By Cameron Aloway, Cleveland Foundation Marketing & Communications Intern
In 1989, Cleveland celebrated its first annual Pride in the city. Pride is the treasured time of year where members of the LGBTQ+ community can freely express their truest and authentic selves without repercussions. Every June, the city is decorated in symbolic rainbow colors to represent the overdue visibility of LGBTQ+ individuals. The month honors and remembers those who fought for LGBTQ+ people to be seen, heard and respected.
After a switch of format last year due to the pandemic, Pride in the CLE returns in full force with in-person and virtual opportunities starting on June 4. As we join the festivities, we also take the opportunity to recognize just a few of the many nonprofit organizations and efforts that continue to support the LGBTQ+ community and positively impact the Greater Cleveland area. The three organizations spotlighted below received grant funding through the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, which in its second phase focuses on basic needs, responding to housing challenges and PPE distribution to reduce the spread of the virus.
The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland
With the mission to enrich the diverse LGBTQ+ community through advocacy, support, education and celebration, the LGBT Community Center continues to uplift visible representation for the extensive spectrum.
Since its formation in 1975, the community center remains active in supporting the LGBTQ+ community with essential needs while educating the general public on the effectiveness of allyship.
The community center offers immersive programming for Greater Cleveland residents, focusing on programming that caters to multiple identities and key areas of interest. For example, the Queer Youth Initiative seeks and provides a support network for LGBTQ+ youth ages 11-20. Participants of this program can express themselves while uplifting each other through leadership development and advocacy.
LGBTQ+ Allies Lake County
After seeing an immense need from the community, residents of Lake County united to form LGBTQ+ Allies Lake County in 2019. The organization provides programming to encourage and uplift the surrounding LGBTQ+ community. It also advocates for closeted members of the community and provides training to build allyship.
Designed to promote inclusivity in the workforce, Safe Space Training is open for all members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community. The two-hour workshop delves into the understanding of gender and sexual identities, prejudice, assumptions and disadvantages that affect the community. Overall, sensitivity training like Safe Space Training helps build awareness and foster stronger relationships within the workforce, ultimately improving the health, commitment and satisfaction of employees.
If you are interested in participating in Safe Space Training along with your staff, you can sign up here.
Located on Lorain Road in Fairview Park, Colors+ is an organization that focuses on providing mental health support for LGBTQ+ youth and allies. Inspired by the noticeable gap in services for LGBTQ+ youth, two mental health counselors organized to launch the youth center.
Currently, the center is preparing to launch its virtual pride run. Starting on June 1 and continuing through July 31, participants can join the 5k at any location to raise funds for future programming at the youth center.
Colors+ offers various programs that pertain to counseling and support needs for youth. Members can participate in virtual movie nights, a support group for their affiliated identities or drop-in sessions to socialize and meet new friends. The center also provides counseling for all members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies.
Due to the pandemic, all programming and counseling sessions are held virtually. You can find more about the services Colors+ provides here.
LGBTQ+ Asset Mapping
In collaboration with Plexus and the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland, the LGBTQ Asset Map was recently launched to gain a better understanding of the community’s needs and assets. The collected research helps set priorities to strengthen strategies that will ultimately make Cleveland a more welcoming and supportive place for the LGBTQ+ community. There are several methods for those who are interested in becoming involved with the project, either through filling out the site’s survey, participating in focus groups or inputting valuable information to the asset map.
If you are interested in contributing to the asset map, you can find more information here.
Community Needs Assessment
In the effort to produce a better-informed public health system, Kent State University will be conducting the first comprehensive LGBTQ+ Community Needs Assessment (CNA). In collaboration with Greater Akron community organizations, the assessment will determine areas to prioritize to improve the health and well-being of the local LGBTQ+ community.
Kent State’s College of Public Health Program Coordinator Andrew Snyder leads the direction for the project. The assessment delves into seven key health domains that affect the community: health and wellness; religion and spirituality; education, housing, nutrition, business, safety and recreation.
If you are interested and wish to become involved with the assessment, you can contact Snyder at email@example.com. To learn more about the assessment, visit www.kent.edu/publichealth/lgbtq-greater-akron-community-needs-assessment.
An Upcoming Event You Should Check Out
In its annual Where We Are on TV, the advocacy organization GLAAD found that overall representation of LGBTQ+ characters on TV has decreased while racial diversity of queer characters increased. On June 17, The City Club of Cleveland, in partnership with the Cleveland Foundation and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, will engage the local community in a discussion on queer representation through media, literature and the arts.
Beyond Pride: Why LGBTQ+ Visibility Matters will examine stories revolving around LGBTQ+ characters and whether they represent the diverse community authentically. Join Deidre McPherson and Ken Schneck, Ph.D., in a virtual discussion on how to improve LGBTQ+ visibility in Northeast Ohio, moderated by Lauren R. Welch, Marketing and Communications Manager with the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland.
The live stream will begin at noon on June 17.
Click here for more information.