LGBTQ+ Centers Remain Safe Havens as Discrimination Surges
May 2, 2022
Liz Madison
Facade of brick building exterior with triangular pediment and doric columns with LGBTQ+ rainbow pride flag draped outside


Research has shown that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) individuals are 2.5 times more likely to experience mental health hurdles than non-LGBTQ+ individuals due in part to discrimination and social stigma. That is why safe havens for people who identify as LGBTQ+ are more important than ever. And one place inside California’s capital city is now ready to make more room for others.

The Sacramento LGBT Community Center is Sacramento’s oldest non-profit specifically serving the needs of the LGBTQ+ community since 1978. Recently, it welcomed the community for an open house to showcase its new permanent location downtown in the heart of city’s Lavender Heights community. “Our founders had ideas of how we could better help support the LGBTQ+ community when the seeds of this organization were planted more than 40 years ago,” said David Heitstuman, CEO of the Sacramento LGBT Community Center. “Since that time our vision has expanded, and we’ve broadened our purpose with the goal to be more inclusive through a diverse array of programming and support.” The Sacramento LGBT Community Center’s work during the past three years have been especially transformational, in part thanks to investments from the larger community. The center increased access to preventative and mental health support, homeless and at-risk youth programs and services, and workplace cultural humility education. Even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Center continued to stay open, providing food, shelter, clothing and other emergency services to those in need from the LGBTQ+ community. Many of the Center’s programs continued in a virtual environment, as well, including bilingual community resource navigation and sexual health services; counseling and mental health services; and addiction recovery and peer support groups for youth and adults.

Woman with long brown hair stands at a podium in front of a red brick building with doric white columns and a multicolored flag behind her.

Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento CEO Rachael McKinney speaks from the podium during the Sacramento LGBT Center open house on March 26, 2022.

The Sacramento LGBT Community Center’s progress has inspired individuals and organizations alike. So much so, it has motivated a new call to action. “The LGBT Center stands as a beacon of hope for the LGBTQ+ community in Sacramento and beyond. Sutter Health believes deeply in the impact of the Center’s work and values our partnership, having seen the results of our prior investment as the Center has grown and dramatically expanded services,” said Rachael McKinney, CEO of Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, which was recently named an LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader, along with 18 other Sutter facilities. “We are proud to renew our program support with a $500,000 investment to help the Center continue to grow its capacity. We are so confident in the Center’s mission and its leaders’ vision for this project, that we are offering an  invitation to the many other organizations in the community that believe in the Center’s work as much as we do to join us in supporting their fantastic work.” Community members and organizations are invited to contribute to the Center’s fundraising campaign and reach its $6 million goal toward completion. The funding will contribute to expanding access and capacity for additional services supporting mental health, economic justice, employer-based cultural humanity training, as well as senior and youth LGBTQ programs. Sutter Health will match donations dollar for dollar, up to $500,000, to help the Center close the remaining gap. “Improving the health of our communities starts with innovative thinking, diverse voices and inclusive approaches,” said McKinney.

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