The ribbon was cut May 31 on the York LGBTQIA+ Resource Center.
The York Center is located at 15 N. Cherry Lane, off of Cherry Lane Park in downtown York City. The center is inside the I.D.E.A.S. Center. I.D.E.A.S. stands for inclusion, diversity, equity, and social change and is a cooperative co-working and resource sharing space for York County organizations with a shared message and mission.
Resources and referral sheets are available during weekday business hours and LGBTQIA+ volunteers are on site every Sunday from 1-5 p.m. and Tuesday from 10 a.m – 2 p.m. to answer questions and offer a listening ear. Other services include workshops on topics like LGBTQIA+ aging and adoption, a lending library and clothing swap, movie nights, and trainings available on or off-site.
The idea for a York LGBTQIA+ Resource Center has been percolating since 2017 when the last venue that specifically served LGBTQIA+ audiences closed according to center director, Carla Christopher-Waid. Waid is also president of York’s answer to Pride, the annual event known as Equality Fest.
“Clearly LGBTQIA+ people and families didn’t go anywhere,” Waid explains. “Thousands of us still attend Equality Fest and Equality Fest Jr, our kid’s Pride. Hundreds of us gather every month at Guerilla Gay Bar. York has an active gay bowling league, a thriving PFLAG chapter, multiple groups that serve youth and young adults.”
What Waid also notes, “We don’t have is a way to easily tap into those resources if you don’t know where to find them. Welcoming faith communities or informed medical care providers are important for quality of life. A safe space for small groups to meet makes their work much easier.”
Christopher-Waid hopes the center can address that communication and resource gap and said that the response has been immediate and powerful since their soft opening in April.
“We are not even officially open yet and we have had meetings or trainings with the York City Health Department, Planned Parenthood, Wellspan, Diakon Adoption and Foster Care, and more. There is a real desire for collaboration and understanding and growth in the York County community.”
Although Equality Fest is the sponsoring organization for the York center, its board consists of leaders from groups like Spectrum Young Adult Group, PFLAG York, and several local faith communities.