Big and Exciting Changes for the LGBT Network
Name change and expansion make 2015 a big year
Left to Right: Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Councilman Daniel Dromm, LGBT Network Chief Executive Officer David Kilmnick, PhD, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, Councilman Costa Constantinides and Samuel Field Y representative Jeri Mendelsohn the Q Center press conference, February 3rd.
Huge news for the LGBT community comes to Queens.
The LGBT Network, formerly known as The Long Island GLBT Services Network, kicked off the New Year with two major changes. The first change was a new name, the LGBT Network, which was necessary as the group continues on a path of rapid growth and expansion. The second change – and part of this growth and rapid expansion – comes with the grand announcement of the LGBT Network’s first community center in the borough of Queens, the Q Center, to be located at The Samuel Field YMCA in Little Neck.
The official announcement was first made at a jam packed press conference inside Queens Borough Hall to announce the new Q Center: Queens LGBT Community Center.
Joined by a cadre of reporters and TV news, a bevy of local elected officials came to show their support for the LGBT Network’s plans to establish community centers in their districts including: Queens Borough President Melinda Katz (above), NYC Councilman and Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), and Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst).
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz was proud of the LGBT Network’s record of service and looked forward to the expansion into Queens.
“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,” said Katz. “It is therefore great that the LGBT Network will be opening similar centers here in Queens. Thanks to the 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.”
The LGBT Network has been providing services for over 22 years for the LGBT community on Long Island; and since July 2014, the LGBT Network has been growing strong roots in Queens by providing programs and services to hundreds.
Currently, The Q Center has been working with middle schools to establish gay straight alliance (GSA) clubs while providing education and training for students, parents, and faculty in both middle and senior high schools. The Q Center has also enrolled dozens of Queens families in the NYS Marketplace for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
“Too many LGBT individuals from youth to seniors cope with the overwhelming feeling of isolation every day,” said openly gay NYC City Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) who served as the event’s emcee. “It is 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 especially right here in my home borough of Queens with the opening of the Q Center. Congratulations to the LGBT Network!”
New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said the LGBT Network would take services in Queens to the next level. “While growing up, many LGBT youth in our borough struggle to find a safe haven where they can express themselves and be who they were born to be,” said Van Bramer. “The Q Center will become a safe haven for countless LGBT youth in Queens who are looking for their voices to be heard. Through this safe space, and the additional facilities that will come online within the next three years, LGBT youth will have the ability to share their experiences, thoughts, and ideas and get the support they need to become future leaders of our city.”
With the addition of the Q Center, The LGBT Network, which also includes Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth (LIGALY), The Long Island LGBT Community Center (The Center), and Services and Advocacy for LGBT Elders-Long Island (SAGE-Long Island), will have a service region that includes close to 6 million people and stretches from the Midtown Tunnel to Montauk. The LGBT Network’s reach and population size will become the largest of any LGBT Health and Human Service Organization in New York State and that will help bring much needed resources to the borough of Queens and Long Island to expand and provide new services and programs.
“We’re going to make sure that we’re going to bring more resources back to the borough to serve these families and that is long overdue,” the LGBT Network’s CEO, David Kilmnick said. “Many lives depend on it and we have to do it.”
To announce the arrival into the borough, the LGBT Network will embark on a listening tour in each neighborhood where a center will be located, beginning in March of 2015. Long-term plans are to bring additional LGBT Centers to Astoria/Long Island City, Bayside and the Rockaways within the next three years.
Kilmnick noted that the organization would not hesitate to break down barriers in more conservative areas of Queens, reflecting on a history of outreach and advocacy spanning over two decades. “We will not only be in places where people expect us to be, gayborhoods for example,” he said. “We’re going to be in some of the more conservative areas in addition to the ones that are more welcoming. We’ve had a 22-year history of breaking down barriers in more conservative communities and we will do the same here in Queens.”