Pride Community Services Organization – Pcso

Statement on Racist Police Brutality, Violence, and Murder Lexington Kentucky

Pride Community Services Organization (PCSO) of Lexington, Kentucky, which includes the Lexington Pride Festival, is saddened and sickened by the continued murders and inLexington Kentucky justices inflicted by the police upon Black, brown, and indigenous individuals and communities.At the core of our organization, we seek to create safe and inclusive spaces where all LGBTQ+ people are celebrated and supported, especially our Black, brown, and indigenous siblings. We cannot let these injustices pass by without condemning the way that the murders of Breonna Taylor (Louisville, Kentucky), George Floyd (Minneapolis, Minnesota), and Tony McDade (Tallahassee, Florida) are effects of police violence and structural inequalities like white supremacy.

The month of June is Pride month which celebrates LGBTQ+ people. This year marks the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City. The riots consisted of several nights of street protests, property destruction, and occupation and is often marked as one of the events that kicked off the Gay Liberation Movement. Most importantly, Black and brown drag queens, gayand lesbian folx, and trans and gender non-conforming folx were at the center of the Stonewall riots. They were fighting back against the same police violence that continues to harm, silence, and threaten the survival of Black and brown people to this day. Quite simply, police violence and incarceration is an LGBTQ+ issue that disproportionately affects LGBTQ+ people of color.

The PCSO hopes that this month in particular you take pride in the actions you make – in Lexington Kentucky whatever way you are Lexington Kentucky able – towards fighting anti-Blackness, homophobia, transphobia, and white supremacy. We must hold individuals, organizations, and institutions accountable for their actions that perpetuate harm upon communities of color. We support the calls to action that seek to dismantle the systems of oppression (sexism, classism, ableism, nationalism, racism, cisgenderism, ageism, to name a few) to prevent this from happening again. As an organization, we plan to continue to listen to, learn from, and collaborate with communities of color to ensure that we are speaking up and out in ways that are wanted and needed.

We also plan to take direct action in working against racism by financially supportingefforts on the front lines of anti-racism organizing in our community. We have initially made a donation of $250 from our unrestricted operating funds to support The Lexington Bail Fund created by Black organizers at Lexington Housing Justice Collective to support people arrested at direct actions in Lexington. We will also compile a list of other local organizations led by people of color and share it in our email and social media communities to encourage others to donate funds to makechange.

PCSO’s other direct actions will include anti-racism programming and education for our staff, volunteers, board members, and the community. Finally, we will continue to review our organization and programs, policies and procedures, and ways of operating toward eliminating racism and to increasing diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging. We acknowledge that we still have work to do to become an anti-racist organization, that the work needed is not just tied to current events bringing racism to the forefront, and that our actions to this end will be ongoing.

In solidarity,

Pride Communities Services Organization

PCSO Pride Center Goes (Mostly) Virtual in Response to Coronavirus

The PCSO joins with our community in taking the Coronavirus (COVID-19) very seriously. We are doing our best to balance the needs of the LGBQ+ community (social and emotional support, connection, and resources like food) with the realities of preventing the transmission of COVID-19/Coronavirus that is an increased threat to many of the people we serve. Please see the following link for  more about what LGBTQ people need to know about the coronavirus. https://cancer-network.org/coronavirus-2019-what-lgbtq-people-need-to-know/.

In the interest of keeping our community, volunteers, and staff safe, the PCSO Pride Center will be changing our operating procedures for the coming weeks. Starting on 03/14/2020, the PCSO Pride Center will be closed to the public for drop-in visits. You can still reach us during our regular operating hours, Tuesday through Friday from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm and Saturday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. If you need help finding resources, have questions about what’s happening in the community, or if you just need to talk to someone you can call us at 859-253-3233, email us at [email protected], or message us on Facebook. If we’re not immediately available we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

We will continue to run our food pantry during this time. Food boxes will be available on Wednesdays. People who would like to pick up a food box, should call or email with a request. Food will be pre-packed and delivered by staff and volunteers to the door or car. We will be requiring all volunteers that work with the food to sanitize their hands before handling food and after each delivery.

