<![CDATA[The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center of Greater Cleveland - BLOG]]>Tue, 05 Dec 2017 17:55:34 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Take Action: Ways to be an LGBTQ Advocate Locally]]>Fri, 01 Dec 2017 08:00:00 GMThttp://lgbtcleveland.org/blog/take-action-ways-to-be-an-lgbtq-advocate-locallyPicture
Gwen Stembridge, Equality Ohio

The Community is happy to introduce a new guest blogger, Gwen Stembridge. Gwen is the Northeast Ohio Coordinator for Equality Ohio and will be providing periodic updates about advocacy efforts around Ohio and the ways you can get involved.
Thank you to The Center for inviting me to be a guest blogger on The Community. Equality Ohio educates and advocates on behalf of LGBTQ Ohioans––you’ll find us in the rooms where decision-makers are doing something that might impact the community in some way. We try to make sure when decisions are being made about us, we’re a part of that process.
There’s plenty of advocacy happening locally, including an activist opportunity for you this weekend! Let’s jump right in.
There’s a new LGBTQ case before the Supreme Court. It’s Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
The plaintiffs are a couple named David Mullins and Charlie Craig who attempted to purchase a wedding cake from defendant Jack Phillips. Phillips declined to serve them. Colorado, unlike Ohio, has a statewide law that protects LGBTQ people from discrimination in accessing goods and services (known as public accommodations).
Decades ago Americans decided that discrimination in public accommodations was wrong––lunch counter protests and the civil rights movement forced Congress to act on that very thing. The issue at hand is whether deeply held religious belief trumps a law that makes discrimination illegal. The legal arguments are much more in-depth than our summary here, and you can read about the history of this issue here.
Join us this Saturday to help businesses be #OpenToAll.
To call attention to the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, and the fact that Ohio does not have non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Ohioans, the ACLU of Ohio is hosting an #OpenToAll Canvas this Saturday, December 2 at 11:00am in partnership with Equality Ohio.
We’ll meet up to distribute posters and then go out to local businesses and ask them to display a sign showing that they are #OpenToAll.
In coordination with this small business canvass, we hope to identify new businesses to sign up for Ohio Business Competes, a coalition of businesses throughout the state that support LGBTQ non-discrimination legislation. Details and RSVP here.
Stand up for LGBTQ people in South Euclid on December 11th.
South Euclid could become the 20th city in Ohio to pass LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections at this meeting. At the last meeting, there were people organized by the Cleveland Diocese speaking out against the nondiscrimination law, so we want as many supporters there as the fire code will allow.
Please wear blue to the council meeting, so council and any media present know we’re all there in support. Arrive at 6:45, committee meeting is at 7:00, full council meeting is at 8:00. Add it to your Facebook calendar here.
Note: the people who oppose this ordinance may say things that are hurtful. We will be present and peaceful and encourage you to not directly confront or communicate with the opposition.

<![CDATA[Donor Spotlight: #GivingTuesday]]>Fri, 01 Dec 2017 08:00:00 GMThttp://lgbtcleveland.org/blog/donor-spotlight-givingtuesdayEric Hayes, Communications & Development Coordinator

We’d like to say thank you to everyone who made a donation to the Center on #GivingTuesday this year.

#GivingTuesday takes place each year on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. It is a global movement to celebrate generosity and kindness by giving to nonprofit organizations around the world. In the same way that Black Friday and Cyber Monday signal the beginning of the holiday shopping season, #GivingTuesday kicks off the holiday giving season.

A special thank you to all of the people who volunteered their time and their voices to help us with our #GivingTuesday campaign. Thank you to Tom, Artima, Ace, and Judy for sharing their Center stories on our YouTube channel. Thank you to Erin Fox for her time and talent in the production of those videos.

Thanks to the generosity of our community, this year The Center was able to raise more than double what we raised last year. We are humbled by your support and are committed to honoring all of your contributions by continuing to work hard at our mission of enriching the lives of the diverse LGBTQ community through advocacy, support, education and celebration.

