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Author Topic: SAVE QUEENS PRIDE HOUSE LGBT CENTER  (Read 3218 times)

Offline pridecenter

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« on: August 01, 2010, 08:10:31 PM »
Queens Pride House, established 13 years ago is facing a fiscal crisis.  Our next campaign meeting is Monday, August 16th at 7pm at the center located at 76-11 37th Avenue, Second Floor.

This article is one of a number of articles written about the crisis:
Queens Pride House tries to stay afloat
by Mark Lord , Chronicle Contributor

 Queens Pride House director, Daniel Castellanos addresses a crowd at Tuesday night’s meeting. PHOTO BY PAULINE PARK
 Queens Pride House, the only community center for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered communities in the borough, is waging a battle to prevent itself from becoming yet another victim of the difficult economy. At an emergency community meeting on Tuesday night, organizers suggested that unless the group’s financial situation improves, and quickly, it may be forced to shut its doors for good next spring.
 Nestled between a laundromat and a mini-market, a couple of flights up from a beauty salon, a billboard outside QPH touts the organization as “Working together against injustice, discrimination and violence in all forms.”
 “We’re a young organization,” said treasurer Charles Ober, “and we have a huge fiscal challenge.”
 QPH opened its first office in Queens Borough Hall in 1997. After years of identifying funding sources and community needs, the organization opened for service in Woodside in 2001.
 “We wanted to be who we are here in our own neighborhood,” said Daniel Castellanos, one of the original founding members and current director of the organization.
 In 2006, the group outgrew its space and joined two other community-minded organizations to create the Diversity Center of Queens at its current location in Jackson Heights.
 QPH provides a variety of health-related programs and services, as well as social and cultural programming, in areas such as substance abuse, immigration, employment, healthcare, legal assistance and youth services. The organization served a total of 4,588 people last year alone.
 Now, QPH is calling upon the community it has assisted for over a decade to come to its rescue.
 “We came out of a grassroots structure,” explained Ober, “and we still run as one.” The group’s estimated annual operating budget is $300,000.
 Originally, all staff members were volunteers.Since the move from Woodside, several individuals have become paid employees.Recently, because of budget issues, five of the organization’s eight paid workers have been laid off.
 Like many other funded organizations, QPH seems to have been caught up in a bureaucratic tug of war.
 “The governor wanted certain things that the legislature refused to pass, so the governor vetoed what the legislature wanted to pass,” said Ober.
 As a result, most of the $83,000 that had been anticipated from the state is, at least temporarily, on hold.
 Inequities in city funding have left the organization wanting, as well.
 In a financial report distributed by Ober at the meeting, statistics indicate that QPH received only $5,000 from Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras’s (D-Corona) office for the current year, placing it in a distant last place for funding among the five boroughs LGBT centers. Its Manhattan counterpart, by comparison, received $225,000 from the City Council.
 Last year, QPH received a total of $12,500 from three council members.
 Compounding the group’s woes is the fact that the two other organizations that had been sharing rent expenses have both gone out of business, according to Pauline Park, president of the board of directors of QPH.
 “We now have the full burden of the rent,” she said.
 If Queens were a city, it would have the ninth largest gay population in the United States. Castellanos said “Our needs cut across many groups. We are an immigrant community; we have many issues of diversity.We don’t want to lose that.”
 In an attempt to overcome the current crisis, the organization is considering sharing its office space with other organizations.An Internet fund-raising campaign is in the works and fundraising committees are being formed.Volunteers have been recruited to replace the laid-off staff members, but more are needed.
 Despite the severity of the situation, the organization’s leaders remain die- hard optimists.
 “I’m thrilled we had over 50 very enthusiastic community members here,” Park said. “I was excited by all the positive energy. By the end of next spring we’ll see if we can keep our doors open.”
 “We will stand based on the grass roots in this room,” said Ober, regarding the standing-room-only crowd.“We expect some of our money to be released by the state.”
 “It is disappointing that we were moving in the direction of a dream.We don’t want to slow down. We want to make that dream a reality,” said Castellanos.
 For further information on Queens Pride House, or to make a donation, visit

Offline pridecenter

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« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2010, 12:37:03 PM »
Dear Queens Pride House supporters & volunteers, Members of the board of directors & staff of Queens Pride House were gratified to see a capacity crowd fill the Diversity Center of Queens on July 27 for an emergency community meeting to discuss the current fiscal crisis facing our LGBT community center.

We are now hoping to turn the overwhelming response to the call for community support expressed on July 27 into action, and so we have scheduled a follow-up meeting for Monday, August 16. At 7 p.m., members of the board of directors of Queens Pride House will have a meeting open to all community members who wish to address the board with questions or suggestions. At 8 p.m., board members will work with community members to organize committees of volunteers to focus on fundraising and other important tasks facing the organization.

If you can join us for this important meeting, please RSVP to John at We hope to see you at Pride House on August 16.

Offline pridecenter

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« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2010, 12:22:08 PM »

August 13, 2010
Gay Community Center in Queens Is at Crossroads
The Queens Pride House might go unnoticed if not for the rainbow flag that sways from one of its windows over 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights. It sits upstairs from an Indian restaurant, a Korean deli, an Italian bakery owned by Colombians and a driving school named Hawaii that is run by a man from Bangladesh — a snapshot of Queens’s ethnic jumble, which the organization has embraced.

