Meet the future with the Coalition at STARDUST RHAPSODY; our 2023 GAYLA!

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

March 14, 2023

2023 Gayla: STARDUST RHAPSODY May 13th 2023

Join us Saturday, May 13, 2023 at the Imperial Blue Ballroom and Imperial Terrace for a celebration of Queer identity and community, and how far we’ve come as a collective force in Lancaster! 

This year’s theme is STARDUST RHAPSODY. Come dressed in your galactic best! Calling all dashing space rogues and laser sword lesbians; this year’s outfit concept/motif is GLAM GALACTIC! Keep an eye on our Insta for outfit and theme inspiration leading up to the event! Michelle Johnsen will be on-site assisting with photography all night long. Our featured DJ will be MAJOR VIBES.

Awards Ceremony ticket holders will join our Galactic MC Chi Chi Mizrahi at 6PM on a journey through the stars, honoring changemakers in the Lancaster community. At 7PM, dinner will be provided (and we will reach out to ticket holders to receive your meal choice). We’ll open the evening with an awards ceremony honoring local community trailblazers, then feast and sip on the night’s signature cocktail; DIMENSIONAL SPACE DISTURBANCE. Explore new nebulas at our dance party, where we’ll inspire the future of Queer community and found family! After 10:30PM, everyone’s invited to our cosmic jamboree in The Imperial restaurant, featuring a live mix by DJ Stygian!

Get your tickets now!

Masks are highly recommended for this in-person event.

PHOTOSENSITIVITY NOTICE: While the awards ceremony will not feature flashing lights, the dance party may include flashing lights. If you have photosensitive conditions, please keep this in mind.

COVID-19 POLICY: Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition values every life in our community and desires to continue to protect the lives of those who are immune-compromised or otherwise at high risk for COVID-19. 

  1. We are asking all attendees to show proof of vaccination or negative Covid test from within 72 hours before the event
  2. Please wear masks indoors unless you are actively eating or drinking

We look forward to seeing and celebrating with you!

Lancaster’s GAYLA to Celebrate Community Changemakers is Back!

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

March 13, 2023

2023 Gayla: STARDUST RHAPSODY May 13th 2023

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition will celebrate Queer identity, found family, and the progress we’ve made at our 2nd GAYLA at the Holiday Inn Lancaster on the evening of Saturday, May 13th.

Our theme this year is STARDUST RHAPSODY. Attendees are encouraged to come dressed in their celestial best starting at 6:00 pm. Michelle Johnsen will be on-site assisting with photography, MAJOR VIBES will provide the tunes, and an exclusive signature cocktail and mocktail will be available all night long. Awards ceremony ticket holders will join our Galactic MC Chi Chi Lazaro once again as we honor changemakers in the Lancaster community.

At 10:30 pm, everyone is invited to our cosmic jamboree at The Imperial!

Tickets are available for purchase here.

Proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be mandatory for this in-person event. Masks are highly encouraged, especially ones that are on-theme! 

Urban Rural Action to select 28 volunteers to prevent ‘targeted violence’

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

January 9, 2023

LGBTQIA+ knuckle tats

Residents of Adams, Dauphin, Franklin, and York counties all are involved in the community push

Twenty-eight residents of south-central Pennsylvania will serve as Pennsylvania Uniters in a federally-funded program to address targeted violence.

Under the auspices of nationally-based Urban Rural Action (URA), Uniting to Prevent Targeted Violence in South-Central Pennsylvania begins Feb. 18, in Gettysburg, its founder and executive director Joseph Bubman, told the Capital-Star. 

He was identified by Time magazine in 2020 as one of 27 People Bridging Divides Across America.  Adams, Dauphin, Franklin, and York counties are slated for involvement in the initiative. 

Bubman has been involved with community organizing efforts in Franklin County since 2018. The organizing teams include Adams County coordinators Kierstan Belle and Chad Collie, Dauphin County coordinator Logan Grubb, Franklin County coordinator Michele Jansen, and York County coordinator Erec Smith. 

Funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships under its Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention mission, each county will have $10,000 in program funds to support their efforts, drawn from a two-year project budget of $770,000, according to Bubman. 

