Having pride for who you are: County’s first LGBTQ center set to open in San Mateo
Excerpt from Daily Journal
May 10, 2017, 05:00 AM By Samantha Weigel Daily Journal
A collaborative effort to create a community-oriented hub of information and compassion is opening its doors as the first San Mateo County Pride Center welcomes LGBTQ+ people of all ages.
Located in San Mateo, the new center is considered one of the most innovative in California as five nonprofits and the county’s Health System are taking an interdisciplinary approach to offer a range of services uniquely tailored to the LGBTQ community and its allies.
The facility is part of the county’s PRIDE Initiative, which aims to foster an inclusive environment for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and two-spirit.
Whether it’s a youth-led Queer Prom, lectures by medical professionals about the process of transitioning, counseling sessions or just a welcoming place to relax with friends, the Pride Center is expected to grow alongside the community’s needs, said Dr. Jei Africa, director of the county Health System’s Office of Diversity and Equity.
While there are existing community centers, as well as clinics that cater to those who identify as LGBTQ, having the various organizations come together to offer it all under one roof was part of what enabled the center to receive funding through the California Mental Health Services Act, he said.
“It’s a resource center and has clinical services all in one place, plus the collaborative nature of how these services are put together was considered innovative,” said Africa, who identifies as a transgender man. “We need a space where people can come together and be a community, and we are in a county that values diversity and equity.”
San Mateo County has historically been progressive on these types of social justice issues, having in 2014 formed an LGBTQ Commission, the first of its kind in California that doesn’t fall under the umbrella of other human services.