During the coming out process a center would've been integral in helping me learn who I am really am, as well as provide a safe space for me to meet other like-minded and LGBT+ individuals. Instead I turned to drugs/alcohol and other self-destructive behaviors. After reaching my sobriety I made a promise that I would help other people struggling with similar issues. A physical center doesn't only provide a safe space, but provides a safe haven mecca for the community. A space to come together and celebrate who we are-not afraid of living authentically, openly, and proud.
Tim’m T. West
Co-founder Cincinnati Black Pride, Educator, Hip-Hop Artist, and Community Activist
I’ve worked in or with numerous LGBTQ+ Centers for nearly 3 decades: I practically came out in New York City’s center in the early 90s but hated how it was all walled up in order to be considered a safe space. So I valued directing Youth Services at Chicago’s Center on Halsted 20 years later in a space with glass windows. We didn’t need to hide anymore; and could celebrate our Pride beyond the parade or festival. Centers have historically been a marker of how a city supports their LGBTQ+ community. With centers in Dayton, Columbus, Louisville, Indianapolis, it’s almost shameful to say that my native Cincinnati doesn’t have a center. We once did, but I believe we can create the kind of diverse and inclusive space that truly reflects the promise and unity our great city deserves.
Deb Meem and Michelle Gibson
We are very aware of the push by Trump and the GOP to roll back protections for LGBTQ+ people of all ages, races, genders, and income levels. It would be easy for us, as white middle class retired professionals, to feel immune from the government-sanctioned hatred emanating from Washington and elsewhere in MAGA country. But we recognize the urgent need for queers and allies to come together around our issues and the rest of the intersectional multiverse. We support a new Center, particularly as it helps us commit to justice for all.
Community Member &
I just came back to Cincinnati from college, and I have been finding it much more difficult to connect with queer Cincinnatians, and a center would be an amazing home base for LGBT youth and adults alike.
Community Member and GLSEN
Disenfranchised groups need a space to see that they are not alone; somewhere to get support and services and build friendships. There is also a need in Cincinnati because many LGBTQ people have to constantly hide who they are out of fear of judgement which can be detrimental to emotional and mental health. As a Puerto Rican man who has made Cincinnati home, a center could provide a space where people like myself don't have to live in fear.
Leader, National Association of Asian American Professionals
A center to empower local LGBTQ + communities in an intersectional manner would be powerful and is much needed. We must work extra hard to insure that this city is welcoming to all and can provide more opportunities for diverse LGBTQ+ individuals.
I recently relocated to Cincinnati from Chicago and it’s been very difficult to identify a starting place to reconnect with the LGBTQA+ community. I was spoiled having the Center on Halsted as a go-to-spot back home. As a former Dean of Students for Chicago Public Schools, it was incredible to have a centralized location to refer individuals to for whatever resource or support they may have been looking for. It’s become evident however that Cincinnati is very siloed and it would be incredible to bring the community, resources and city together all in one location. Often there is a false sense of community and support in modern day due to social media. Having a physical space would allow individuals who identify as LGBTQA+ to truly come together in a community space to seek out friends, mentors, social and educational opportunities and more! Having a physical center and homebase for our community would also ensure we’re not duplicating events and efforts so we can truly invest and foster growth among our community for years to come.
Nearly 10 years after relocating to Greater Cincinnati, it’s still challenging to find a gathering place for the LGBT community. I’ve always had to do a lot of research to identify where things happen in Cincy. People often ask me...how did you find out about this event or organization? As a Cincinnati resident, entrepreneur and community advocate, I would love a LGBT center in my local area. This would be a safe place that provides a multitude of resources focused on education, health, business and fun! A place where we can be ourselves and visit daily. Hopefully the new Building Bridges Center in Cincinnati will be a place for us to make new friends, grab a bite to eat, attend events or talk to a licensed healthcare professional. It’s time we come together and develop something of our own.
Community Educator and Organizer; Singer with MUSE: Cincinnati's Women's Choir
I’ve lived in Cincinnati for most of my life and have been a community organizer and activist for 19 years. I have always longed for a space where the queer community could come together across our individual differences and work to lift each other up. My goal is to create a center that acts as service hub, connecting folx to resources and organizations where they can put their passion to use. I envision a center that is committed to cooperative leadership, driven by it’s membership, and that centers the voices of the most marginalized among us. Let us create a place where we can build strong and healthy relationships and work towards equity and inclusion for all.
Jamond J. Foree
Communications Chair, Black Bear Brotherhood- Cincinnati
I was born and raised in Cincinnati with a magical essence I simply could not name. I never quite saw it reflected in community leadership, or felt like my experience aligned with other brown boys in my neighborhood. As a result I felt different, othered and ostracized. It is my hope that through an LGBTQ+ Center, kids growing up in Cincinnati, especially queer and trans youth of color, can find solace in a community that affirms and encourages their gifts.
Jennifer A. Ingram
Director, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, United Way of Greater Cincinnati
In my hometown of Detroit, MI, LGBTQ service agencies like Affirmations and the Ruth Ellis Center provide safe spaces for fellowship and support community building. As a local leader dedicated to making the Greater Cincinnati region more equitable and inclusive, I thoroughly believe that Cincinnati would greatly benefit from a similar organization.
Dwight Marvin, MA
Director of Admissions, Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky
The LGBTQ+ community in Northern Kentucky and the Greater Cincinnati area needs an all-inclusive space to gather, utilize mental health services, and celebrate their individuality. Building Bridges places an emphasis on inclusion and community building. They give an enormous amount of time to help support the Tri-State area for the right reasons without judgement or conditions. If you don’t know them, you should.
Doug Cooper Spencer
Author, Cincinnati Native, Co-Director of 2009 Open Eyes Festival
In my 47 years as an openly gay black man, I’ve been part of a vibrant black culture. Unfortunately, that culture— it’s people, stories, and thoughts— are rarely acknowledged with authenticity in the cannon of LGBTQ history. Stories that make up history and the cultures involved, belong to everyone, and most importantly, should be told and heard by everyone. It’s way past time to change that narrative. Tell the stories, share the histories that haven’t been told. We not only exist, we live. We not only existed, we lived. Let it be known.
Executive Director, Caracole, Inc.
Caracole is proud to support Building Bridges and their plans for an LGBTQ+ Community Center here in Greater Cincinnati. We believe that being open-minded, non-judgmental and empathetic creates an environment of safety essential to preserving dignity. In fact, this type of unconditional inclusivity is one of our core values. We applaud Building Bridges for endeavoring to create such an example of this in our community.”
2019 Candidate for Cincinnati Public School Board
The students of True Colors (Dater High School’s GTSA) are my babies and as a parent, and a candidate for Cincinnati Public Schools Board in 2019, I’m a strong advocate for the needs for a center. As an ally and conspirator to many marginalized communities, I continue to show up at the table with organizations like Cincinnati Black Pride, who strongly desire to create an LGBTQ+ community center in Cincinnati. As a central hub for our support and resources, I can have peace of mind knowing there’s a place LGBTQ+ youth in Cincinnati can go when I’m unable to.