The DHS program “works to help prevent incidents of domestic violent extremism, as well as to bolster efforts to counter online radicalization and mobilization to violence,” according to URA’s website.

The grassroots effort “brings together Americans across divides to tackle our country’s most urgent challenges, one of which is targeted violence,” Bubman said. 

“Our goal here in Pennsylvania is to form ideologically, racially, generationally, and geographically diverse cohorts that we bring together repeatedly over many months to build relationships, strengthen collaboration skills, explore different views on issues, and work together to address urgent challenges,” Bubman explained.

Each of the participating counties will have 7-member volunteer teams facilitated by their respective county coordinators. 

Bubman said the group organized the local anti-violence project “because targeted violence is a critical problem that faces our country, and it’s getting worse.” 

Pennsylvania’s effort is one of many URA sponsored activities, each project reflecting what local organizers define as important.

“For example, we’ve focused on public health in New Mexico, and consensus-building for incarceration reduction in other states,” Bubman said.

“We think that there are many interrelated social, economic, and political dynamics that contribute to violent actions against others. We will help the Uniters analyze those causes in a systematic way as part of this program, and then help them design projects with their community partner to address those causes,” Bubman continued.

In response to the question: What about the issue of targeted violence interests you? one applicant wrote: “My sister is a member of the LGBTQ community and has been the victim of physical violence and intimidation because of her sexuality. Her experiences have helped form my sense of social justice and the need for communities that support each other. I have always believed that we achieve more when we raise each other up than when we tear each down. A simplistic view, I know, and certainly not profound, but there is truth in it. History is full of tragedies created by the act of ‘othering’ marginalized groups in attempts to gain power and control.”

There comes a point when that narrative has to change, and it’s this type of work that brings that change. Targeted violence against others “degrades our society” Bubman said.

Although it’s not involved in the project, Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition recently received a $25,000 grant from Pennsylvania’s Security Fund Grant Program to pay for improvements to“the safety and security of our current housing locations and our health clinic opening in early 2023,” according to Karen Foley, the coalition’s executive director.

“We live in a time of increased targeted violence against LGBTQ+ individuals and families, as well as focused attacks on our basic rights,” Foley said in recent newsletter, noting that “concern for the safety of our staff and volunteers has slowed our progress with initiatives and programming.”

One aspect of the region’s project will involve training in media literacy and how to critically evaluate media reports is part of the effort. 

“Being able to separate out data-based claims from what someone may, for example, think and feel about groups against whom violence may be targeted is part of our training,” Bubman told the Capital-Star. But getting involved is not all policy wonk games. “We change it up with chocolate truffle tasting,” he said chuckling.

Bubman concluded by observing that although homicides in the U.S. go up and down, “there’s been an uptick in targeted violence, a steady incline in the country.” 

By focusing on a specific set of risk factors that lead people to target people because of their group identity, Bubman said,” We can make more progress using volunteers.” 

This article by Frank Pizzoli originally appeared in the Pennsylvania Capital Star and has been syndicated with permission.

Celebrate the Holigays With Us, and Get Your Vax as a Plus!

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

December 16, 2022

Holidays are complex for the LGBTQ+ community. To address the need for community around the holidays, AND offset the increased risk of gaythering, we are partnering with Union Community Care on two COVID booster/flu Vaccination clinics placed intentionally before the Winter holidays before New Years Eve celebrations!

Nurse Practitioner Erica Lehman will be donating her time to run the clinic and Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition will use grant funding from Union Community Care to host “Holigay” parties with performances and DJs.

Clinics will be held on the next two upcoming Wednesdays; December 21 and December 28, from 5PM to 8PM at the Loop, 117 E Chestnut Street, Lancaster PA 17602.

To sign up, please call Union Community Care at (717) 299-6371

“As a trauma therapist I am increasingly concerned about the constant confusion and quite frankly, the insanity of our current culture.

Rules around keeping people safe from COVID or the variants flying around are arbitrary at best and definitely not rooted in protecting vulnerable, marginalized communities.

