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The Center Of It All

-Lisa Carcieri

I met up with Alex Gorriaran of RI Pride recently at the new GLBT Community Center. He gave me a tour of the ins and outs of the building, located on 132 George M. Cohan Boulevard in Providence's Fox Point. It's the first of its kind in Rhode Island, and a comfortable new space for the GLBT community.

The center recently moved into the India Point Place (IPP) building, which provides homes (office space, that is) for the GLBT community as well as other diverse organizations. SAGE/RI, the GLBT Helpline, Men of Phoenix, and AIDS Quilt RI have already hung their welcome signs at IPP.

The center, I was told during my visit with Gorriaran, is run and managed by RI Pride. I had heard and read that the planners of the Pride Parade were at the helm of the center, but I didn't know why. Gorriaran enlightened me. Evidently gay community centers around the country, namely San Diego, Los Angeles and Colorado, are run by their local Pride organizations. In fact, RI Pride has gotten a lot of suggestions about how - and how not - to run a GLBT community center from these fellow organizations.

Like Gorriaran said, RI Pride has the mechanisms in place to get the word out about the community center. For one, they have a great interactive web site. They also have a well-maintained mailing list and a newsletter that is distributed to community members and businesses several times a year. But most importantly, RI Pride has a group of dedicated volunteers. These folks spearhead the Pride parades every year that go off without a hitch. So, who better than RI Pride to pull our center together?

RI Pride has signed a two-year contract with IPP to manage the center. They have an office located on the first floor of the building (though they still have their old office on Seymour Street in Providence too).

With the grand opening just a few short months ago, the center is readily equipped to serve the community. On the first floor there is a great cafe and a comfortable seating area, a resource library, (which, by the way, needs donations), an art gallery, and a computer with Internet access that's available free of charge. Oh yeah, the center will also have a small store that community members can purchase GLBT paraphernalia (there aren't a lot of places around to buy GLBT-themed stuff... but now there is!).

The RI Pride committee, which has about 40 members, has a plethora of services at the center that we can take advantage of. Gorriaran talked about a Speaker Series that will be held free of charge, as well as a Business After Hours event that will give individuals an opportunity to network with area professionals and businesses. RI Pride will also oversee the scheduling of meetings and events to be held at the center. I recently attended a GLBT meeting that was held in a church basement. Believe me, the center is a much more appropriate and comfortable atmosphere.

Being a member of the GLBT community, I am excited about the resources that the center provides. I'm also grateful that there is a safe, familiar place that I can hang out and meet other diverse individuals.

Another thing I found out during my visit with Gorriaran is that RI Pride handles more than the June parades and the community center. "RI Pride 365: Experience it all Year," is their new motto and commitment to creating visibility throughout the year. With that said, RI Pride has these planned soirees in March.

On Sunday, March 14 at 2pm, the Fourth Annual Goddess Show - A Celebration of Women in Music, with a special art exhibition, will be held at the Hi-Hat at Davol Square. Local women artists, both in music and in art, will showcase their talents. Tickets are $10 in advance (you can purchase tix at the center) and $15 at the door.P Pride Flicks at the Castle Cinema is showing Luster, a "raw, tender, and darkly comic look at young punks in love." Sounds good to me! The film will be shown on Friday, March 26 at 7pm.

These events are just a snippet of what the center is going to offer, which is open Monday-Wednesday and Friday from 10am-7pm, Thursday 12pm-7pm, and Saturday 12pm-5pm.P What can you do to get involved with RI Pride 365 or the center? According to Gorriaran, volunteers and donations are needed to bring these dynamic events to our community. For more information, visit www.prideri.com, e-mail [email protected], or call 467-2130.

So while you're waiting for spring and need something to do on a cold, rainy March night... head on over to the center.

From Providence Monthly

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