The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh recently changed its name to the Pittsburgh Equality Center. “We struggled with the potential for hurt feelings by removing the references to the words ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’, but as the LGBTQIA+ community has evolved and became more visible, we clearly realized that our name and logo needed to be more inclusive of the rich diversity of our community,” says Gary Janchenko, the Chair of the Board of Directors. “We felt the timing was right for the change given the political and activist climates as well as the emerging trend of similar rebranding efforts by centers across the country.”
Vice Chair Theresa Bosco adds, “It is my intention to honor the LGBTQIA+ advocates that got us to the point where we are now, and recognize the struggles and adversity they faced so that we are able to openly celebrate and continue to have a visible and supportive community center here in Pittsburgh”
I asked the board as a whole to comment on these changes, how the community can be involved and more.
QueerPGH: You recently changed your name from the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh to the Pittsburgh Equality Center. Could you explain how and why you decided to change the name?
PEC: In order to remain relevant in a society that quickly changes based on political climate, increased visibility without understanding of LGBTQIA+ individuals, compartmentalizing of the community as well as an increased need for intersectionality and diversity, we decided, after over 30 years of serving the community, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh (GLCC) would change its name and logo to the PGH Equality Center. This move symbolizes the center’s dedication to being a community center that welcomes every individual with the LGBTQIA+ community and helps to promote inclusion and equality for everyone.
QueerPGH: Does this name change reflect any change in the mission of the Center?
PEC: No, The mission of our center remains unchanged. We feel that this name change strengthens the power and impact of our mission statement. The mission of the PGH Equality Center is still to provide gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQIA+) individuals, their families, and supporters in Western Pennsylvania with resources and opportunities to promote visibility, understanding, and equality with the LGBTQIA+ communities and the community at large. The PGH Equality Center will continue to work toward these goals through education, social support, networking, and advocacy.
QueerPGH: What exactly is the Pittsburgh Equality Center?
PEC: The PGH Equality Center is a community safe space for anyone to make use out of. We offer some programming such as: Trans Potlucks, Youth Night, Game Nights, as well as one of the largest LGBTQIA+ focused libraries in the United States. We offer meeting spaces of various sizes, a computer lab, as well as other amenities and can accommodate groups of any size.
QueerPGH: What services do you provide to residents of Pittsburgh?
PEC: The PEC traces its roots to 197,9 when Persad established an information phoneline conceived as a first step in building The GLCC. For more than 25 years The GLCC, a grassroots, all-volunteer nonprofit organization has continued to exist, despite fluctuating community support and minimal resources. Today, the PEC operates in a fifteen-room facility with meeting space, a library, resource center, computer lab, and offices. The PEC provides informational services, including resources, a newsletter, website, online calendar of community events, announcements, and social media. The heart of the PEC’s mission are its programs which consist of Town Halls, a weekly Resource Open House, game nights, Trans-focused potlucks, Friday Night Youth Drop In, and Outrageous Bingo. With our recently expanded board, we are reviewing our strengths and setting plans for our future.
QueerPGH: Who should try to contact you and how can they?
PEC: Anyone in the LGBTQIA+ community, including youth, people of color, and queer families, who are looking for community and inclusion should contact the PEC. We are still located at 201 Grant St. in Pittsburgh. Or you can email us at email@example.com.
QueerPGH: Is there anyway the community can help the Center moving forward?
PEC: The PEC is still an all volunteer group run by a working board and has resource constraints, both human and budgetary, which limit capacity for some services and sustained growth or outreach. One of the Center’s strategic goals is to relocate into a safe, inclusive space to create a supportive environment, which will serve as a community center, library, training site, and meeting space for our visitors as well as for outside groups helping further our mission successfully. With increased programming and services, as well as a new meeting space, the need for fundraising and volunteers to make this plan a reality is ever so important. We would ask for the community’s support in the coming months as we finalize our plans. Support in terms of donations as well as lending a hand at an event or a fundraiser, such as OUTrageous Bingo, are fantastic ways for the community to get involved!