Written by Alberto Duron - Gay Central Valley Intern
After doing some research on LGBT community centers around the world, I came across The Birmingham LGBT Centre located in England. I learned that the Birmingham LGBT Centre has a direct focus on the health inequalities of the LGBTQ community, such as: high smoking rates, alcohol and drug misuse, and poorer mental health. It is considered a “one stop shop for community health.” Their center has three stories and provides the community with many services such as: a fitness center with yoga, Pilates, and circuit training classes, counseling and psychotherapy, alcohol support, sexual health services, smoking cessation, and many other services and resources.
Since healthy living is a big concern of the Birmingham LGBT center, they hold events and workshops that bring awareness in order to promote healthy living. One of the ways that they do this is through their project The Rainbow Health Campaign. This project brings awareness to the community by discussing topics such as responsible alcohol consumption, healthy eating, and exercising tips. They have their own fitness center called The Vault, which is the first LGBT fitness studio in the UK. The Vault has yoga classes, table tennis, Pilates, dance classes, and other fitness events. The center also has support groups for the transgender community, gay families, and even individuals who are bisexual. The Birmingham LGBT Centre also participates in several events such as the Trans*/Fest, Bi Fest, and other events that promote health and fitness.
I thought that it was so interesting to learn about this community center in England, because it allowed me to see the similarities between their community center and our LGBT community center here in Fresno. One difference that I noticed is that the center in Birmingham has a huge focus on health, while our Fresno LGBT Community Center serves to provide the community with a large array of services and resources, such as suicide prevention, a designated safe place, a lending library filled with movies and books, as well as many other resources. A huge similarity is that we both want to provide a physical place for the LGBT community to go to in order to feel comfortable, free of judgment, and most importantly safe. If I could provide a service here at the Fresno LGBT Community Center that the Birmingham Centre has, it would definitely have to be the fitness center. However, I think it would be so cool if the Birmingham Centre found out about our library so that they could start one too, because books and movies in and of themselves have so many facts and resources that our community can learn about.
I believe that what is most important is that organizations are forming and coming together in order to provide the LGBT community with a place to feel safe and comfortable. I also believe that by having LGBT community centers around the world the LGBT community will become more accepted in society. If you are interested in learning more about the Birmingham LGBT Centre, visit their website at http://www.blgbt.org/.
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