Nearly all of my close friends are straight, so I never really felt like I had a “queer posse” until I started volunteering at the Center.
Spending so much time at the Center has helped counterbalance internalized homophobia from growing up and existing in such a heteronormative world. It has opened me up so much as a person and also made me so much more comfortable with my queerness, and by extension, with myself.
It all began the day after the 2016 presidential election. I said on social media that anyone who was freaking out could DM me. I got a lot of messages and started corresponding with people. But I felt like I wanted to be able to do something on a larger scale. So I went with some friends to the Center’s next available volunteer orientation and became involved.
Being a volunteer has literally changed my life and facilitating the weekly Women’s Coming Out workshop at The Village at Ed Gould Plaza has provided so many memorable and meaningful moments.
There have been a number of times when a woman, attending for the first time, just seems so scared or sad at the start of the evening. Then, just an hour-and-a-half later, she’s smiling and laughing and saying that she’s so glad she came and feels so much better than when she walked in the door. Not to be a huge cheeseball, but that is the very best feeling.
Doing the workshop prompted me to start a coming out podcast with a facilitator friend of mine called Coming Out with Lauren & Nicole. It all resulted from me wanting to be able to refer the women in the Coming Out workshop to an outside resource that they could look to during the other six days of the week. We’ve heard from folks all over the world in the past year-and-a-half sharing with us how it has helped them in their coming out journey and, in some cases, saved them.
Hometown: New York City
Year Started at Center: 2017
Volunteer Position: Facilitator of Women’s Coming Out workshop