Community Spotlight (12 Articles with 1,335 total views)
Erie Gay News is proud to highlight organizations and resources which serve our region's LGBTQIA+ community.
Ashtabula Pride Inc. was founded in July 2023 by Michael S. Riffe (Mona Lotz drag performer) of Ashtabula, OH, and Rebekah Beeman of Conneaut, OH. Before becoming a nonprofit corporation of its own, Ashtabula Pride was formerly known as Pride Ashtabula County, which was Ashtabula County's pride festival under the LGBTQ+ Coalition of Ashtabula County, Inc. Riffe, along with Bill Daywalt, AJ Petro, and John Werner brought the county's first festival in 2021 which welcomed over 3,000 attendees to the festival. Due to the amount of work and planning involved, the Coalition's board decided it would be best to relinquish the festival's ownership and turn it over to Riffe and Beeman to create a new and self-sustainable organization. The two formed a board of directors and an advisory board and began planning the first annual Drag in the New Year, which will be held Dec 31, 2023, at the Conneaut Human Resource Center in Conneaut, OH. The event will include dinner provided by Wade's Pastabilities, raffles, a cash bar, a DJ with Dancing, and a drag show hosted by Mona Lotz. The festival will be held on the 3rd Saturday in June from 11 am-9 pm on Bridge Street in the historic Ashtabula Harbor with vendors, food, and entertainment. To get tickets for New Year's Eve or to become a part of the festival, see the organization's website www.ashtabulapride.org.
The Erie County HIV Task Force is a collaboration of local organizations and individuals dedicated to educating, supporting, and advocating for people living with HIV/AIDS and preventing the spread of infection in Erie County, Pennsylvania. Formed in 2014 by Laura Beckes and Sylvia Holland at the Erie County Health Department, the group has been bringing together Erie County volunteers to increase the awareness of HIV, its treatment, and prevention for our residents. Groups involved have included Adagio Health, Central Outreach Wellness Center Erie, Community Health Net, Edinboro University, Erie Gay News, Erie VA Medical Center, Greater Erie Alliance for Equality, Guadenzia, LECOM, MidAtlantic AIDS Education Training Center, NWPA Medical Reserve Core, NWPA Pride Alliance, PA Thrive Partnership, SafeNet, TransFamily, UPMC Hamot, and Urban Ministries.
Edinboro Identity was founded over 40 years ago as a safe haven for LGBT+ students and their allies. Though it has undergone several name changes, Identity stands proud as one of the oldest clubs on Edinboro's campus. Today, our primary mission has not changed since the club's founding and has expanded to cover LGBT+ history and create a relaxing environment for our members to be who they are. While our education meetings are crucial, we also enjoy the meetings where we watch movies, play games, and generally bond while doing a fun activity. We have a yearly Halloween party, aptly dubbed 'Halloqueen,' for students to dress how they want without societal judgment and gender norms. This past spring, we collaborated with the GASE club of Penn State Behrend and Mercyhurst's SAGA club for a clothing drive, the efforts of which were donated to Compton's Table in Erie. The officers of Identity are considering putting on a drag show open to everyone in the spring as a fun way to bring flair to campus. While Identity is a club reserved for Edinboro students, we are always open to guest speakers who want to present their knowledge to our members. The best way to get in contact with us is through our Instagram, which is @identityboro. There, we post about LGBT+ recognition days and a great way to see what Identity is doing during the school year.
Compton's Table, with its mission to foster a sustainable and affirming environment, has swiftly become a beacon of hope and community for queer youth and young adults in Erie County. Compton's Table was founded in response to the deeply concerning rates of suicide among queer youth in the United States, spurring founder and queer rights advocate, Dr. Tyler Titus, into action.
The LGBT Funds of the Erie Community Foundation strive to address the challenges that LGBTQ+ individuals in Erie County face every day. With a generous gift in 2014, the Greater Erie Alliance for Equality helped to establish the LGBT Funds of The Erie Community Foundation. Today, the Funds are led by a volunteer advisory board and various committees and aim to provide financial support to nonprofits in the Erie area that address strive to create a positive, thriving environment for LGBTQ+ individuals.
In 2010, several factors led to the creation of the Pride Planning Committee, which would become the NW PA Pride Alliance. Erie Gay Pride Inc, which had been the organizer of the local Pride from 2006 to 2009, reorganized as the Greater Erie Alliance for Equality and changed its focus. With there not being a Pride Fest for 2010, a group of volunteers got together on January 16, 2011, at the Plymouth Tavern to begin planning events for that year.
Trigon, as it was originally called, was founded around 1992 by Dan Ester, a student at Behrend. In 2017, the name was changed to GASE (The Gender and Sexuality Equality Club). The mission remained the same to provide a safe space for exploration and expression of one's gender and sexuality without judgment and to foster a healthy environment on campus for all people of all genders and sexualities.
TransFamily of NW PA was founded in 2012 by Caitlyn Strohmeyer as a support group for transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals in Erie and the surrounding area. Group meetings are held every fourth Saturday at the Crime Victim Center, 125 W 18th St Erie, PA, from 2 - 5 pm.
Bears Do Dinner is a local social group in Erie, PA, that started almost ten years ago, in July 2013. Each month, a restaurant is selected and announced in our Facebook Group "Bears Do Dinner - Erie, PA." https://www.facebook.com/groups/1475863226069226 . Individuals are on their own to join us for dinner. Everyone can enjoy the company of other bears and their friends, as well as the cuisine of that month's restaurant!
Erie Gay News (originally known as Erie Gay Community Newsletter) is celebrating our 30th anniversary in December, 2022! Originally known as Erie Gay Community Newsletter, it was a project from Bridges, an LGBTQ coalition early 90's. After a dance/fundraiser held at the Unitarian-Universalist Congregation of Erie earlier in the year, the organization saw the need for a local LGBTQIA+-focused publication to inform the community about local events and resources, as well as the upcoming 1993 March on Washington. There had been an explosion of local groups in the early 90's.