Sacramento LGBT Community Center
The Sacramento LGBT Community Center's mission is to create a region where LGBTQ+ people thrive. We support the health and wellness of the most marginalized, advocate for equality and justice, and work to build a culturally rich LGBTQ+ community.
The Sacramento LGBT Community Center has provided health and wellness support to the most marginalized, advocated for equality and justice, and worked to build a culturally rich community LGBTQ community for more than 30 years.
Our programs, partnerships, and events strive to create a region where LGBTQ people thrive. We work to build a healthier community by offering peer support groups, mental health respite and homeless drop-in for youth and adults, community resource referrals, sexual health education, HIV testing and prevention services. We advocate for equity and justice, economic empowerment, family building, and LGBTQ research. We participate in a variety of regional task forces, advisory panels, and working groups to ensure collaboration across agencies. We produce Sacramento Pride, an annual commemoration of the Stonewall Riots and celebration of diversity and a number of community building events throughout the year.
- Our three decades of service and average of 40,000 service visits annually provide anecdotal evidence of our success through the stories of lives we have changed.
The goal of our health and wellness programs is to reduce the health disparities experienced by LGBTQ people and improve overall community health.
The Q-Spot youth drop-in center provides a place where they can feel safe, welcome, and affirmed for who they are as well as access services and learn the life skills that will help them make positive choices for their health and well-being seven-days per week. 40% of our youth clients are homeless and can get a free simple meal, shower, do laundry, nap and hang out free from the stress of the street. We offer access to WiFi, computers, and peer advocate mentors to provide assistance looking for housing, employment, social and health services, and educational resources. We also offer six youth groups each week.
Our adult mental health respite center focuses on early intervention to prevent mental health crisis. We offer respite and access to affirming community resource referrals including housing, employment, medical care, counseling, and much more. We host over a dozen community groups that support people of color, transgender individuals, men, women, those newly coming out, people recovering from addiction, and people with disabilities. We also offer a number of social support groups including Pansexual Pancake Breakfasts, Melanin Movement Brunches, and Rainbow Families playdates.
Our HIV health program focuses on drop-in and event targeted HIV/HCV testing, distribution of safer sex barriers (condoms and lube), safer sex education, PrEP education and navigation, and peer support for people living with HIV.
The Center recently opened a new housing program, providing four-unit transitional housing services for youth (18-24) aimed at emergency housing and hotel/motel vouchers to increase crisis response and case management services for those experiencing homelessness. This is the first step to address issues of LGBTQ victims of crime, devastating rates of homelessness experienced by LGBTQ youth, and a higher need for counseling and legal services.
Most youth experiencing homelessness are eager to talk to our advocates or case managers when they come to our Q-Spot youth drop-in center. They tell hair-raising and heartbreaking stories of parental rejection, substance abuse, violent assault, the sex industry, and sleeping under bridges and in cars that are left unlocked. Zach was different. He walked through our doors with nothing but the clothes on his back, and the look on his face told the story of hopelessness. We gave him a bag lunch and he sat down in the corner and dug into that sandwich like he hadn't eaten in days.
He still wouldn't say much and we didn't press it. His emotional scars were deep and may have prevented him from opening up or getting along with others. He did accept some new clothes and survival supplies and we were hopeful when he showed up at the Q-Spot again the next day. Zach took a shower and felt the day's challenges begin to wash away. He nourished himself, received fresh clothes and talked, a little hesitantly at first. And he continued to visit every day thereafter (the Q-Spot is open seven days a week). He began to look like an 18-year-old boy again.
We still didn't know where he went each night after leaving the Q-Spot but each day he spoke a little more to Kelsie, our peer youth advocate. One morning when they were talking he got up from the table quickly and stormed out the door. We thought that was the last we'd see of Zach, but a couple of days later, he stood at the Q-Spot door and asked for Kelsie. They went into a room and closed the door. They stayed there for hours. Eventually, Kelsie came out with a big smile on her face and said Zach would be attending our youth support group that night. We gave Zach the meal we had been saving for him.
At the Center, Zach found much more than a safe place to hang out. He found a home and a family. Day by day, month by month, over the course of a year, staff built a relationship and his attitude toward life changed. He went from struggling to survive on the street to being stably housed. Through our support groups and events, Zach's mental health began to improve, and he found inspiration for future possibilities. He started to think about not just getting by, but a career -- a dream job. He started thinking about his future and his aspirations.