In this time when we are seeing new and renewed attacks on LGBTQ people at the local and federal level, support from the community means more than ever.

For more information about how you can support the Center, visit our website or call Shae London at (216)651-5428 ext. 109. Donate now.
<![CDATA[The Center Breaks Ground]]>Thu, 30 Nov 2017 18:28:51 GMThttp://lgbtcleveland.org/blog/the-center-breaks-ground​The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland is excited to come together with community members and key stakeholders to break ground on its new facility in the Gordon Square Arts District on Wednesday, December 13, 2017
The new facility will be located at 6705 Detroit Avenue across the street from The Center's current location, and will provide a versatile and modern space that will include programming and meeting space more than twice as large as the current Center location.
"When we were looking for a new home for the Center, a few universal themes emerged. It must be visible, accessible, sustainable, and within the city. What we will have is a traditional community center operating within a 21st century model. It is a place that all LGBTQ people, allies, and partner organizations can access in one location, with a spirit of community and welcome." - Tom Schiltz, President, Board of Directors.
The ceremony will begin at 12 PM and will include a gathering outside of the new facility location, a ceremonial groundbreaking by Executive Director Phyllis Harris and the Board of Directors, followed by photos and a brief reception. For those unable to attend this historic moment in person, the groundbreaking event will be livestreamed on the Center's Facebook here.
The new facility was made possible by the generosity of an anonymous angel donor who contributed nearly $5 million dollars to cover the cost of the building, including the purchase of the lot, demolition, new construction and related expenses. The Center will own its property for the first time in its history. The Center will be sustained well into the future with a $1 million endowment made possible by a $500,000 challenge grant awarded by The Milton and Tamar Maltz Family Foundation and the generous investments of hundreds of donors.
"We are incredibly grateful to our generous donors and dedicated community partners for helping us realize this dream. Collectively, we are creating an environment where LGBTQ people throughout northeast Ohio and beyond will be affirmed, celebrated and provided with the best services and programs that we all deserve. We look forward to welcoming the community to The Center's new home." - Phyllis Harris, Executive Director. 
Please join us on Wednesday, December 13th at 12 PM at 6705 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44102. For more information about the event, contact Development Manager, Shae London at (216) 651-5428 x 109 or by email at SLondon@lgbtcleveland.org
<![CDATA[How One Mother is Trying to Change the World of Children's Clothing]]>Wed, 15 Nov 2017 18:22:53 GMThttp://lgbtcleveland.org/blog/how-one-mother-is-trying-to-change-the-world-of-childrens-clothingBy: Nikki Yeager

