By Gil Diaz
After giving her rousing speech at a 2013 fundraiser attended by some of Hollywood’s LGBTQ trailblazers— Ryan Murphy, Jane Lynch, Dustin Lance Black, among them— Center CEO Lorri L. Jean was introduced to a woman from the packed audience who eventually would play a major role in the Center’s future: Ariadne Getty.
“Lorri was so impressive when she spoke that I knew I had to meet her,” recalled Getty. “We were introduced, we immediately connected, and our friendship has just blossomed from that day forward. Every conversation is a learning experience with Lorri.”
From that evening on, many social gatherings occurred between ally, activist, and philanthropist Ari, and Lorri, leader of the world’s largest LGBT organization, whether it was a cookout at Lorri’s house or a tête-à-tête lunch appointment. These meetings resulted in Ariadne gaining an insider’s look into the needs of the LGBT community’s various age groups—with eye-opening revelations.
“I learned that so many LGBTQ youth experience homelessness after coming out to their family and were left without the education, nutrition—and most importantly—the love they needed to succeed,” said Getty. “As a mother and an ally, I understood the immediate need and worked closely with the Center, as a direct services organization, and provided the resources needed to open The Ariadne Getty Foundation Youth Academy so more LGBTQ youth could receive the care and support they need to lead meaningful, healthy lives.”
The Youth Academy opened its doors in 2019 inside the Youth Center as part of the Center’s flagship Anita May Rosenstein Campus. The academy provides vital programs and services for youth to achieve their full potential: one-on-one mentoring by specially-trained adults; financial assistance to support their goals of completing their GED and attending college or trade school; a computer lab; and more.
“Ariadne Getty is the real deal,” said Jean. “She gives because she sees that there are important needs that must be met, and she wants to help. She gives because her heart is filled with compassion and empathy. She gives because she feels she has a responsibility to make a difference. But, Ari is more than an amazing philanthropist. She is a genuine and loving woman whom I am proud to call my friend.”
Now, with the completion of the 70,000- square-foot Ariadne Getty Foundation Senior Housing located a stone’s throw from the Youth Academy, Ari has elevated her stature as one of the truest allies of the LGBTQ community as well as the intergenerational movement. Sprawled across nearly three-quarters of an acre, the towering five-story Senior Housing boasts 98 units of affordable apartments for seniors ages 62 and above. It also includes a community room, fitness room, laundry facilities, and a lush outdoor courtyard.
“LGBTQ equality would not be where it is today without LGBTQ seniors. Yet, there’s no doubt we have a ways to go—and our LGBTQ youth are a part of the movement to help us get there,” explained Getty.
“Intergenerational programs and services help teach the LGBTQ community where we came from, where we are, and where we need to go in our journey to LGBTQ equality. By creating a campus that houses both LGBTQ youth and seniors, not only are we creating a space that fosters community from young to old, but we are fueling the LGBTQ equality movement. I believe that the intergenerational remarkable is the woman who has had campus at the Center should become a standard practice at centers across the globe.”
Always the self-effacing benefactor, Ari was always an ally and credits her two adult children, August and Nats, for instilling an even greater fervor to further support the LGBTQ community.
“I fully immersed myself by reading all that I could to better understand and support them. I also quickly learned of the critical need to support the LGBTQ community on every level,” said Getty. “Unfortunately, addressing the level of discrimination, mental and physical medical issues, homelessness, addiction, employment discrimination, and acceptance among a myriad of other issues was not as far along as I imagined.”
To address the disparities and inequities experienced by LGBTQ folks, the focus, funding, and activism of The Ariadne Getty Foundation (AGF)— which Getty herself fondly describes as “a living/breathing entity which evolves just like I do, and just as the world does”—has been in steadfast support of the LGBTQ community since the estab- lishment of the AGF. “I am proud of our work over the last decade in advancing LGBTQ equality. The AGF is committed to continuing our work to ensure every LGBTQ person has the opportunity to lead a meaningful and successful life free of barriers because of who they love or how they express their gender,” said Getty. “I hope there is a day when our work is no longer necessary. Until then, you can find me in the arena.”
For generations to come, The Ariadne Getty Foundation’s sparkling solid aluminum signs perched atop the Youth Academy and the Senior Housing undoubtedly will foster and immense sense of pride and empowerment to all who enter their main doors. Just as remarkable is the woman who has had the Center’s back for eight years—and counting.
“Ari,” said Jean, “is a visionary with a heart of gold.”