LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville has officially opened the city's first LGBTQ+ community center in 40 years.
On National Coming Out Day, the Louisville Pride Foundation and other community leaders held a ribbon cutting to make a years-long vision a reality.
"Pride is so much fun, it's wonderful, but there is work to be done all year round"Louisville Pride Foundation Board Chair Erin Smith said.
Starting Tuesday, the Louisville Pride Center will be open every Monday through Thursday from Noon-7 p.m. as a safe and affirming gathering space, and one specifically tailored for the LGBTQ+ community to find services.
After a nearly four-month delay to finish floor resurfacing and other aesthetic work, the center is ready to move forward as a major resource hub for individuals, as well as businesses and non-profit organizations.
It’s also designed specifically to direct LGBTQ people to mental health services, including with therapists on site.
According to a release, the Louisville Pride Center began operating on a limited basis in March. Louisville Pride Foundation Executive Director Mike Slaton says while it's now fully operational, the center still needs a few more renovations to be finished.
“It’s extremely accessible now, and it’s extremely helpful to have Mike provide the service for us -- or at least be able to provide that groundwork for everything," said Ellie Bates, a therapist for the group called Transcending Stigma.
After a ribbon cutting and open house Tuesday afternoon, LGBTQ advocates from Louisville and Southern Indiana welcomed activists from Turkey right inside one of the meeting rooms. They discussed ways to sustain advocacy efforts in the city and around the globe, amid social and political opposition.
They also explained the similarities and differences between Turkey and the United States.
"We are fighting and you are fighting against the same argument, that is family values, that we are 'anti-family values,'" one member of the delegation said through a translator. "Our counter-argument is that we are actually supporting families and the argument that blames us for being anti-family is actually the one that's breaking down the families because we have families and by coming together we are trying to establish families."
It’s just one of the many kinds of discussions that'll happen inside the center. The initiative to bring it to fruition started back in Nov. 2020 to better serve the needs of the community.
The foundation is looking for volunteers, committee members, donors, sponsors and other partners. For more information or to donate, click here.