Monday, March 12, 2012

Ambicious and Thriving : Long Beach Gay Community

Hot Java on East Broadway in Long Beach California
by Nayeli Carrillo
Long Beach is known for its diversity and with a strong LGBT community we have not only seen a stronger health awareness but an emphasis of how open and bonded the entire LB community is.

Interviewing The Center's newly promoted Administrative Director Porter Goldberg he discussed the establishing of the Center and its growth from a living room discussion to a social service organization.  According to him their formation came from a “a need into the community for our community to come together and get to know each other” especially with the lack of acceptance at the time in 1977.

 He’s extremely proud of their ability to not only help the LGBT community but also provide information, services, assistance and culture programming to the over all Long Beach community, further strengthening the connection among the city’s residents.  Some of the services include youth empowerment, overeater anonymous support group (people battling compulsive eating) , minority support groups, a hate crime hotline and the LGBT film festivals.

A recent event being hosted is a Women’s History Month Speaker series every Friday in March and the second in April at 6:30 to showcase accomplished women in traditionally male-dominated fields.

Long Beach’s Cal State University is also strong in aiding its gay community with their Delta Lambda Phi chapter, the first chapter was established in 1986 in Washington D.C. The group is set apart by its striving to creating a brotherhood, quality and lifelong bonds of friendship and support Proud member David Pham says he is active member of the fraternity, which is in fact the only gay fraternity in the nation, recently becoming international as they established a chapter in Montreal, Canada. 

The Long Beach chapter was actually established only 3 years after the original one and by far one of the oldest chapters.  They are striving by being involved in the community with projects such as Relay for Life, Glaad Media Awards, Gay Days at Disneyland and Long Beach Pride.

The LB gay community presence was actually one of the reasons David came to Cal State Long Beach. “ I was definitely scouting the area and whether it was gay-friendly or not, so I definitely knew what a huge gay community that Long Beach had.  I was aware of the many services they had from gay youth chats to support groups to gay coffee places”, he adds. He even mentioned how one of our own alumni is co-owner to Hot Java, a hotspot for LGBTQ group meetings.

A great event the Delta Lambda Phi is particularly proud to organize and present every year as part of their way to support their Philanthropies tis Dragilicious.  The event, which raised $1,200 in ticket sales last year, with proceeds going to the LGBTQ center on campus, invites people to come out and perform in drag.  This year’s proceeds will go to two projects, the “It Gets Better” Project and the “Trevor Project”. 

The Trevor Project is a leading national organization, which “provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth” with recent spokesperson actor Daniel Radcliffe.

The other project is the “It Gets Better Project” which not only deals with suicide as a secondary prevention service but rather a primary prevention service by showing LGBT youth and groups their potential of happiness and positivity with their lives.  It helps them to look past the obstacles to their maximum capacity and that life “WILL get better.” 

Co-chair for Dragilicious and Delta Lambda Phi member Jose Miguel Santiago says his involvement with Dragilicious came from his desire to volunteer and in turn it makes him empowered and optimistic for the gay community as a whole.  It’s become clear that support continues to grow with people attending and supporting the cause showing the growing acceptance that organizations like The Center hoped to create through their establishment. 

The number of Gay friendly establishments in Downtown Long Beach such as cafes and bars and Long Beach Pride growing in years is not only a result of a growing LGBT community but the amount of press the city has. 

Part of what is evident in their success is this specific community’s ambition to strive for equality.  Miguel actually re-established the Gay-Straight Alliance at his high school during his junior year through which he actually created a more gay-friendly campus and helping his students educating them about Signs of Suicide prevention presentations and Bullying/Gay bashing prevention.  He has also become involved with volunteering in the LB Aids Walk and volunteering at the LB Pride.

Goldberg has said that he’s proud of seeing the city thrive and their embracing of the community’s diversity.  The city’s local government, businesses and community organizations have all been incredibly supportive and show just how strong the Long Beach Community is.    

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