LGBT Center is an Antidote to Hate

Rebecca Rolfe and Roberto Ordeñana are the executive director and deputy executive director, respectively, of the San Francisco LGBT Community Center. 

A version of this article originally published in the Bay Area Reporter

People of color, queer people, women, and people with disabilities know that bigotry is deeply rooted in this country's DNA. Our differences have always been used as a weapon to divide us.

Yet today, we are experiencing vitriol, hate, and bigotry that is more open, more championed and - worst of all - more actively enforced by our government than we have experienced in decades.

We are seeing many of the gains we have made eroded and renewed efforts to curtail our lives through things like religious exclusions, narrowing of voting rights, and taking away the very right of transgender and gender nonconforming people - including children - to use a bathroom in safety.

We are overwhelmed by the repeated physical and emotional attacks on so many of us and the near-constant anxiety and fear that informs so many of our lives - Dreamers unsure of their legal status, young people sleeping in parks, and transgender women living in fear of violence. This is happening right here in San Francisco. 

We are exhausted by the Bay Area's affordability crisis and the daily struggle to survive.

But we have the antidote to hate.

We are the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and allied community. When faced with challenges, we rise up! We are not powerless. We have a voice, and a vote. We are not without assets - and we know how to give generously of our time, our resources, and our hearts. We find inspiration in each other and in our many allies; inspiration in how violence and injustice are being called out: #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, and the teenagers from Florida speaking out so courageously and powerfully about gun violence.

We find hope in how our votes in places like Alabama and Pennsylvania - traditionally conservative strongholds - make clear that we will not tolerate hate and bigotry from our elected leaders. When faced with the worst moments of the AIDS crisis, we opened our homes to those who were stricken. We took to the streets to say this epidemic must end. And we commit now that we will get to zero new HIV infections.

And while the challenges we face are overwhelming, at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center we work to address these issues every single day. On this, our 16th anniversary, we are proud of what we have created. Tens of thousands of people rely on our direct services - we support some of the most vulnerable members of our community - and we are a community hub that has grown and evolved as the needs of our community have shifted. We innovate by bringing community together to find solutions, even for problems as intractable as homelessness.

Just last week we learned that our youth program qualifies for an expansion of its services. Later this year we will launch San Francisco's first Host Homes program for LGBTQ homeless youth, pairing youth without shelter to community members who will open their hearts and homes to them. We value and honor our youth who are too often disrespected or seen as disposable by creating community and a place they call home. We recently expanded the hours of our drop-in youth space and increased mental health services for them. We care deeply about the many people facing violence or deportation or hunger. Our information and referral program connects thousands of community members to critical services like shelter, medical care, and legal support.

Instead of allowing our differences to divide us, we celebrate our culture, shared histories, and lives. Hundreds of emerging artists have exhibited their works at the center, sharing their experiences and posing critical questions about our community's future. We address the affordability crisis in the Bay Area and help thousands of people struggling to survive. Our first-in-the-nation LGBT economic development program helps community members find employment, start and grow their small businesses, and find affordable housing.

And our volunteers and donors, through their investment in the center, fuel our movement striving to ensure that no one - particularly the most marginalized in our community - is left behind on our path to full equality. We have so much gratitude to every founder, public and private partner, individual and family that have invested in the center since before we even opened our doors 16 years ago.

These times call for all of us to leverage our collective histories of resilience and creativity to fight against injustice. Together, we will get through these difficult days with grace, compassion and generosity, and we are confident we will come out even stronger. We are sure of that.

Together we are building a stronger and healthier community. Click here to donate

If you would prefer to mail your donation, send it to: SF LGBT Center, 1800 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

Your gift provides incredible opportunities to tens of thousands of community members each year. Together, we stand proud knowing that we are making a difference. The Center could not be what it is without your support.