Hey readers! Say hello to The Community’s first guest blogger, Nikki Yeager. Nikki is an entrepreneur, writer, and mother. She’s a Cleveland native and now splits her time between New York City and Ohio City. Check out her store
Every Bean, which sells non-gendered infant and toddler clothing! - Eric Hayes, Communications and Development Coordinator
I remember reading an article years ago about a boy who liked to wear tutus. He was somewhere between 5 and 8 years old, identified as a boy (as much as a typical 5-8 year old gender-identifies), and was photographed playing with trucks in a field while wearing his princess tutu. I read the anecdote and thought he was awesome. I should have stopped there, but I didn’t; I opened the comments section.
Like every time I read the comments, I immediately regretted the decision. The amount of vitriol being hurled at the writer/mother was heartbreaking. The fact that so many people cared if a kid wore a bunch of tulle around his waist was appalling.
That story stuck with me when I had my own child; a boy of my own. When he was born, we got hand-me-downs in both traditional boy and girl patterns -- the donors too lazy to sort through them. We were thrilled by the supply of clothing and I favored the most practical items regardless of appearance: a pair of footie pajamas in leopard print, neon pink leggings, and every single onesie we could get our hands on. It wasn’t unusual to see my kid rolling around in a NYC onesie under pink pants and thigh-high football patterned socks. People would come up to us confused, not sure how to refer to him. It was as if when I took away the overt gendering of his clothing, the world no longer knew how to interact with him. At the time he couldn’t even talk, he couldn’t even walk. But still, people felt the need to gender identify before cooing at him or touching his pudgy little hands.
It was odd, but not particularly bothersome at first. Until one day he was wearing those same pink leggings and a relative told him he needed to pick up a tool belt and hang out with more boys. He wasn’t even 18 months at the time! He didn’t even know what a boy was. It was the first time I felt the blinding, protective anger that only a parent can feel. The kind that reaches to your very core.
So I decided to do something about it right then and there.
I decided to change the world of children’s clothing. Lofty goal? Yes. Was I still going to try? Of course. So I tested my design chops and made a line including several onesie designs out of the softest material I could find, and set to work making tutus that were adjustable for extended sizing. The onesies included sayings like “I wear every color in the rainbow” and “Anything I want to be” and had product descriptions that avoided the use of gendered pronouns. I styled the photos exactly how I style my kid -- in whatever clothing combination was most fun for the little one.
Throughout the course of product development, I started to do my research and found that the idea of pink for girls and blue for boys didn’t even exist until the ‘50s. Pockets disappear from “girl” pants as early as 12 months. I spoke at TransOhio on gender neutral childhood. I created PDFs for boutiques on how to remove gendered language and merchandising from their store.
Did I change the world? Not yet. But I have gotten my message out to a wider audience and was recently accepted into a consortium of likeminded businesses called Clothes Without Limits. I’ve provided a safe place to shop for families who feel like me and my family and I plan to continue doing so as we expand. We’re starting to sell partner company’s brands during a Black Friday Sale this year and we’re working on some dynamite leggings for next winter.
Our goal is to remove gender stereotypes from clothing because clothing is not gendered. Clothing is simply fabric sewn into various patterns. It should be seen as such -- free for anyone to wear. And when it comes to children we believe that clothing should be chosen based on practicality and enjoyment. If a little bean likes it, that child should be able to wear it. We hope to see more stores, and more brands taking notice. Between us all, maybe we can make a future that’s accepting to everyone.
To follow Every Bean's journey, check out our website or our Facebook.
If you’re interested in being a guest blogger on The Community, contact Eric Hayes at EHayes@LGBTCleveland.org
<![CDATA[Donor Spotlight]]>Wed, 15 Nov 2017 18:19:58 GMThttp://lgbtcleveland.org/blog/donor-spotlight5520608Picture
Bob Sferra is a culinary arts professional with experience and training in France and New York City.  His company, Culinary Occasions, is well-known in the Cleveland community through Bob’s frequent engagements, television appearances and teaching. His husband, Matt Walsh, is the chair of the department of general surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. Bob and Matt have been together for 24 years.

Bob first came to the Center in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s when the Center was located on West 29th. He participated in a coming out party and soon after he donated catering services for the 1994 and 1995 Garden Parties. In 2008, Bob joined the Center’s Board of Directors and he has served on the Board for 10 years. In 2009, Bob helped to create an ongoing culinary program for the youth program at the Center in which the group created a meal together once a week, followed by dinner and conversation. Throughout his many years of service with the Center, Matt has been Bob’s greatest emotional support.

On top of the years of volunteer service, Bob and Matt have also been longtime donors: “The main inspiration to give is simply the ability to be in a position to give.  We have great family, home, work and social lives; seeing people in need seems like an easy reason to offer support be it financial, educational or time and energy!” Bob and Matt also support the Human Rights Campaign, the Stonewall Democrats, and LGBT political candidates, and Matt is involved with the Diversity Council at the Cleveland Clinic.

“Our hope is that the new LGBT Center is a dynamic epicenter for the Gordon Square Community as a great neighbor, community partner, business incubator, service resource for those groups that have relied on the Center for the last 40+ years.In particular, we hope to expand on the Youth and Senior Culinary Program with a well-appointed kitchen.”

