What’s Happening in SMC’s LGBTQ+ Community?
As a queer person living in San Mateo County, the monthly Pride Initiative meetings are a haven for me to feel connected to local LGBTQ+ community members. Nothing beats being around a table of beautifully unique and bold community members to talk about the numerous efforts we’re working on to strengthen the sense of LGBTQ+ community in San Mateo County.
Founded in 2007, the Pride Initiative is a health equity initiative that was created by the Office of Diversity and Equity in recognition that LGBTQ+ folks are often met with culturally inappropriate care and a lack of knowledge by service providers in health settings. Since 2007, the Pride Initiative has met on a monthly basis to organize community-based events, create trainings for service providers and advocate as a community for more LGBTQ+ services within county and community settings.
One such example is sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data collection that will be rolled out this year across BHRS as well as the whole health system; collecting this data will help reduce health disparities experienced by LGBTQ+ folks by normalizing conversations about these aspects of our identities that have a direct impact on our health. Pride Initiative members participated in not only advocating for this, they also contributed to the curriculum that was created to train BHRS staff on how to appropriately serve LGBTQ+ clients and ask SOGI questions with cultural humility.
Pride initiative knows and embodies the spirit of collaboration! At times, this means working alongside fellow health equity initiatives, such as the Latino Collaborative and Native American Initiative for events like the Rosca de Comunidad y Diversidad. Often, it means working with the growing number of LGBTQ-specific entities in San Mateo County, such as San Mateo County’s LGBTQ commission, San Mateo County Pride Center, the Office of Diversity and Equity and community-based organizations. As partners in collaboration, LGBTQ+ events focused on community wellness and healing such as Transgender Day of Remembrance and a special screening of Outrun have seen many attendees piling into the San Mateo County Pride Center.
In fact, the Pride Initiative was instrumental in the development of a proposal to create the San Mateo County Pride Center, which opened its doors on June 1st, 2017 after years of tireless advocacy on behalf of Pride Initiative members. This is the first LGBTQ+ community center in San Mateo County, and the Pride Center has quickly gained rapport for modeling how to provide mental health services for LGBTQ+ folks as well as providing a hub for LGBTQ+ social events, peer groups and educational series such as Trans Talks.
How can you get involved with the Pride Initiative? The opportunities are endless! Our monthly meetings are open to all community members and take place on the second Wednesday of each month from 3:30-5:00pm at the San Mateo County Pride Center (1021 S. El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA 94402). Here, you’ll hear the latest on events we’re organizing, LGBTQ+ happenings in San Mateo County and you’ll get a chance to build community with LGBTQ+ folks that live, work and play all around the county. We’ve also begun organizing for the San Mateo County Pride Celebration 2018, “Celebrate.Resist.Unite.” that will take place on June 16th, 2018! The Pride Initiative is the group to thank for the first Pride Celebrations in San Mateo County, beginning in 2013 and this event is always a community effort! If you’d like to get in on the ground floor of organizing for this year’s event, you can attend a meeting or contact the Pride Initiative co-chairs Regina Moreno and Dana Johnson to find out ways you can get involved!
Can’t make the meetings? Find us on facebook to keep updated on Pride Initiative happenings and ways you can connect to LGBTQ+ community in San Mateo County!
Written by Annette Pakhchian, LGBTQ+ Community Outreach