New Pride Agenda’s LGBTQ Drop-In Center : Empowering Queer and Trans New Yorkers

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Empowering New Yorkers : New Pride Agenda’s LGBTQ Drop-In Center

New Pride Agenda Inaugurates LGBTQ Drop-In Center

On the fourth floor of an unassuming building just blocks from Madison Square Garden, the New Pride Agenda team, a statewide LGBTQ education and advocacy organization, has diligently transformed this space into the city’s latest drop-in center catering to queer and transgender individuals in need.

Features of the Empowerment Center

Formally opening on January 25th amidst a bustling ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by numerous city-elected officials and LGBTQ leaders, the new facility at 210 West 29th St. is described as an “empowerment center.” This midtown site houses a computer lab for professional development, a food pantry, and free clothing options. Additionally, it offers a more expansive area intended to serve as an organizing hub for queer and trans communities. The drop-in center will be open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m.

New Pride Agenda’s Advocacy and Legacy

The New Pride Agenda has made a significant impact both statewide and locally by effectively advocating for initiatives such as the Lorena Borjas Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund. This fund provides funding across New York State for services dedicated to transgender individuals. This space symbolizes the organization’s latest endeavor and is adorned with colorful artwork celebrating LGBTQ heroes like Borjas, Bayard Rustin, Marsha P. Johnson, and Harvey Milk, honoring their legacy.

Reflecting on New Pride Agenda’s Journey

New Pride Agenda’s Executive Director, Elisa Crespo, introduced the new space during a pivotal moment, reflecting on the organization’s five-year journey since its inception.

Elected Officials and Community Support

Elected officials from the State Legislature and City Council enthusiastically took the podium one after another to welcome this new space and underscore the significance of providing essential services for marginalized individuals. Some lawmakers, including Brooklyn Councilmember Crystal Huson, pledged to encourage their constituents to visit, while Manhattan Assemblymember Tony Simone humorously remarked that it was so conveniently located near his office that he might occasionally escape from his staff.

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Advocating for Trans-Inclusive Policies

On a more serious note, Simone emphasized that this space would serve as a refuge for those without one, especially in the face of challenges to the rights of trans youth in various states. He commended the state for making New York a safe haven for trans youth and shared his collaboration with out gay State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal to ensure that every school district adopts trans-inclusive policies for students.

The Ongoing Fight and Organizational Importance

Simone acknowledged that passing this bill wouldn’t be easy and stressed the necessity of organizations like New Pride Agenda and their allies in getting such initiatives across the finish line, just as they did with the Safe Haven bill.

Shifting Focus to Urgent Priorities

The ribbon-cutting ceremony also marked the five-year anniversary of New Pride Agenda, prompting several speakers, including Crespo, Manhattan Councilmember Erik Bottcher, and Queens Councilmember Tiffany Cabán, to emphasize the need to shift focus from the fight for marriage equality to more pressing issues, including defending the rights of trans Americans.

Filling the Void and Upholding Marginalized Communities

Bottcher recalled the abrupt closure of the Empire State Pride Agenda in late 2015 and highlighted the importance of organizations like New Pride Agenda and Equality New York stepping in to continue the fight. He emphasized that New Pride Agenda has been intentional about uplifting trans and queer people of color who often live on the margins.

Creating a Safe Space for LGBTQ+ Youth

Manhattan Assemblymember Deborah Glick, recognized by Crespo for being the first openly LGBTQ+ member of the New York State Legislature, emphasized that the new center would be a critical resource, particularly for youth who might otherwise lack access to such an inclusive safe space.

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Importance of Visibility and Support

Glick noted that during her youth, spaces like this didn’t exist, and many young people still experience isolation. However, she emphasized the presence of an LGBTQ+ infrastructure and ecosystem that now supports young people.

Celebrating Positive Outcomes and Victories

State Senator Jabari Brisport shared a heartwarming story about one of his former students who came out as non-binary after seeing headlines about his election as the first openly LGBTQ+ Black person to the New York State Legislature. This story exemplifies how visibility can lead to positive outcomes.

Anticipating Progress and Community Benefits

Brisport stressed the importance of creating space for youth to express their true selves and highlighted that this space represents a victory, not just in elections but in the broader context.

The Promise of the New Space

Tiffany Cabán, filled with excitement, expressed her anticipation for the positive changes that would emerge from this space. She described it as the embodiment of movement and revolution, providing nourishment for people’s bodies and clothing for their backs. She eagerly looked forward to the positive impact this space would have on the queer community and the community at large.

Broad Support for the Initiative

In addition to state and city lawmakers, representatives from the offices of Governor Kathy Hochul, State Attorney General Letitia James, and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams were present. Melissa Sklarz, a respected trans leader in New York, also attended the event.

Community Resources and Support for the Future

Melissa Sklarz praised the New Pride Agenda and the LGBTQ+ community of New York for gathering resources and creating organizations and spaces that will safeguard the community’s well-being into the future.

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