Thank you Bob and Matt!

For more information about how you can support the Center, click here or call Shae London at (216)651-5428 ext. 109. Donate now.

<![CDATA[Mark your calendars, make a difference! #GivingTuesday]]>Thu, 09 Nov 2017 20:33:48 GMThttp://lgbtcleveland.org/blog/mark-your-calendars-make-a-difference-givingtuesday​This has been quite a year for the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland. We have experienced joy and success, as well as sorrow and uncertainty. 
The Center celebrated the 2nd Annual Pride in the CLE with a week of events throughout Cleveland leading up to the electrifying march and festival in Public Square. We danced the night away at the LGBTQ+ Youth Prom with over 100 youth. We hosted the first ever Trans in the CLE Conference to offer members of Cleveland's transgender and gender non-conforming community an opportunity to engage in educational opportunities, access resources, and make new connections. 
In stark contrast, we also faced a renewed effort from the highest levels of our government to deny the rights of LGBTQ people, including a ban on transgender individuals serving openly in the military and the US Department of Justice arguing that it is legal for employers to discriminate against people for being gay.
Whether we are celebrating our lived truths or fighting the tide of discrimination, the Center's commitment to the well-being of the LGBTQ community is as strong as ever. We are driven by the challenges we face to dedicate ourselves even further to our mission to enrich the lives of the diverse LGBTQ+ community though advocacy, support, education, and celebration. 
Please help us continue serving Cleveland's LGBTQ community by joining the national day of giving movement, #GivingTuesday on November 28th .
With your help, we hope to raise $10,000 this year to support the LGBTQ community of Northeast Ohio through our programs, services, and events. 
How can you be a part of the #GIvingTuesday movement? Here are a few simple ideas:
  • Consider making a gift on #GivingTuesday

  • Make a donation at anytime on our website 
  • Give your time by getting involved with our volunteer program
  • Help us spread the word through social media by using #LGBTGivingCLE
  • Take a photo that demonstrates why you love The Center and tag us on Facebook and Twitter!
  • Do something kind to support the LGBTQ people in your life
As Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping begin to take over the airwaves this year, be sure that you remember the spirit of giving that is at the heart of the holiday season. On Tuesday, November 28th, we hope you will take a moment to support the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland and take a stand for the rights of the LGBTQ community.
<![CDATA[Shaker Student, Ose Arheghan, Named GLSEN's Advocate of the Year]]>Wed, 01 Nov 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://lgbtcleveland.org/blog/shaker-student-ose-arheghan-named-glsens-advocate-of-the-yearEric Hayes, Communications & Development Coordinator 

I have never been so excited to write a blog post as I am to write this one.

I met Ose Arheghan in January 10, 2017. I was facilitating a Center program called Prevention Warriors, which is an LGBTQ-inclusive, comprehensive sex education program at Cleveland Heights-University Heights Library. On the first day of Prevention Warriors, 2 youth from the group are selected to become peer leaders for the duration of the program. In exchange for a small stipend, those youths help me with set up and clean up, bring back resources for the rest of the group, and help lead activities during the lessons. Ose Arheghan was one of the most impressive teens I met during the two years I spent working with the Center’s youth program. I’m incredibly proud to report that less than one year later she’s been honored nationally as GLSEN’s Student Advocate of the Year and received this award alongside household names like DC Entertainment, Kerry Washington, and Zendaya.

“My advocacy stems from my experience. As a queer person of color, making sure my identities are affirmed and protected in schools and through policy is personal.”

Ose began her work as an advocate last year as a junior in high school leading Shaker Heights’ Principal Student Leadership Team Cultural Proficiency Subcommittee. She took GLSEN’s model anti-discrimination policy for schools to the principal, superintendent, and school board and was able to get explicit protections for students based on sexual orientation and gender identity adopted at a district level. She also ran a year-long series on diversity in school newspaper that highlighted LGBTQ voices.

