then a game night every Saturday where you can hop on voice chat and play a game with everyone (lots of scribble.io recently but also we’ve done a lot of Jackbox games).

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