A center for the LGBT community has been a long-sought-after dream in Raleigh. For at least 10 years, organizers said, community leaders have discussed and debated the creation of an all-purpose community organization designed to unite and inspire.
That dream is now becoming a reality. For the past year, community members have been working diligently to create the first LGBT center in the state’s capital city. Organizing started off small at first and has now grown to fundraising stages as the group plans to make its public debut on Oct. 17.
“The center is a catalyst for finding needs in our community,” board member Glenn Medders told Q-Notes, standing under a NC Pride festival tent and safely away from a light drizzle. “It will be like the wind beneath the sails of many groups.”
Medders and his fellow board members who’d gathered to promote the Center at the festival in Durham said they envision their project as a way to fill the holes that might exist in community services for LGBT people.
The new LGBT Center, under the leadership of a full-time director, could actively seek out those gaps in services, network with organizations and other leaders and ensure community members received the help they need.
Board member Les Geller said the Center’s online presence will has serve as a unique resource.
“We want our website to reach out to people thinking of moving to or working in Raleigh,” he said.
With many newcomers attracted to the city by large companies providing LGBT-inclusive benefits and protecting their employees from discrimination, these new Raleigh citizens will need a place to welcome them and point them in the direction of volunteer, social, education and advocacy opportunities.
In order to achieve these large aspirations, organizers said they’re counting on the support of the community. They’ve started reaching out for sponsors and donors and are encouraging those who can to join their Founders’ Level donors. They hope they can find 1000 people willing to contribute $100 to the cause. With that seed money, they’ll begin their search for the Center’s physical home.
On Oct. 17, the Center will hold its first official kickoff event. Their “coming out” party at Moore Square in downtown Raleigh will include entertainment, food, wine and beer. Part party, part fundraiser, the event will be another chance for the community to get to know the Center and its organizers and join in the effort.