She has gone to the Ohio Statehouse twice to lobby the state legislature around funding after-school activities and LGBTQ protections for students and recently she travelled to Washington DC with Advocates for Youth to lobby Congress to defund abstinence-only sexual health programs.

The GLSEN Student Advocate of the Year upholds the ideals of respect, safety, and inclusion for all students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. Ose felt so much pride and joy in her successes, that she nominated herself so that she could share her work and inspire other youth to become advocates as well: “My favorite part was giving my speech. I was able to craft a 4-minute speech, explaining why I thought youth advocacy was important and why queer youth, especially queer youth of color, deserve space to thrive. I was in a room of 600 celebrities, executives and stakeholders in the LGBT community -- many of whom came up to me after and told me that my words had an impact on them. It's still hard to comprehend that me, a queer kid from Ohio, had the opportunity to make an impact on so many people.”

Ose plans to go to college next year to study International Relations, Queer Theory, and Journalism. “I want to advocate for international LGBTQ rights. I want to be able to make an impact on the lives of queer people from both a structural, policy level and a more personal one. I want to continue using my voice to share my story and uplift marginalized voices in the community, centering queer people of color in my work.”

Her advice for other teens interested in advocacy?

“Do not let anyone stop you. When it comes to advocacy, especially LGBTQ advocacy, not everyone is going to agree with what you're doing. It can be difficult to find spaces where people value youth input, but fighting for those spaces is imperative.”

For more information about Ose’s award, check out GLSEN’s website.

Congratulations, Ose! We’re all so proud of you!
<![CDATA[Donor Spotlight: Brian Harrington]]>Wed, 01 Nov 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://lgbtcleveland.org/blog/donor-spotlight-brian-harringtonPicture
Brian Harrington is the IT and Marketing Manager for Conveyer & Caster - Equipment for Industry. In this position, he focuses on building systems that improve efficiency, encourage communication and conversation, and better the customer experience. 
He is also the cohost of the CLECast, which is a weekly podcast about good people doing gooder things in the goodest city on earth: Cleveland, Ohio!
Brian first got involved with Center as a teenager. He began coming to the youth group after he came out in 1999: "Being able to be my whole, real self in a place and not feel threatened or intimidated was wonderful. My time as a youth at the Center helped shape me into who I am today." He came back to the Center after he moved to the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood and is now a member of the Center's Board of Directors.
Brian gives to the Center because he wants others to have access to the same support he received as a Center youth participant. "I remember being bullied, harassed, and assaulted as a teen, the Center made me feel okay, made me feel normal. No matter how bad my week was, it was always better when I walked through the door. That's a lot to get from an organization. I want to make sure that the Center is here to support everyone, especially queer youth, for generations to come."
As a member of the Board, Brian has been a major part of putting together Pride in the CLE. He and his husband, Andy, also play kickball and dodgeball as members of Stonewall Sports - Cleveland and they have found some amazing new friends as a part of the Stonewall Sports community.
Brian is excited for the future of the Center, and can't wait to see the new building in his neighborhood. "I was involved in youth group when we moved from West 29th Street to Detroit Avenue. I think having a more visible and iconic presence is great for our community. I think it speaks to how far we've come as a community, as well. I'm proud to be a part of it."
For more information about how you can support the Center, visit our website or call Shae London at (216)651-5428 ext. 109. Donate now.