 



Photo: Rebecca Rolfe and Roberto Ordeñana greeted attendees at the LGBT center's Soiree benefit April 14 by Trish Tunney

Contact Person: 
Judi Baker

Pride Photo Awards

Opening Reception
Monday, May 22, 2017
6:00 - 7:00 PM

On view May 22-June 18, 2017

Please join us for a public gallery reception for the opening of the Pride Photo Award Exhibition. This opening event is held in honor of Harvey Milk Day and marks the cooperation between the City and County of San Francisco and the City of Amsterdam. Special guests: Stuart Milk, Founder and CEO of the Harvey Milk Foundation, and the Honorable Mark Leno, former California State Senator.

Pride Photo Award is an annual international photo contest focusing on sexual diversity and gender identity. Every year photographers from all over the world are invited to share their most imaginative, challenging and non-stereotypical take on gender and sexuality. An international jury of experts selects the very best work from which we make an exhibition for the world to see. The SF LGBT Center is excited to partner with the Pride Photo Award to bring a selection of winning photographs from the 2016 edition to the Center's new gallery space. The exhibition features the work of artists from 6 countries (listed below) and is on view May 22 through June 18.

Pride Photo Award contributes to a safer and more inclusive world by making sexual and gender diversity visible and creating awareness of the ‘other’. We believe that all people have the right to freely express their identity whoever and wherever they are. Moreover, it is our strong conviction that diversity should be celebrated and regarded as an asset rather than as a threat, to any society. The foundation, established in 2010, is based in Amsterdam and an initiative of COC Amsterdam, IHLIA and the Homomonument Foundation. It receives support and advice from photo museum Foam and World Press Photo. www.pridephotoaward.org

Artists include (Artist, Country | Title of Artwork/Series):
Nobuhiro Shirai, Japan | Dinner Time of the Family
Gian Cruz, Philippines | You As Me
Kris Sanford, United States | Through the Lens of Desire
Lana Yanovska, Ukraine| Polarity
Vincent Gouriou, France | Mélanie & Her Family
Frédéric Noy, France | Ekifire
Vianney Le Caer, France | Beirut Sun Tanners
Elena Anosova, Russia | Section
Geloy Concepcion, Philippines | Reynas Delas Flores:
Manila's Golden Gays

Contact Person: 
Rosemary Gardner
Program: 
Gallery Shows
List Order: 
4

Soiree 15

15th Anniversary Soirée
 
April 8, 2017
 
5:00 PM Dinner

Ariel Koren

Associate Product Marketing Manager, Google & Founder, ACTION (Active Cross-cultural Training In Our Neighborhoods) (Leave of Absence) 

SF LGBT Center Statement on Pulse Nightclub Massacre

(San Francisco, CA, June 12, 2016)—This morning a gunman opened fire at Pulse, an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida. He murdered 50 people and injured 53, making it the worst mass shooting in U.S. History. Statement from SF LGBT Center Executive Director Rebecca Rolfe: “Our hearts are with the LGBTQ and entire Orlando community. Any violence is unacceptable in our society. And while our community has made historic strides in acceptance and equality, this tragedy is a painful reminder of the dangers LGBTQ people continue to face every day.”

Institute On Aging

Institute on Aging is a San Francisco, CA-based non-profit dedicated to preserving the dignity, independence, and well-being of aging adults and people living with disabilities.
 

Tips for Fab! Come Toast the Center

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 6:00PM - 9:00PM - Soda Popinski's at 1548 California St, San Francisco, CA 94109.  Join SF LGBT Community Center Board members, volunteers, and supporters for a night of toasting to fabulous. We'll be guest bartending at Soda Popinski's, which means all the tips we earn will be donated to the Center.

Exposition

Telling our stories on our own terms. Queer, Trans, & Ally Youth Art Showcase

Legal Clinic

The SF LGBT Center is partnering with BALIF to host a free legal clinic on Saturday, June 30, 2018. Areas of practice will be: 

 

Immigrant/Identity: Life at the Intersections

IMMIGRANT / IDENTITY: LIFE AT THE INTERSECTIONS - FILM, PANEL & COMMUNITY CONVERSATION

In Immigrant/Identity: Life at the Intersections, undocumented Filipina filmmaker & journalist Kenzi Hilario brings to light the untold experiences of four Bay Area residents experiencing life at the intersections of identity, immigration & injustice. Panel discussion, community conversation and resource fair to follow the film screening.

 

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