Executive Director, Beatrice Simpkins August 2020
We are engaged in a fight for our very lives – especially the lives of our LGBTQ Black and Latinex Trans woman and men. We are fighting against discrimination in housing, improper and insensitive policing, and a general systemic neglect of Black Trans lives especially and the LGBQ people.
LGBTQ youth and young adults need affordable housing and to be safe when living, working, and moving through society and their communities. And so – we are creating a legal defense and social justice fund and are elevating our social justice work in Newark and throughout Essex County and New Jersey. Also, we are taking the lead on forming an LGBTQ Collective of organizations and allies that are ready to make specific demands for new services, economic opportunities and local and state policy changes related to emergency shelters, policing, and other key resources needed to build a lasting, safe community for us all.
Thank you to the community of people who have welcomed me into this new era of service as the Executive Director of the Newark LGBTQ Community Center. All of you who have supported our efforts to gain justice for Ashley Dean Moore, a Black Trans woman who died on the street outside the Newark YWMCA, have made the system respond and changes in policy are the result of your voices being heard. Ashely’s family repeatedly experienced disrespect from the police while trying to find out what happened to their daughter. Your public outcry and caring response shows that together – we can change things – together we are stronger.
The center needs you more than ever. We need your time, talent, and of course financial support. We have been able to support the center and operate as an all -volunteer organization since opening 7 years ago. To take the center to the next level – it needs to raise a minimum of $200,000 a year. We can pay our volunteers, employ LGBTQ youth, and develop a capital plan so that in three years, the center will be able to have its own building and a prominent service location in Newark.
You can serve by joining our Board of Trustees. We need an attorney, a development person, the girl or guy from around the way, the non-gender conforming youth, we need the entire community and so we welcome building diversity on the board of trustees. This is a great place to serve your community so come and be a board member!
And I always want to hear from you – what do you need from the center? Is there a service you can provide, an event you want to create, do you have a literary or artistic skill that you would like to promote or share? The virtual space we have created due to being unable to do programs and activities at the Center’s physical location is here for you to use. We are ZOOM capable – its been a hard adjustment – but we are adaptable.
Drag Bingo was a great success and so we intend to bring it back in September at least twice a month – I had a great time and think those in attendance would agree. is for you so use it!
The center continues to be focused on these core areas in 2020/21:
- Being a safe space – If there is one thing we know at the Newark LGBTQ Community Center, it is this: safe spaces save lives. And we here in Newark know well the violence that impacts all communities due to resentment, bias, and hatred – especially against the LGBTQ community. It has been a social crisis and civil affliction for decades, and it comes in many shapes. The murder of Sakia Gunn 2003 catalyzed LGBTQ activism and we continue as we must stop the rise of violence and killings impacting the lives of our Trans and non-conforming community members, especially women of color.
- Promoting the arts, film, and literature that tell of the history and modern stories of the colorful and diverse LGBTQ community and wellness through healing arts such as yoga and meditation
- Development of economic opportunity through the center’s growth so that we can be an economic engine driving the building of wealth and economic justice for LGBTQ people
- Support for Trans folks of all ages including ensuring access to quality healthcare, employment, and other services that are equal and inclusive
- Social activities – friendship, social engagement, and just plain having fun improves your emotional, spiritual, and overall health – we will continue having game nights and social events where all are welcomed and special nights for all our special people!
- Educational, thought-provoking discussions and presentations addressing issues of our times, bringing knowledge and civic engagement around complex issues, advocating to support social justice efforts here in Newark, in NJ, and the nation; lending our support to allies and other organizations and people fighting for freedom, equality, and the right to be safe in all of life’s activities -at home, walking down the street, at work, school, in your house of worship, any and everywhere you go.
Let’s do it together – because we can do more together!