From support groups and community dinners to yoga and Pride celebrations, the Greater Dayton LGBT Center offers a safe haven for people of all identities.
Founded in 1976, the Center is one of the oldest LGBTQ+ organizations in Ohio still in operation today, serving the Dayton community through “advocacy, education, and entertainment.” as they strive to build a community open to all individuals there in the western part of the state.
As one of the few cities in Ohio with a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index, Dayton has been a frontrunner for equality for the LGBTQ+ community. The Buckeye Flame spoke with Randy Phillips of the Greater Dayton LGBT Center to learn more about how this organization has fostered an inclusive community within this trailblazing city.
Tell us a little bit more about the Greater Dayton LGBT Center and its mission.
The Dayton LGBT Center is an organization that strives to work to create equality for the entire LGBTQ+ community, offering support groups and various other activities.
What are some of the accomplishments and events that make you all proud?
We’re the organization that also puts on all the Pride events each year. In addition to that, we have a quarterly dinner program, where we invite the entire community to have a sit-down for a free dinner, so we can support and create community one fork at a time. That way, people can share a meal and interact with one another.
We have a free health clinic that offers free health care. We offer counseling and support groups for folks that suffer from various issues, such as SOAR (Survivors Overcoming Assault and Rape), support for those who are HIV positive, and support for those in our transgender community. We also work on the health side too, and offer a free yoga class each week. We not only support the mind, but the health and body as a whole.
Can you give us a snapshot of what LGBTQ+ life is like in Dayton?
Dayton is a very accepting city. We were the very first city in Ohio to pass an ordinance within our city charter to allow for equality across the board, so you can’t be fired from your job, you can’t be evicted from your home, and those basic rights that are afforded to the LGBT community that are not granted in many other cities across Ohio. Our legislation was actually used as a model for many of the other cities—including Columbus—to pass their own legislation.
How has your organization been doing during the pandemic?
It’s been challenging, but we have continued to reach out to folks. While the Center itself may have been closed for in-person things for a while, we still continued with many online support groups and services all throughout the pandemic so we could reach out to people to meet their needs where they were at. If that meant taking food to them or giving them a gift certificate to go to Kroger—or even going to Kroger for them and taking food to their home—we made sure that that took place. We just tried to meet people where they were at whatever situation they were in.
Talk about the challenges you all have been facing.
As with any organization, we wish we could do more. One of the biggest expanding problems that we’re seeing right now because of the pandemic has been a rise in domestic violence, as well as homelessness. Because of that, it has become a challenge to try to meet a lot of those needs.
Going forward, what are some changes you hope to see in the Dayton area?
We want to broaden our services in general. While we are an LGBT center and will always be, we want to be able to reach out to a broader community so that they know that they’re welcome at our health and wellness clinic and can recognize our LGBT center as a place for everyone, even beyond the LGBT community.
We already have a library in our Center that also houses a historic archive, so with that we want people to be able to come in and learn more and begin to recognize the Center as an educational center as well, which is primarily what a lot of our services are. I believe education is the key to solving a lot of the biases and even hatreds that are cast against the LGBT community. 🔥
- Learn more about the Greater Dayton LGBT Center by visiting their website.
- BRAVO encourages anyone who has experienced anti-LGBTQ violence, including domestic violence, in Ohio to contact them toll free at 866-86-BRAVO or text them at 614-333-1907, or visit their website (live web chat available) at http://www.bravo-ohio.org. To learn more about our statewide advocacy, survivor services, receive trainings, and/or support, contact BRAVO. For help locating an anti-violence program in your area, please visit www.ncavp.org.