By Gina Martinez
Elected officials gathered at Queens Borough Hall Tuesday to announce the opening of centers throughout the borough of Queens to serve LGBT families.
Councilmen Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), Paul Vallone (D-Bayside), Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) and Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) showed their support for The Queens LGBT Community Center’s plans to establish the community centers in their districts.
The LGBT Network said it has been has been providing services for over 22 years for LGBT communities on Long Island and operates four LGBT Centers. Since July 2014, the LGBT Network has grown strong roots in Queens and is providing programs and services to hundreds.
The LGBT Network’s Q Center has been working with middle schools to establish gay-straight alliance clubs and provide education and training for students, parents, and faculty in both middle and senior high schools.
The Q Center’s first location will be The Samuel Field YMCA at 58-20 Little Neck Parkway in Little Neck. The goal is to open LGBT Centers in Astoria/ Long Island City, Bayside/ Whitestone and The Rockaways within the next three years.
LGBT Network CEO David Kilmnick, talked about why centers like these are necessary.
“LGBT seniors who grew up in a society where discrimination was legal feel like they must go back into the closet in senior and assistant living facilities. Gay and bisexual men, particularly young men of color, are the fastest growing group in HIV infections,” he said. “LGBT people of color face the challenges of dual identities and double stigmas in discrimination. LGBT- headed families — and there are more and more LGBT people raising families right now — are facing new challenges for their children to have equitable treatment in their schools and in their local communities.”
Kilmnick contended that LGBT people of all ages are prime targets of hate and bias-motivated violence.
“All these factors combined contribute to a great sense of isolation and not feeling part of the community and that’s why the LGBT network is opening its first center, the Q Center, in Queens and will be on a fast trajectory to open more centers throughout the borough,” Kilmnick said. “Many lives depend on it and we have to do it.”
The support for these centers in Queens stems largely from the success of the Network’s centers in Long Island.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said “The LGBT Networks community centers in Nassau and Suffolk counties have done an outstanding job of providing safe spaces and life- changing services to LGBT individuals of all ages. It is therefore great that the LGBT Network will be opening similar centers here in Queens. Thanks to expansion, thousands of our borough’s LGBT residents will have access to vital resources that will help them live the healthy and happy lives they deserve.”
City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said “Too many LGBT individuals from youth to seniors cope with overwhelming feeling of isolation every day. It’s extremely important to give LGBT individuals a place to congregate, socialize and feel open to express who they are. I am thrilled to see the expansion of LGBT centers all over the city and right here in my home borough of Queens with the opening of the Q Center.”