Gay Wellness

LGBT centers: by the community, for the community

LGBT Centers:  by the community, for the community


An LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) center is, by definition, an organization that provides resources, support, and services for members of the LGBTQ+ community - for anyone who defines themselves as being under this umbrella term. These centers are found in most cities all over the world and often offer a variety of services, including health care, legal help, counseling/coaching, support groups, social events, and education. 


Many LGBTQ centers strive to provide safe, inclusive spaces for folks to meet others who share similar identities and histories. 


“I was able to see my life with a new lens.” Is something you might hear from someone who has been around a Center and participated in their programs.


LGBTQ+:  an evolving set of identities

But who are these centers created to serve?


We have to start with just assembling the basic blocks of sexual orientation and gender identity, which is a vital part of someone’s development - one that is unique to each individual. We’re obviously talking about something that is not a one-time event, can change throughout one’s life, is shaped by many factors and influences, both internal and external.  The acronym — LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, or another diverse gender identity) — is actually distilled form of the “LGBTTTQQIAA” acronym from the words below.


Sexual Orientation

Gender Identity/Expression

Lesbian

Gay

Bisexual

2/Two-Spirit

Queer

Questioning

Intersex

Asexual

Pansexual

+ Agender

+ Bigender

+ Genderqueer

+ Gender Variant

+ Nonbinary

+ Pangender

+ Transgender

+ Transsexual


A new high of 7.1% of Americans have recently identified as LGBTQ+, and, for example, over half of LGB people identified as bisexual. This shows the range, scope, and complexity of our people.


Working at the LGBT Centers

Working at an LGBT center can be a meaningful and fulfilling experience for those who feel called to be of support to the LGBTQ+ community.  They feel they’re able to actually make a positive impact on others and help foster a more inclusive and supportive community.


Employees at an LGBT community center work with a diverse group of people, and have to be flexible to adapt to learn about a whole spectrum of identities that fall under this umbrella. (See above chart)


Working at an LGBT center can be a challenge, as they will work with people whose emotional situations can be dire, and need to provide support to those who are facing discrimination around their sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s the necessary work of making the world a more tolerable and human place, one life at a time.


We quote a president of an LGBT center:  “I decided early on that I only wanted to work at LGBTQ organizations; I knew I wanted to make change for and with the people of my community.” 


The core values of any quality LGBT center include respect, excellence, inclusiveness, innovation, and integrity, to name a few.


Services They Provide

LGBT centers provide a range of health care offerings aimed at serving the specific needs of the LGBTQ+ community. These services include:


HIV testing and care:  Many LGBT centers offer HIV testing and support for individuals living with HIV. They provide access to antiretroviral therapy and other medications, as well as counseling and support for those with HIV. 


Sexual health care:  LGBT centers provide a range of sexual health care services, including sexually-transmitted disease testing and treatment, contraception, and sexual health education.


Mental health care:  Many LGBT centers offer counseling and mental health services, including therapy and support groups. These groups are important for those who  face discrimination or stigma related to their sexual orientation or gender identity.


Primary care:  Some LGBT centers may also offer primary medical care services, such as physical exams, vaccinations, and general health checkups.


Overall, the goal of an LGBT center is to create a supportive and inclusive community for LGBTQ+ individuals and to provide the resources and support they need to live healthy, happy, and fulfilling lives.



 


 
 


 


 
 




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