LGBTQ+ Center to address needs of 19 counties in the region

ATHENS, Ohio  – A new LGBTQ+ Center is coming to
support, serve, and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community in Southeast
Ohio.

Interested volunteers can come to an informational meeting on
Monday, January 23 at 7 p.m. at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Athens. This meeting will provide background and details of the new Center, cover volunteer and donor opportunities, and seek input on the needs of the Southeast Ohio LGBTQ+ community.

“There are some unique challenges for the LGBTQ+ community in
Southeast Ohio, especially in rural areas with limited or no internet
access,” says Mike Straw, who chairs the committee working towards
opening the new center. “We want to give the community a safe space to access resources and have a voice. Hopefully, this meeting will be the start of making the voices of queer rural Appalachia heard.” Plans for the new Southeast Ohio LGBTQ+ Center include a safe space for people to visit, a resource library, meeting spaces, outreach programs, and a full-time staff to help community members access a network of
resources.

“The reality is that there are no LGBT-specific or -focused
organizations in Southeast Ohio beyond the LGBT Center at Ohio
University,” says delfin bautista, director of the Ohio University
LGBT Center. “And its personnel and resources are limited.” The two
centers will work together to better reach the community with a safe
space that supports and serves every LGBTQIA+ person and ally.

The Center’s first steps will be to obtain recognition as an official
non-profit organization, identify specific areas of need that the
center will serve, acquire a temporary operating location and initial
staff, then begin the work of finding and opening a permanent Center
in the community. All of this will require significant financial and
volunteer resources to be successful.

Anyone interested in the new center, volunteering, or providing
insight should attend the meeting on January 23.  All LGBTQ+
individuals and allies are welcome. The Episcopal Church of the Good
Shepherd is located at 64 University Terrace in Athens. Parking is
available but it may be limited and carpooling is encouraged.

More information is also available on the Center’s Facebook page
(facebook.com/seohrainbow). Interested supporters can also email
info@seorainbow.org or call 740-231-5428.