We are also canceling or postponing some groups and events. These include:

LoveABLE Meetings, scheduled for Wednesdays at 5:30 – Canceled through April 7thGSA Meetings, scheduled for Tuesdays at 6:30 – Canceled until April 7thMarch SIP Dinner, scheduled for March 20th at 7:00 pm – CanceledAll About Isms Workshop, scheduled for March 21 at 4:00 pm – Postponed (new date TBD)Transportation to Trans Wellness Summit, scheduled for March 28th – Summit has been postponed (new date TBD)April TransKentucky Meeting, scheduled for April 4 at 7:30 pm – Canceled

At this time other smaller, weekly group meetings including LoveABLE, Heart to Heart, and SciFi and Horror Group will continue as usual. The PCSO Book Club will be meeting virtually this month. For more information join the Facebook Group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2508444702758299/.  

We anticipate reopening the Center on April 7th. However, because the situation with the coronavirus is rapidly changing this date may also change. The schedule for ongoing group meetings may also change. We will update information on social media and our webpage as changes occur. 

The PCSO has supported the LGBTQ+ community in Central and Eastern Kentucky for over 40 years. We know the changes necessary to respond to the coronavirus can be anxiety producing and are interrupting regular routines and schedules. Rest assured, we will be here to serve the community through this challenge. Please reach out to us if you need help during this difficult time or if you are feeling isolated and just need to talk. You can call us at 859-253-3233 or email us at [email protected] and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Take good care of yourselves. Wash your hands. Check on your friends and neighbors. Breathe. Reach out if you need help. We are sending you all so much love. We will get through this together!

A Time Of Focus & Growth: PCSO Selects Carmen Wampler-Collins As First Ever Executive DirectorCarmen Wampler-Collins, PCSO’s first Executive Director (Photo by Evan Wampler-Collins)

Pride Community Services Organization has an amazing history. As the oldest existing LGBTQ+ organization in Kentucky, we have delivered over forty years of commitment, purpose, and education that has made an impact on our community that is hard to quantify. The PCSO exists to create safe and inclusive spaces where every LGBTQ+ Kentuckian is celebrated and supported. On each step of the way and with every decision made we have aimed to further that vision for our community.

Throughout our history, the PCSO has relied on the time, support, and energy of countless volunteers—leaders, individuals, and groups. The PCSO, our community groups, the PCSO Pride Center on Waller Avenue, and the Lexington Pride Festival have grown because volunteers have committed time, energy, and financial support to the cause. What we have been able to accomplish together demonstrates the strength of our community. The PCSO would not exist without the support of so many people over the years. 

It is an exciting time for the PCSO and LGBTQ+ groups throughout the Bluegrass. We believe that a physical Pride Center where our community can come together is more important now than ever before. We believe the Lexington Pride Festival is a vital part of the fabric of our community. We believe that the groups hosted at the PCSO Pride Center and the support offered through the PCSO make our community a better place. On a daily basis people visit the center, find community, food, and safety. 

We count it as a privilege to be a part of this community that is full of amazing LGBTQ+ causes. Since our founding in 1977, numerous LGBTQ+ organizations have grown around us and we are proud that the PCSO has been able to be a part of those stories. We are honored that many LGBTQ+ groups in Lexington use the PCSO Pride Center and take part in the Pride Festival every year. Each group in our community serves a wonderful purpose and together we make the community stronger. As the number of groups that serve the LGBTQ+ community has grown, the PCSO has been committed to partnering with others who have supported our community and we intend to continue building strength in these partnerships.

In order to continue our mission of service to the LGBTQ+ community and to increase the impact of our work, the PCSO Board of Directors has been taking a hard look at our organization’s structure, vision, and leadership. We have been working to specifically define how the PCSO as an organization fits within the larger LGBTQ+ landscape in Central and Eastern Kentucky and beyond. Our mission is focused on improving the lives of people in the LGBTQ+ community in our region and we have come to see that given the complex needs in our community, it is to our best advantage to implement a plan to bring on a full-time leader who can direct and manage the focus of our work to continue meeting our mission.