<![CDATA[Center Update: Trans in the CLE]]>Wed, 01 Nov 2017 04:00:00 GMThttp://lgbtcleveland.org/blog/center-update-trans-in-the-cle​On Saturday, October 14th the Center proudly presented the first ever Trans in the CLE Conference. The conference was sponsored by Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and hosted by Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and was a day for the Cleveland trans and gender non-conforming community to come together for connection, organization, and celebration.
The theme of the conference was Trans in the CLE: Survive to Thrive and featured workshops that presented topics all along that spectrum. There were sessions focusing on survival, such as providing feedback to the Cleveland Community Police Commission, HIV prevention, policy organizing, and queer theory in clinical practice, but there were also sessions that focused on thriving. There was a stress release workshop, a writing workshop, and even a sing along session with the Cleveland Transgender Choir. Keynote speakers Wriply Marie bennet and Auguste Ever Bolden engaged the crowd in a fireside chat, allowing for an open dialogue with conference participants. Following the sessions, affinity groups met to allow trans and gender non-conforming people of color, white trans and gender non-conforming people, and cisgender folks to connect and organize around the unique needs and opportunities of each group. After the sessions concluded, there was a celebration featuring food and drink, a DJ, and performances from local talent.
All of these different elements came together to create an amazing display of the talent, knowledge, and resilience of Cleveland’s trans community.
  • Over 130 registered guests attended
  • 30 volunteers helped organize and operate the conference
  • 15 workshops provided multiple opportunities for learning
  • 26 presenters shared their experiences and expertise
  • 18 trans-affirming organizations gathered to provide a buzzing resource marketplace for attendees
The success of the conference was due in large part to a grassroots collaboration between the Center and the community to create a space for trans people by trans people. The conference was planned by committee of local trans and gender non-conforming individuals who intentionally focused the conference around queer and trans people of color. Catering, photography, and entertainment were all provided by local queer and trans vendors.
Thank you to all of the staff, volunteers, attendees, presenters, and others who contributed to making Trans in the CLE a great day! We hope to see you all again next year!
<![CDATA[In Response to Hate Speech at Cleveland State University]]>Tue, 17 Oct 2017 20:19:33 GMThttp://lgbtcleveland.org/blog/in-response-to-hate-speech-at-cleveland-state-universityPhyllis Harris, Executive Director ​

On Wednesday, October 11th, we celebrated National Coming Out Day. This was a special celebration this year for students at Cleveland State University because it also celebrated the establishment of a drop-in space for LGBTQ people on campus. The celebration was short-lived as only days later CSU students, faculty, and staff were faced with the brutal reminder that there are those who would rather see us dead or suffer in silence than live our truths.

The flyers are a display of violence perpetrated against the LGBTQ community. One of the posted flyers provides rates of LGBTQ-related suicide while actively encouraging LGBTQ individuals to consider suicide themselves. Regardless of the misinformation related to suicide rates of LGBTQ people, it is absolutely appalling that such violent and hate-filled content would be posted, and later protected as freedom of speech, on a college campus.

Cleveland State President Ronald M. Berkman has since sent an update to his original statement calling the posters “reprehensible,” but also noted that current legal framework ‘makes it difficult’ to protect LGBTQ people on campus from such messaging. While we appreciate this clarification, it is imperative that leaders boldly use their power and influence to actively condemn hate speech of this kind. The focus of this conversation should remain on the physical and psychological safety of Cleveland State’s LGBTQ community and not on the rights of those who wish them harm.

White supremacist, anti-LGBT hate groups such as this are re-emerging in mainstream conversations, emboldened by the national discourse promoting violence towards marginalized communities. The content of this flyer is not about physical violence, it is about intimidation, oppression and dehumanization of queer and trans people. This incident clearly reminds us why visibility for LGBTQ people is important. Additionally, it reminds us why organizations like the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland and LGBTQ supportive resources at Cleveland State exist.

If you would like to support LGBTQ students at Cleveland State, there will be a meeting with Ronald Berkman and his staff tomorrow, October 18th at 2 PM in the Main Classroom Auditorium located at 1899 East 22nd Street.

​If you or someone you know is considering suicide, there are resources for help.
  • Cleveland Mobile Crisis: 216-623-6888
    • Crisis Text Line: Text 'GO' to 741-741 
  • National GLBT Hotline:  888-843-4564
  • Trevor Lifeline: 866-488-7386
  • Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860
  • SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline: 888-234-SAGE