Feb. 1, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
A new LGBT center opened its doors today in Long Island City in a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by multiple state and city officials.
The Queens LGBT Community Center, or the Q-Center, is located at 37-18 Northern Blvd., and is part of the larger LGBT Network, a group that started on Long Island 25 years ago. The group serves members of all ages from the LGBT community of Long Island and Queens through their multiple centers, with the Long Island City location as their fourth.
The Q-Center offers programs and services ranging from HIV/STI prevention, senior services, and social get-togethers in a safe space. Other programs include their Safe Schools Initiative, which works to bring anti-bullying workshops to nearby schools, along with training to faculty, staff, and families.
The Q-Center will also provide HIV testing and screening on site beginning in March, and will also help visitors apply for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Their newest initiatives, however, include combating hate crime in unison with the Queens District Attorney and the NYPD, and a program that supports parents of LGBT people in immigrant communities.
David Kilmnick, president and CEO of the LGBT Network, said these two initiatives are especially significant, given alarming statistics from 2016 that show hate crimes against the LGBT community in New York City have shot up. Many have linked the rise in hate crimes to Trump’s presidency.
“Today the LGBT community is facing challenges we didn’t think we would have to after eight years of progress under the Obama administration,” Kilmnick said. “Our new center is respondent to these challenges in front of us.”
Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Long Island City), who is openly gay, spoke to the importance of having a safe space in Long Island City for the LGBT community, and for programs that help young adults, especially in schools, come to terms with their identity, as he had to do as a high school student.
“I stopped going to school for months at a time,” Van Bramer said. “I was afraid that if I spoke in class people would hear my voice and automatically know I was gay. That’s how terrified I was of being who I am today.”
The Q-Center is one of few LGBT-serving groups in the community, including Out Astoria.
The LGBT Network’s has partnered with over 60 schools since its inception, and its variety of programs and services help over 350,000 people a year. For more information on the Q-Center, visit the LGBT Network online.