We are proud and excited to announce that Carmen Wampler-Collins has been promoted to serve as the first ever Executive Director of the Pride Community Services Organization! With her expertise, leadership, and commitment in this full-time position, we are confident that the PCSO will continue to grow as an organization. Carmen’s role as Executive Director will be to develop the physical, fiscal, and structural supports needed to take the PCSO into the next forty years and beyond. Over the coming months, with the support of the PCSO Board of Directors, Carmen will be specifically developing new opportunities for stakeholders to join with the PCSO to support LGBTQ+ people in our region. 

The PCSO Board of Directors is honored that Carmen would dedicate herself to the organization. She has our full support in this new position. There is no one else who understands the PCSO like Carmen. Over the past several years as she has served as Pride Center Coordinator, she has already been shaping and growing the PCSO for the future. We hope that each of you will also join us in congratulating Carmen and find some time to stop by the PCSO Pride Center to visit and congratulate her and find out how you can get more involved with the work of PCSO. 

Cheers to the next forty years and BEYOND!

Response to Kentucky Supreme Court Ruling in Hands On Originals Discrimination CaseThe Lexington Pride t-shirt that Hands On Originals refused to print.

The Pride Community Services Organization (formerly the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization) is disappointed to learn that the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling in favor ofHands On Originals and their discriminatory actions against the LGBTQ+ community. While we disagree with the ruling, it is important to understand that the court’s decision was a narrow one. Lexington Kentucky No ruling was made on the larger civil rights discrimination issues brought forward by the case. Instead, the decision was based on procedure. The Kentucky Supreme Court agreed to dismiss the case based on the fact that the suit was filed on behalf of an organization rather than an individual. No decision was made on whether discrimination occurred or on the validity of LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination ordinances as a whole. Nor was a legal precedent set for businesses to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community.

The Lexington Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, as the entity that filed the case on behalf of the GLSO, is reviewing the decision and will explore what further actions are possible in the coming weeks. We appreciate their support throughout the multiple appeals in the case and stand ready to work with them in whatever way makes the most sense in moving forward.

We recognize that this outcome may be disheartening to those of us in the LGBTQ+ community who continue to deal with discrimination on a daily basis, and who had hoped for a more definitive legal decision. For us, this case is about much more than a t-shirt, and represents the potential for us to be denied access to basic public services because of our core identities. It is a valid concern that the ruling for “Hands on Originals” could add fuel to the fire for those who are looking for justification to discriminate against people in the LGBTQ+ community and misunderstand the limited nature of the decision. The ruling illustrates that, whether it be through this case or other efforts, we still have much work to do in ensuring that LGBTQ+ rights are protected in Kentucky.

The PCSO is dedicated to continuing to fight on this issue and other fronts to ensure that LGBTQ+ Kentuckians are legally protected from discrimination. As we have since 1977, we will continue to provide direct services, programs, support, referrals, education, and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community in Central and Eastern Kentucky. We encourage anyone in the LGBTQ+ community who has concerns about this ruling or the impact it may have for them to reach out to us at the Pride Center at 859-253-3233. We are happy to provide support and resources and a safe space to air your concerns.

The PCSO is deeply grateful for the continued support we have had from the larger community in Lexington and across Kentucky during the seven years this case has been active. You have shown us through your donations, offers to provide printing services, kind words, and moral support that the discriminatory practices of one business owner do not speak for Lexingtonians or Kentuckians as a whole.

For those of you wondering how to help moving forward, here are a few suggestions:

Educate yourself on where candidates stand on issues that impact the LGBTQ+ community and VOTE! Next election day in Kentucky is this coming Tuesday, November 5th.Connect with Center Action Network at lgbtactionlink.org to stay on top of and be involved with issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community.Spend your money at businesses that are LGBTQ+ welcoming and affirming.Volunteer at and donate to nonprofits supporting the LGBTQ+ community.

We hope you will continue to fight with us to create a safe, inclusive Commonwealth where every LGBTQ+ Kentuckian is celebrated and supported.

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