LGBTQ Immigrants Relying On Community For Survival!
Time To Rally Our LGBTQ Centers In Shape!
According to NBC News, Nerveline Jude of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center in New York, is speaking of the importance of community centers. Jude, the facilitator of the Immigrant Leadership and Empowerment Group at New York’s LGBTQ Center, describes her journey of being an immigrant arriving in the United States without any connections. That is until, she discovered the LGBTQ center- eleven years ago. Currently, she empowers new LGBTQ immigrants to New York and assures that they have a space to be heard and loved.
Jude tells NBC News:
“When they come they are shy, but after a few sessions they open up. Some end up feeling emotional, because being among people like themselves matters. I use my experience to encourage them to be themselves and be who they are. That’s how I believe I mentor them.”
As I read the full article, receiving quotes from various members of New York’s LGBTQ center: I had my own thoughts. Being from the city of Chicago, I was fortunate to quickly befriend fellow LGBTQ kids during my early teens. We had what was once called The Broadway Youth Center, or simply, “The Center”. Quickly, I found The Center to be a special place for LGBTQ youth. As a sexually active teenager who obviously didn’t want my mother to know, I sought out the free testing services at The Center until it’s rebranding into a bigger, more elegant building.
I have an endless amount of stories from getting regularly tested in one of The LGBTQ Centers that I could write a novel about them. I’ve listened to many stories, overheard some I shouldn’t have, and became so informed on what my family and school wasn’t teaching me. Each time I left, I would take a brochure with me and gain knowledge of the LGBTQ community which wasn’t readily available in the late 2000s. The Center in Chicago not only offered free testing, but also gave educational programs, access to food stamps, and a safe space to those who were in need of it.
In my later years, I’ve all but forgot about The LGBTQ Centers. It’s a complete shame, as I once selfishly relied on them every three months. Some people, such as immigrants like Jude mentioned above, must rely on The Centers as their rock. Not only did it become Jude’s safe space, but her livelihood and employment. I am so inspired by those who work at these centers and find myself embarrassed that I haven’t been giving these heroes and volunteer workers in our community much more praise than they deserve. It’s time to begin paying closer attention to helping our community, far and wide, feel safe in the United States and know that we are here for them when they arrive.
Writer's Note: This is the opinion of only one Instinct contributer.
To check out NBC News’ full article on LGBTQ Immigrants needing safe spaces, head here!