Community centers are the bedrock of the LGBTQ movement, providing safe spaces for LGBTQ people and allies to meet, receive services, organize, learn, volunteer, and give back. The centers in Michigan each provide social programs tailored to the specific needs of their members and users. Some Michigan-based LGBTQ centers have been around for years, while some have just recently opened in an effort to better serve the LGBTQ community and represent it within the larger population.
Here are specifics on some of these essential organizations located within the destination districts of metro Detroit, complete with contact information and a brief outline of their program priorities.
LGBT Detroit, Detroit
Mission: To increase awareness of and support for Detroit’s dynamic LGBT culture through education and advocacy with integrity and pride. LGBT Detroit is focused on youth development, cultural awareness, and emotional and physical well-being.
LGBT Detroit serves the community in their new #SafeBraveSpace by offering support groups for all LGBT identities, providing programs such as:
- Detroit Elder Project
- End AIDS
- Woman 2 Woman
- Breaking the Cycle
- LGBT Detroit Leadership Academy, a social justice training program for young LGBT activists
LGBT Detroit is the sole organizer of Hotter Than July, a multi-day black LGBT pride celebration and social justice rally put together by community-member volunteers since 1996.
Mission: To provide a welcoming space where people of all sexual orientations, cultures, and gender identities and expressions can find support and unconditional acceptance ⏤ and where they can learn, grow, socialize and have fun.
Affirmations is Michigan’s longest-running LGBT community center and is ranked as one of the 10 largest in the country. Affirmations serves the community by offering an array of support and discussion groups including:
- trans and cis gender-specific groups
- Coming Out Over Coffee
- Senior Koffee Klatch
- smart recovery
- Smeared Lipstick for self-identified feminine lesbian women
- transgender life support
- FtM Detroit
- Red Umbrella for individuals involved in the erotic labor industry
- LGBTQ in Uniform
- Unplugged for those shunned, disfellowshipped, or excommunicated from their religion, family, or friends for being LGBTQ
Affirmations also offers a seven-week relationship skills course, counseling services, sexual health testing, and a health-and-wellness network.
Beyond Detroit (BD)
The Grand Rapids Pride Center, Grand Rapids
Mission: To empower the LGBTQ community through supportive services and awareness
The Grand Rapids Pride Center (GRPC) offers support groups for youth, young adults, parents of LGBT individuals, trans and gender non-conforming individuals, parents of trans men and women as well support groups dedicated to serving men, women, and families.
The GRPC organizes the annual Grand Rapids Pride Festival, the second-largest LGBT pride fest in the state.
Jackson Pride Center, Jackson
Mission: To provide a safe meeting space for various LGBT groups in the area to gather and have open dialogue.
Jim Toy Community Center, Ann Arbor
Founded: 1995 (as the Washtenaw Rainbow Action Project)
Mission: To provide information, education, social events, and advocacy by and for the queer and ally community in the Washtenaw County area.
The JTCC offers multiple programs and meeting groups and puts on the OUTFest and Pride Picnic, Washtenaw County’s LGBT Pride event.
The Out Center, Benton Harbor
Mission: To provide LGBT people and their families support and advocacy and to establish respect, understanding, and nondiscrimination of LGBT people in southwest Michigan.
The Out Center offers a variety of services, including LGBT diversity and competency training, free on-site counseling, a drop-in center and offers support groups and meetings.
The Out Center organizes Lake Effect Pride, an annual LGBT pride event focused on making Benton Harbor a fully integrated community in which LGBT people and their families are welcome, respected, valued, understood, and afforded the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else.
OutFront Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo
Mission: To create a just, inclusive, and supportive environment in southwest Michigan for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions.
While the organization changed its name in February 2017 to OutFront Kalamazoo, the center’s belief that youth who know or are questioning their sexual orientation deserve a safe and nurturing environment drives OutFront’s activities. Its aim is to be a “one-stop-shop” for information, support, and fellowship for LGBT and ally members of the greater Kalamazoo community.
OutFront Kalamazoo is the organizer of Kalamazoo Pride, an annual event celebrating LGBT identities.
Perceptions, Tri-City area (Midland, Bay City, Saginaw)
Mission: To provide inclusive education, advocacy, and networking for LGBT individuals, allies, and organizations in the community.
Perceptions is an all-volunteer organization that offers discussion groups addressing the special needs of the LGBT community.
Perceptions annually organizes the Great Lakes Bay Pride Festival, a celebration of LGBT and ally identities, and an opportunity for the community to celebrate pride, freedom, and equality for all.
Polestar LGBT + Center of Traverse City
Mission: To directly address the questions: Where are our people? How do you find out about LGBT+ related activities? If you wanted to find LGBT+ services, where would you go?
Polestar is working to establish itself in the five-county area of Traverse City as a provider of a safe space for LGBT+ people to host meetings, workshops, peer-to-peer support groups, hang out, drink a coffee, throw potluck dinners, watch movies, host books clubs and other social activities.