One Equal World

Rochester Gay Alliance Gets Its Forever Home

Posted on: December 17, 2015

Image: Rochester Gay Alliance

Image: Rochester Gay Alliance

An LGBT center is about to open its doors in Rochester, NY. But the Rochester Gay Alliance is hardly a new organization: it’s been in operation for 43 years. Now, for the first time, the association will really have a space of its own, an accessible space with a front door and an entrance. After years of renting or asking visitors to walk past rows of garbage bins to get in, the Alliance believes the new pro-LGBT sentiment in the country has helped it push forward to find the right spot. And the Alliance isn’t the only one: other LGBT centers are popping up around the country, too.

Scott Fearing, Executive Director of the Rochester Gay Alliance, believes that LGBT acceptance has come very far, and he says he’s beginning to see it in the legislation. “I think we’re seeing much more work being done at the local level,” Fearing said, and he’s right. Many states and towns have been implementing more laws to protect LGBT people from discrimination, and even at the federal level, legislation like Ken Mehlman’s amicus brief is finding its audience.

Fearing believes the Alliance’s new headquarters present a perfect opportunity to expand on the recently-secured rights for LGBT people. They now have a space to work on other issues like LGBT youth homelessness and transgender rights.

Other LGBT centers plan to open, too. MoPRIDE, a small nonprofit, also hopes to open a center to help gay and lesbian individuals in the Modesto, California area. The group currently runs an event called Pride in the Park intended to promote awareness about LGBT issues and celebrate LGBT pride. MoPRIDE hopes that a permanent center would be open to the public and offer support groups, counseling, meeting spaces, online resources, and library materials.

In Tennessee, plans are underway for the Tennessee Equality Center of Maryville, which will likewise offer many forms of support for the area’s LGBT residents. “I knew this area needed something and was past due for it,” said Tennessee Equality Project Foundation Board Chair and President Gwen Castro Schablik. She partnered up with local therapist Shannon Brown to make that something happen. Brown put up her own money to rent a local office space to get the center running until other sources of income could be found.

Schablik and Brown plan to open the Tennessee Equality Center this month.

Scott Fearing and his team at the Rochester Gay Alliance are overjoyed with what they have already achieved and the work they have left to do. “If one group is not treated equally, then everyone has a problem,” he said. “We need to bridge a connection to other groups in the community, and I think that’s what the Gay Alliance is heading for.”

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