Only once before have so many new members joined the LGBT Center of Raleigh’s Board, and that was when the Center itself was founded in 2009. This is exciting, and we can’t wait to see how their influence will guide the Center in coming years.
We want to introduce you to these new Community leaders.
Taari Coleman (she, her) is a writer, creator, teacher, truth seeker, conspiracy theory entertainer, problem solver, storyteller, rabbit-hole investigator, photographer, daughter, sister, lover, thinker, over achiever, daydreamer, glass-half-fuller, with a terrible habit of over analysis. Taari earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s of Fine Art degrees from North Carolina State University and is embarking on writing and directing film, specifically those that highlight underrepresented / marginalized groups.
She says, “I’m a very community-oriented individual, and I believe that community is comprised of more than just where a person physically finds themselves. Community is something that is intentional and purposeful, and I intend to assist the Center in strengthening both the intentions and purpose of the LGBTQ+ community, especially in through its role as an actively anti-racist, safe space.”
Erica Porter (she, her) comes to the Board with lots of experience in guiding other successful community organizations in Raleigh. At VAE Raleigh (formerly known as the “Visual Arts Exchange”), she has help amplify the work of local artists for 12 years – inspiring them to create the highly successful “Queer Home” exhibit in the winter of 2019 among other projects that show the talent of local artists. She knows how to organize large community events. Erica now serves as VAE Raleigh's Board Chair.
Erica has always been a close ally of the LGBTQ community in Raleigh, but she prefers to think of herself as “just being a good neighbor to my many LGBTQ friends.” She says that her Community friends have enriched her life exponentially and she wants to support them.
In March of 2018, Erica was appointed to the Wake County Board of Elections, putting her on the front line of our local democracy. She tirelessly oversees the BOE staff in managing the huge demand for new Voter Registrations and Absentee Ballots – examining many of them herself. She is a fierce advocate of the democratic process.
Her dream for the LGBT Center of Raleigh is to expand the reach of the Center to people of color. “I would love for our Center to be as diverse as our whole community,” she says. She wants to raise awareness of the Center’s programs and services in local neighborhoods that haven’t noticed the Center before now.
We look forward to working with her in that effort – especially after the November 3rd election.
Katrina Tobin (she, her) devotes much of her life to caring for others, focusing in recent years on harm reduction, houselessness, anti-racist work, and issues of abuse and assault. She also wants to preserve the unique cultural heritage of our Community.
She says, “The Raleigh LGBT Center is already taking a strong stand in some of those issues, through its recent support of the BLM movement this summer, it’s focus on free HIV testing, it’s work with the elder LGBTQ community, and it’s welcoming support of houseless LGBT community members at the Center.” She continues, “reaching out to all our members, particularly those who are marginalized through skin color, age, houselessness, poverty, mental illness, and other complex factors, is one of my driving priorities.”
Professionally, Katrina provides assistance in hospice care – a truly blessed and compassionate effort for those who need help the most.
Kaye Vassey’s (she, her) first exposure to the Center was at an early Trans~Giving feast – held at the Center on Thanksgiving Day. She remembers feeling overwhelmed to see so many people like her come together to celebrate a holiday that had often been quite lonely. The whole community – not just Trans people – came together to support each other. From that moment on, Kaye has been a part of the Transgender Initiative.
Kaye is a talented creative artist who works at Epic Games in Cary. She brings that creativity to the Board – seeking to find new ways of getting the Center’s programs and services out to our Community.
“I’d like to see a program at the Center that can engage 30- to 50-something people who are living professional lives and may have children and families,” she says. “We aren’t serving that group of Community members well right now. Those folks have already dealt with coming-out issues, housing issues, gender-assignment changes, and are comfortable being who they are. And we haven’t had to start dealing with the issues that our SAGE people deal with every day. We need something for us,” she says.
Another of Kaye’s goals is to help facilitate new Employee Resource Groups for employers who welcome and support their LGBTQ staff in their workplace. She helped organized the one at Epic Games and would love to show others how they can do that for their companies. There is already a new category for Employer Resource Groups on the Center website’s Community Resources page.
She would also like to expand the reach that the Transgender Initiative has in our Community. “We can help the community at large become more comfortable with our presence in their lives,” she says. The Trans Community is not going away.
Kaye says, “I believe in the LGBT Center of Raleigh and it’s legacy in our community. Being a transgender woman, I hope to bring my unique voice and experience to the Center and help continue its mission.”
With the addition of these four new Board members, our Board is now more diverse than ever! Please seek them out in our Community!
Monthly Board meetings are open to all who are interested in our Community. To get a link to the Zoom meeting, send an email message to Executive Director Lindsey Lughes (llughes@lgbtCenterOfRaleigh.com) or Board Chair Randy Lewis (rlewis@lgbtCenterOfRaleigh.com). All policy making and governance portions of meetings are open except for the discussion of personnel matters. In addition, you can view the approved minutes of previous meetings. Come and watch as they serve, empower, and advocate for the well-being of our diverse LGBTQ+ communities.
by LaKrisha Mauldin
August 27, 2020
We walked into United Skates of America in Raleigh one Sunday morning, not knowing exactly what to expect. When my son came out as transgender, there did not seem to be a place for him in sports. Since his gender identity did not match the gender marker on his birth certificate, simply registering for a youth sport became impossible. But, roller derby was supposed to be different, more inclusive.
History of Roller Derby
Roller derby began as a thrilling depression era escape. Since its inception, roller derby has been a more inclusive sport than most.
by Tonya J. Williams
July 27, 2020
Living with mental illness is not easy. There is stigma, judgment, and misunderstanding. There is also a struggle to obtain the best evidence-based treatment from a qualified clinician.
Many illnesses are managed by medication and perhaps some form of talk therapy. I have found that a holistic approach is the most effective way to manage my illness.
Holistic health generally consists of five pillars - the mental, physical, emotional, social, and spiritual. By engaging in activity that addresses all five pillars, I have been able to stay in recovery.
by Tonya J. Williams
July 21, 2020
LGBT Center of Raleigh Statement: Tonya J. Williams returns to the Center Blog to give some insight on ways she has coped with depression, and we hope you find them helpful. As always additional resources on mental health can be found on our website, and we advise you to follow guidelines of your mental health care professional.
Many people who suffer from depression take medication as their treatment regimen at some point. However, there are many other ways to manage depression.
Number one: it is important to stay connected to family and friends. The crucial issue here is being connected to people who make you feel safe and supported. You can attend a movie, concert, play or other outing with them. You can meet them for lunch, coffee, or lemonade. In person meetings are important as they require you to get up and groom yourself.
by Tonya J. Williams & Shoshanna Carroll
July 17, 2020
“Conversion therapy” also called “reparative therapy” or “sexual orientation change effort” has been used on many queer youth, with estimates showing upwards of 20,000 minors may be subjected to the practice by non-affirming family. According to OutLife based in the United Kingdom, conversion therapy can run the gamut:
Conversion therapy, or so-called “gay-cure therapy” is any form of talk therapy or similar activity that seeks to remove a person’s feelings of same-sex attraction or change their gender identity. Attempts may also be made to force an attraction to the opposite sex, or identification with recorded birth sex.
The word “therapy” can be misleading, as there is no scientific basis for conversion therapy. Practices often vary wildly and are not regulated. In other words: it’s not medically certified, and you don’t know what you’re getting.
This type of therapy results in those who are submitted to it becoming depressed, experiencing more anxiety, becoming suicidal, and being more likely to use drugs. In short, the therapy is not only scientifically discredited, it causes more mental health issues and pain for queer youth and adults. It is an abusive practice and should be banned in all its forms.