Pride Week 2012: Brooklyn's LGBT Center Caters To Its Borough's Unique Needs
NY1's Pride Week coverage continues with a look at the development of the Brooklyn Community Pride Center, which serves the last borough to set up such a space for its LGBTQ community. Borough reporter Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
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Every June, Brooklyn holds its own Pride Parade in Park Slope. It is now a 16-year tradition.
"Brooklyn is definitely not only one of the largest LGBT communities in the country but I can say this without question: we have the largest lesbian population on the Eastern seaboard," said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.
Until 2008, Brooklyn was the only borough without an LGBT center. Initially, Markowitz offered space at Borough Hall to start the Brooklyn Community Pride Center.
Today, it still doesn't have a building to call its own but it is making progress. Erin Drinkwater was hired in March as the center's first executive director.
"A lot of Brooklynites and New Yorkers don't even know that we exist, so we are working on our visibility and outreach to neighborhoods across Brooklyn so they know of our services," says Drinkwater.
The group's logo recently changed from showing the Brooklyn Bridge to becoming a more abstract symbol.
The center also moved out of Borough Hall and started renting interim space on Atlantic Avenue in September. With only two rooms, space is limited, so several programs are held at other Brooklyn-based organizations. The goal is to have a full-time center under one roof.
The Brooklyn Community Pride Center is looking to stay in the Downtown Brooklyn area to set up its permanent space because the area is easily accessible by buses and trains.
Drinkwater says money is in place.
"We have commitments from the city for $3 million for a capital campaign that has been promised in the 2014 fiscal budget. Now for us to actually access that money it requires that we reach some organizational benchmarks as well as our own fundraising matches," says Drinkwater.
The group says it will be hiring a program director in August to help expand its programming.
"Our demographics look very different than that of Manhattan or Staten Island or Queens. So we tailor the program to Brooklyn and Brooklynites," says Drinkwater.
"We have our own way of doing things, the Brooklyn way. And I think it'll be, I think, the best in the country," says Markowitz.
The hope is that the dream becomes a reality very soon.