Technically, Pride House is a community center for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. But it is in fact much more. Day laborers can be found using its computer lab, and a Nepalese dance troupe rehearses in the same room where H.I.V.-positive mothers and fathers meet once a month.

For lesbian Latinas, it is an analyst’s divan. For teenagers for whom being gay is a closely held secret, it is like the home of a best friend who will cover for them when they sneak out with a lover.

“We’re not just this or just that,” said Pride House’s executive director, Daniel Castellanos. “We’re immigrant, we’re working-class, we’re family, we’re gay. What we have here is a place where a lot of identities intersect and interact.”

Queens Pride has come a long way since its humble beginnings 13 years ago, in a tiny office at Queensborough Hall. Now, unexpected financial troubles are forcing it to confront basic questions: Who will it be able to serve? How much will it be able to offer?

Even its very survival is up in the air. It is already living under austere conditions. Its staff has been decimated — there are three part-time employees left, out of the two full-time and six part-time workers it used to have. It is open five days a week, instead of six, and for 8 hours daily, not its usual 11.

Rent, utilities and other expenses were once split among Queens Pride House and a pair of partner organizations, but those organizations have folded. A private nonprofit that has been one of its most reliable benefactors, the Paul Rapoport Foundation, will close too, after suffering its own share of losses. The state cut its financing by $83,000 for the fiscal year that started April 1 and still owes the group $18,000 in reimbursements. City Council financing dropped this year to roughly $5,000, or one-quarter of last year’s total.

Queens Pride House started the year with a budget of $280,000 but cut it by nearly $100,000 months ago to avert closing. It still faces a $30,000 deficit.

Pride House received no money from one of its founders, Councilman Daniel Dromm, or a former board member, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who are both openly gay.

The two lawmakers said the city’s own fiscal woes resulted in their share of discretionary financing being significantly cut, so they had to be selective. Mr. Van Bramer said his priorities were organizations in his district, which includes the Woodside and Sunnyside sections of Queens. Meanwhile, Mr. Dromm, who represents Jackson Heights, said he contributed to other gay groups whose leaders made personal appeals for help.

“Pride House sent me an application for funding, but they never asked for a meeting,” he explained. “They never communicated to me what was going on.”

At a recent meeting to discuss the organization’s future — attended by Pride House regulars, community organizers and gay men who live in the neighborhood — Rafael Ortiz, a board member, told the standing-room crowd: “If you don’t like what they did to us, speak up in November. But focus your energy now on figuring out how to get through the crisis at hand.”

And so they did, offering idea after idea to keep the place going. Could money be donated through the Pride House’s Web site? What if volunteers filled some of the staffing voids? Why not start a fund-raising committee or rent meeting space to other groups?

“All options are being considered,” Mr. Castellanos said later. “The one thing we know for sure is that we don’t want to go back to being one person in an office.”

For Kevin Wehle, who lives in Flushing, Queens, and Audwin Edwards, who lives in the Parkchester section of the Bronx, that would mean losing the space where the Bear Den, a group of self-described hairy, overweight gay men, gather for some unpretentious socializing. “The gay men of Chelsea are so thin and muscular and clean-shaven,” said Mr. Wehle, 37. “We can be more accepting of our bodies here.”

There are others to whom the Pride House is both living room and refuge. Nancy Nava, 21, and Kenia Reyes, 25, who belong to a support group called Las Buenas Amigas, Spanish for “the good friends,” said they felt at ease talking about their parents’ refusal to accept their homosexuality, their loneliness or occasional thoughts of suicide. To a 61-year-old widow from Ecuador and a 52-year-old single mother from Colombia, it is the only place they openly discuss what it is like to live with H.I.V.

Lisa Sarkisian, who runs a meeting for transgender individuals, said, “You know you can come here as you are and know you won’t be judged.”

Mr. Castellanos recalled when Bolivia held its presidential elections and consular officials mistakenly set up a polling station in the largest of Pride House’s rooms, which the Bear Den had reserved for its annual party.

He was on vacation, he said, but found himself on the phone, dealing with an impasse: the officials said they risked invalidating all ballots if they moved the voting booths to the smaller lounge. The gay men said the lounge did not have enough space to accommodate them.

“They got to compromise and for a while, you had big gay men chatting on one side of the room and Bolivian immigrants voting on the other,” Mr. Castellanos said. “To me, that really represents what we’re about: equality for all.”

Offline pridecenter

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Councilmember Daniel Dromm Letter to the Community on Queens Pride House attached

Offline pridecenter

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« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2010, 11:47:31 AM »

We met with the LGBT delegation of the city council and we expect to report on that meeting soon.

Our fundraising is progressing and we have passed 1/3 of the way to our goal of raising $15,000.  Please donate by going to our website and clicking the donation link.  We need to save the LGBT community center of Queens.

There is a lot of new energy and a number of people are meeting in committee.  A number of new people have volunteering and helping to staff the center.

We are making progress and we always stay positive and push aside any negativeness.  We will overcome with the support of the community.  Those who support us can rest assured that the QPH leadership will take your confidence seriously.  We are working very hard and will not give up.  We ask you to challenge those who are not doing something to help.  We need LGBT led organizations to be their through the good and the tough times.  The most vulnerable among us are always asking us for help.  The fortunate among us should not wait to we lose that and then wish they had supported us.

We are working on a lot of things and we will make annoucements.

Queens Pride House


Visit our sister site Jackson Heights Life