Zach found his "chi" at the Center. He's remains a part of our day-to-day lives even as we share this story. He's even explored new hobbies. He's an avid bike rider, runner, and loves exploring mindfulness and meditation in his free time. Inspired by the support of the Center, Zach volunteered to join our 2018 team as a rider for the NorCal AIDS Cycle. He and a group of staff, volunteers, and supporters spent days training for this four-day ride across Northern California, raising funds and educating the public on issues surrounding HIV and AIDS. At the Sacramento LGBT Community Center, Zach found much more than a facility.
From just barely surviving each day on the street, toward believing in a brighter future, and even giving back to his community, Zach's story exemplifies our mission to create a region where LGBTQ+ people are not only safe and welcome, but able to thrive together.
- 200 people received HIV/HCV tests and more than 75,000 condoms, dental dams, lube, and other barriers were distributed.
- 5,200 community resource referrals provided, including medical, mental health, employment, housing, public benefits, and professional services.
- 622 unique adults and 336 youth received mental health respite to take a break from the stress of their daily lives in a safe and affirming space.
- 600 adult and 462 youth visitors attended group meetings per month, including social, peer support, and addiction recovery.
In addition to the Center's direct service programs for the most marginalized in our community, we produce and partner in a number of community engagement, social, and educational events and programs throughout the year to increase understanding and build community, especially important with nearly 27% of California teens that identify as gender nonconforming.
Some of these events include:
- Sacramento Pride
- Out at the Fair
- Film Screenings
- Equality Nights with professional sports leagues
- LGBTQ Youth Holiday Parties
- Camp Camp
- 2nd Saturday Art Shows
- Over 15,000 people participate in the 201 Sacramento Pride
- 700 youth ages 13-20 were provided a safe, affirming, drug-free, and authentic prom experience at Q-Prom
- Friendsgiving provided a chance for 60 people from all walks of life to share in a meal on Thanksgiving amongst a chosen family
- Pride and equality nights with Sacramento Kings, Sacramento Republic FC, and Sacramento River Cats
- Film screenings highlight the need for continued work to combat discrimination and hatred
- Youth parties, summer camp, and art events promote a cultural richness in the LGBTQ community
The Center has long been an advocate and convener of activists in the LGBTQ rights movement. Center staff and board members regularly provide support and testimony regarding pending legislation and initiatives that would have a significant impact on the LGBTQ community. We host public forums, listening sessions, rallies, and provide an opportunity for individuals to get involved at the grassroots level. Despite California progress over the last decade, it is going to take a lot longer to have people's hearts and minds catch up to public policy.
The Center continuously hears from people, especially transgender individuals, who are being harassed at work, denied medical care, or have been mistreated by a government agency-all of which are illegal in California. The Sacramento LGBT Community Center stands firmly on the side of equity and justice for all people and continuously advocates on behalf of individuals and marginalized populations. Following the most recent presidential election, LGBTQ people are feeling anxious, unsafe, and uncertain about the future of their daily lives. The Center needs to be an even stronger and more visible advocate and educator in the regional community.
The sidewalk in front of the Center is the spot where dozens of press conferences have taken place when we were fighting Proposition 8, Don't Ask Don't Tell, and when a young man named Satender Singh was killed in 2007 here in Sacramento because he was gay. All around the building and spilling into the street, hundreds of people have gathered for numerous candlelight vigils to mourn the loss of our community members and a lack of equality under the law. Just last year, right around the corner in the heart of Lavender Heights, the Center coordinated a rally the day after the Orlando massacre where over 1,000 people, along with elected officials and religious leaders, came to stand up and speak out against such hatred and violence.
"Following the Pulse massacre, and certainly after the election, I have not felt safe in my own community. I don't know who I can trust with my true self."
Center staff and board members are engaged many regional boards, task forces, and coalitions including:
- California Dialogue On Cancer
- California LGBT Health and Human Services Network
- HIV-Affected Communities Committee
- HIV Health Services Planning Council
- Sacramento Homeless Youth Task Force
- Sacramento Homeless Youth Task Force LGBTQ committee
- Sacramento Unified School District LGBT Task Force
- Suicide Prevention Task Force
- Mental Health Services Community Planning Workgroup
- UC Davis Medical Center LGBTQI Cancer Health Task Force
- U.S. Attorney's Office Hate Crimes Task Force
- Rainbow Chamber of Commerce
- Sacramento Stonewall
- Midtown Business Association
- Impact Foundry
Last year we also engaged with 24 pieces of legislation and policy initiatives to educate the public, online communities, and partnered in more than 20 community engagement events including marches, rallies, and forums