Central PA's LGBT News Source

Posted

From social outlets and support groups to a new resource center and campaigns for local queer representatives, there are a variety of services available to help queer individuals and allies flourish freely and find community in York.

Finding community can be quite a challenge in this conservative city, as has been the experience of Tyler Zell, a local transgender man:“When I first moved to York in 2016, I tried making new friends and met roadblocks at every turn.  And when I did meet other queer folk, the age gap was quite significant and we were just at very different places in life. Like every town, I’ve heard a few hateful comments, but I feel the potential for something greater in the people of York. Now that my life has started to settle down, my wife and I both look forward to becoming an active part of the changing and growing community here.”

Diversity Recognized

January kicked off with a strong start for queer recognition at the City of York Human Relations Commission’s Annual Diversity Event. In addition to continuing the celebration of York City’s protection for LGBTQ+ individuals within housing, employment, and accommodations, three local students received the Lewis Atwater Award for championing queer issues in their York area high schools. Amiia Martin of William Penn Senior High, Sabine Harvey of West York High, and Keith White of Central York High have all raised awareness of LGBTQ+ issues and promoted acceptance and diversity within their schools.

Some of these and other local students have grown up with Planned Parenthood’s The Curve. Having been around since 2006, The Curve allows queer youth to be themselves and experience the freedom of knowing they are accepted totally and without reservation.

The Curve seeks to support these youth by creating an empowering environment that meets weekly to educate, facilitate support networks, and advocate. Program topics include sexuality education, life skills, and LGBTQ+ history, and features guest speakers, game nights, and activities to promote health, wellness, and a strong sense of belonging within both LGBTQ+ communities and the world.

Spectrum York Forms

Recognizing that support should continue beyond the formative years of youth, but having no outlet by which to provide such, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York’s Social Justice Committee has sponsored an LGBTQ+ young adult program called Spectrum York.

With the intent of creating a safe place for queer individuals between the ages of 21 and 40, Spectrum York meets twice a month to provide an affirming environment to have open discussions and obtain information on local resources for anyone who identifies along the full spectrum of queerness.

Guerilla Gay Bar

One of York’s most exciting social gatherings is the volunteer-run Guerilla Gay Bar (GGB York). This pop-up LGBTQ+ bar seeks to “make every space in Downtown York a place of our own” by taking over one of the local venues for one Saturday night a month.

With over 1,200 followers on the Facebook page and between 100-200 attendees at each event, GGB’s critical mass methodology makes any space a safe place for queer people to socialize, eat, and drink for a few hours a month while supporting local businesses. With a regular Coffee Edition open to all ages, as well as one-offs such as Ladies Night Out and Trans Night Out, GGB is a great way to find connection and friends in York.

Equality Fest Aug. 4

York’s inclusive answer to Pride, Equality Fest is happening again this year for the sixth year in a row. This day-long, family-friendly community celebration held in Downtown York City celebrates diversity across York County. The festival features inspiring speakers, exciting dance, theater, poetry, spoken word, and performance art, as well as live visual art, strolling performers, a fully interactive children’s area with games, workshops, and activities, retail vendors, informational and organizational displays, and a variety of international foods. This year’s theme is What We Learned at Stonewall and is happening on August 4 at Penn Park. Equality Fest Junior, which is a unique version of Pride focused on queer youth, will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York for the third year on the evening of May 11.

Joining Forces

In response to community voices and requests, Equality Fest is excited to join forces with the IDEAS (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Social Change) Center to form the York LGBTQ+ Resource Center. Located in the Weinstein Realty Building off of Cherry Lane Park in the heart of downtown York, the Resource Center will be opening this Spring with regular office hours, a lending library and gallery, a York LGBTQ+ history project, regular trainings and information sessions open to the community, and fully equipped meeting spaces for outside small groups.

Electoral Politics

One of the most exciting announcements coming out of Fall 2018 was that of local LGBTQ+/Latino activist Lou Rivera’s run for York City Council. As he ramps up his 2019 campaign to be a voice for ALL of York, he will ensure “that the LGBTQ+ Community is represented and is offered the same opportunities and equal protections afforded to everyone else.” He seeks to eradicate discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community and promote representation in the areas of Housing, Economic Development, Leadership positions, and Financial Equity.

While the outside world becomes a darker and scarier place for those that identify as LGBTQ+, York City, through passionate volunteers and exciting programs, is becoming a safer place. We will continue to educate, to advocate for justice and equality, and to facilitate the growth and safety of our queer community.