The Los Angeles LGBT Center has been part of Dakota Sands’ life for more than 40 years. In the late 1970s, Sands was an LGBT activist and contributor to Lesbian Tide, the nation’s first lesbian newspaper which was led by fellow lesbian activist Jeanne Cordova. During those early days of LGBT activism in Los Angeles, she eventually met Don Kilhefner and Morris Kight, two of the Center’s founders, and started working at the organization.
“Socially and politically, the LGBT scene in Los Angeles was hopping back then!” said the now 72-year-old Sands. “It was an exciting time because there were no other LGBT centers anywhere in the country, and here I was happily working at the Center, answering phones and directing clients to all of the possibilities the Center offered: jobs, activities, services.”
Similar to today, activism and advocacy for LGBT equality were core tenets of the Center’s work.
“We organized marches at Barney’s Beanery for displaying a ‘fagots stay out’ sign, and boycotts against Florida Orange Juice because of spokeswoman Anita Bryant’s anti-LGBT rhetoric,” recalled Sands, now a resident of the Fairfax Village Grove neighborhood in Los Angeles. “We didn’t want to be invisible, closeted, voiceless. We chanted and picketed so that we could have pride to this day.”
As LGBT visibility began to rise, Sands earned a Master of Social Work and looked for new ways to care for the community. She became licensed as a clinical social worker and set up her own low-cost psychotherapy private practice. Many of her clients were referred to her by the Center.
And after 30 years working in the mental health field, Sands retired. Soon thereafter, she decided to give back to the Center by joining its Circle of Life after reflecting on her life’s accomplishments and the momentous events that shaped her identity. By including the Center in their estate plans or by making another type of planned gift, Circle of Life donors help ensure that the organization will be here in the future to help the most vulnerable members of the LGBT community.
“The Center is the heart and soul of our community. Its programs and services positively change people’s lives every day,” said Sands. “By financially supporting the Center, I am contributing to our legacy, our history, our future. I am so proud that the Center is a place we can call our own; a place where we can feel accepted, respected, and safe!”