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Trans on the Sands Makes a Splash at Coney Island
On August 6, the Gender Identity Project (GIP) held its fifth annual Trans on the Sands event at Coney Island Beach. More than 80 attended, including trans and gender non-conforming people, partners, family members and allies. Having a day at the beach is important to the transgender and gender non-confirming community because it encourages community members to get out of their homes and enjoy the outdoors. It also encourages integration into mainstream society." One of the participants was a young woman who traveled all the way from Delaware. She came to introduce herself and to thank the Center for existing and providing her with the support that she needed. She said, “Back home we don’t have a place such as The Center, a place where I can just be myself.” She was extremely excited to meet new people and mentioned that she was already making plans to join the event next summer. Several other agencies also attended the event, including the AIDS Center of Queens County, the NYC Anti-Violence Project, Community Health Project and Para Ayudar Program. Participants were able to connect to these service providers while starting new friendships, once again highlighting the Center’s work to promote health and wellbeing in our community.
Thanks to Cristina Herrera, Gender Identity Project Counselor
Youth Interns Host Indoor Beach Party to Promote Education Around Safe Sex Practices
This summer Center Youth Interns transformed one of the Center rooms into a beautiful indoor beach, complete with beach balls, hula hoops, music, dancing, a juice bar and a beach wear competition; it was a fun community event geared toward encouraging self-acceptance and promoting sexual health and HIV awareness for LGBT youth. Reality TV star Emily Vasquez, from the Glee Project, made a guest appearance as a judge of the beach wear competition and an inspirational speaker, and over 100 LGBT and straight allied youth attended the gathering. The interns who ran the event are part of the Center’s Popular Opinion Leaders Internship Program, a community-level intervention that involves identifying, recruiting, and training key influential youth opinion leaders to encourage safe sex practices to their peers and social networks. A significant part of the internship is learning to plan and facilitate community events like the Beach Party, where each intern develops and hosts educational discussions on safer sex activities, condom use demonstrations, and games that include HIV facts and sexual health information. The Beach Party provides an opportunity for both interns and attendees to celebrate, share pride, embrace positive body image and have a great time with each other while gaining valuable health knowledge from peers and youth leaders.
Thanks to Raul Rivera, Arts & Media Specialist, Youth Enrichment Services.
Center Hosts Korean Guests Planning to Build Seoul's First LGBT Center
Although the Center is largely focused on the LGBT Community of New York City, thanks to the connecting power of the internet, people from around the world are able to learn about the life-changing and life-saving programs offered at the Center. Occasionally people from other countries have a chance to visit and learn about the Center first-hand. The Center’s Director of Meeting & Conference Services and Capital Projects, Robert Woodworth, has given tours to many foreign visitors over the years. On July 21, he met with Sunghwan Kim, who is the public relations director for the Seoul LGBT Film Festival. Sunghwan was eager to learn more about the Center, because he and his partner are building a theater to house the festival and provide space for other community organizing in Seoul, South Korea. Five days later, eight Korean university students came to the Center while participating in a program sponsored by the Korea Center for United Nations Human Rights Policy. They had a lively discussion with Robert about the Center and addressing discrimination against LGBT people and women from a human rights perspective. In a post-visit email, the group organizer wrote, “The students and I had been busy lobbying to the Committee members of CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women) calling for the government to take appropriate actions to protect sexual minority women’s rights in Korea. I personally thank you for giving us a lot to think of in relation to gay rights associated with the enhancement of women’s rights.” “I adore talking with students and showing them the Center, especially students from other parts of the world,” Woodworth said. “It’s good to know that the Center can be an example and a resource. And it inspires hope to hear young people talk about making the world a better place and becoming more aware of LGBT people in their world view.”
Staff Spotlight: Evan Davidoff, Development Intern
I grew up within a half hour of midtown Manhattan and have been in and out of the city all my life. Throughout my youth and as I began to get involved in LGBT rights and politics in college, I heard the Center mentioned countless times, but I never made my way down to West 13th street for a visit. I didn’t know what the Center could have to offer me that I, someone who came out as gay at age 12, couldn’t cope with on my own. However, I eventually came to a book discussion here with an author I admired. I liked the environment and was surprised at the sense of community that envelopes you the second you walk through the door. The stigma, attitude and judgment that existed elsewhere, even in other LGBT environments, was nonexistent at the Center, and I felt very welcomed and comfortable. After I finished graduate school, the economy was an unwelcoming place for entry level non-profit positions, but I knew I didn’t want to give up my desire to be a part of the LGBT community. It had been two years since I got my MSW and I was feeling more and more discouraged by the day. My boyfriend suggested I try an internship, and I saw there was a program being offered at the Center. I remembered the feeling I had during the brief time I was there, and I wanted that in my life again: the acceptance, the unity, and the environment that gave energy and hope to individuals and the LGBT community as a whole. The Center didn’t let me down. From my interview back in May to all the events, grant writing, and data entry, I again have that feeling of being involved, being appreciated, and helping to make a difference. I have learned just how many services the Center offers, how many different facets of the LGBT community it touches, and the countless individual lives it improves. I’m honored to be a part of it. The Center has helped me to rediscover the drive to help the LGBT community and to find my own place among a supportive, welcoming and inclusive environment.
Center and Braking the Cycle Ring NASDAQ Stock Market Closing Bell
On Monday, August 8, Executive Director Glennda Testone and members of Braking the Cycle, had the distinct honor of ringing the closing bell of the NASDAQ Stock Market. Braking the Cycle is the 285-mile bike ride from Boston to New York, which benefits the Center’s HIV/AIDS Services. This year will mark the event’s 9th year and many riders were on hand at the NASDAQ to showcase the importance of the ride and raise awareness about the continued fight against HIV/AIDS. Glennda noted in her remarks before the closing bell, after almost 30 years into the epidemic, HIV/AIDS continues to be a major health issue in the United States and around the world. The New York Times reported in recent weeks, the Center’s for Disease Control released new figures showing that “despite years of great progress in treating AIDS, the number of new HIV infections has remained stubbornly around 50,000 a year in the United States for a decade… and the American epidemic is growing rapidly worse among young black gay men.” She went on to highlight the myriad of services the Center provides to those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. The Center has been at the forefront of providing services in the fight against AIDS since its founding in 1983. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers with HIV or AIDS have benefited from the Center's help. The Center and Braking the Cycle were thrilled to have the NASDAQ platform to raise visibility and remind the American public that there’s still a long road ahead to the end of AIDS.