Q-Spot Creates Safe Space for Sacramento LGBT Youth
By guest blogger Carlos Marquez (Board Member of the Sacramento LGBT Community Center)
The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community has a lot to celebrate in 2015, and the best is yet to come.
The next great American civil rights story of how loving, same-sex couples won the hard-fought freedom to marry is being penned as we speak, following last week’s U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling effectively federalizing same-sex marriage rights. The promise of eradicating new HIV infections once and for all is finally within our reach with the groundbreaking prevention method known as PrEP. And we’re engaged in a national conversation about what it does and does not mean to be transgender.
The signs of progress are so ubiquitous it can be easy to forget that in too many of our communities, LGBT youth continue to be vulnerable, isolated, bullied, and in need of a safe space to call their own. In Sacramento, that safe space is the Q-Spot Drop-In Center (Facebook) at the Sacramento LGBT Community Center.
Some arrive at the Q-Spot to find friends, while others come to find themselves. But virtually all of them come in pursuit of a sense of belonging, connection, and community.
Open seven days a week from 3-6pm, the Q-Spot provides access to a range of activities and services, including games and social time, skill-building exercises and educational programs, referral services, HIV testing, and on-site shower and laundry facilities for homeless youth.
“Ricky” is the pseudonym I’ll attribute to a youth whose life was improved in part due to the affirming environment, support and care he received at the Q-Spot:
Several months ago, Ricky arrived at the Q-Spot Drop-In Center, appearing nervous and unable to slow his speech or sit still. He did not self-identify as gay at the time and mentioned he was just curious about what Q-Spot was all about. That same day, Q-Spot’s program coordinator noticed cutting tracks on his arms and grew concerned about his wellbeing. Worried about scaring him off with any mention of his scars, she continued to focus on calming his anxiety and making him comfortable in the space.
Her attentiveness combined with the introduction of Ricky to other LGBT youth, and the weekly availability of services at the Q-Spot helped strengthen Ricky’s resolve and make him comfortable in his own skin. “As the months have flown by he’s blossomed. He’s come out to all of his peers, both of his parents, and has reported that his grades have improved. He is a very cherished member of our youth program and continues to attend as many days as he can,” said Alysia Angel, Youth Programs Coordinator at the Sacramento LGBT Community Center.
Ricky is just one of many examples of the young lives the Sacramento LGBT Community Center is impacting, and in some cases saving every day. He is joined by 250 other youth like him monthly who rely on the Q-Spot to learn, socialize, and thrive.
So, as we pop the corks in celebration of the many hard fought milestones we’ve achieved this year, remember that our work continues right here in our backyard and consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Sacramento LGBT Community Center. You can make a charitable contribution and learn more about The Center here at www.SacCenter.org.