We want to find ways to be proactive and protect our community members while tending to our other great need: community support.”

K. Foley (she/they), Executive Director

On Searching for Higher Education while Trans

Ellie Cochran

December 16, 2022

I am a mixed-race, disabled, transfemme individual living in the United States.

During my initial college search around 2014, I would sometimes experience an odd, almost physical sensation while touring campuses around the country. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something about the experience felt very alienating. I didn’t feel like I belonged there, and I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere.

As a trans person, it’s very difficult for me to just “be myself” in public. I’ve been systemically harassed by police, accosted by strangers, and denied access to public spaces. I’ve been denied employment, denied the right to self-identify on official documents, and denied the right to live authentically. I’ve been denied the right to be myself, and I’ve been denied the right to be safe.

To exist freely and authentically is not often a privilege that is allowed to a trans prospective student. It can be hard to let one’s guard down far enough to participate in the college experience, to make friends, to build connections, to ask questions. You never know what latent prejudice lies behind a passing remark, and you’re always expected to be a spokesperson for your entire community. It’s exhausting.

This is the aspect of the trans education experience that must be discussed; the college experience is difficult for everybody, but students in minority groups must contend with increased stress levels and environmental diffculties outside of assignments and campus life. Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD, which occur more frequently in trans populations due to our targeted minority status, can present difficulties in executive function. This results in students who may appear to be floundering to the outside observer, but who are in fact trying their best against impossible odds.

In my search for grauduate schools, I’ve found that the same issues persist. Even some of the most inclusive colleges and universities are not always necessarily affirming in their systemic assumptions. When entering information into paperwork, forms, and applications, I am often forced to choose from a limited number of options which do not accurately reflect the reality of my demographics and identity. This can be frustrating and confusing at best, or retraumatizing and dysphoria-inducing at worst.

I am often asked to provide documentation of my identity, which can be difficult to obtain for many trans individuals. The process of obtaining legal documentation of my identity is expensive, and can take years. I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can afford to pursue the process, but many trans prospective students are not. This can be an invisible barrier to entry which is difficult to overcome.

It is my hope that by sharing information about these issues, I can help make these invisible barriers more evident. Access to information and higher education must be equitable, and it is our responsibility as a society to make sure that our students are not being held back by systemic issues which are out of their control. Let’s share our voices and our experiences, and together we can create a more equitable world for all.

This editorial was originally published on the Sintelligent Design weblog.

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition Receives $25k Safety & Security Grant from the State of Pennsylvania

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

December 16, 2022

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition is extremely thankful to the State of Pennsylvania’s PCCD’s Nonprofit Security Fund Grant Program for awarding us a $25,000 grant to improve the safety and security of The Loop, our HEART Program housing locations, and our LGBTQ+ Health Clinic opening in early 2023.

We are a grassroots organization that works to create a safe and welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ people in Lancaster County. We do this by providing education, advocacy, and support to our community and to local businesses and organizations looking to make a positive impact.

“We live in a time of increased targeted violence against LGBTQ+ individuals and families, as well as focused attacks on our basic rights. Our headquarters is located in the heart of Lancaster City. The concern for the safety of our staff and volunteers has slowed our progress with initiatives and programming, but this grant will give us the ability to swiftly implement a person-centered security model that is rooted in working to ensure that all intersections of our community feel welcomed and protected.

We commit to making choices that shift how security is often used in a way that can feel threatening to targeted communities. The biggest failure in that approach is that it is often used to intimidate and justify discrimination.

We will use innovative methods that continue to involve input from our community. And just like equity is a process and not a destination, we will continue to reevaluate our security protocols so that they are not only protective, but inclusive and welcoming to all.”

K. Foley (she/they), Executive Director

Red Lion Area School District Passes Anti-Trans Policy

Ashton Clatterbuck

December 10, 2022

The Red Lion Area School District decided in a meeting yesterday that LGBTQ students are required to use the bathroom that aligns with their sex assigned at birth. This is a devastating blow to queer children in York County. 

The school board held a vote on the matter during their meeting Dec.1. The motion passed 6-2 in opposition to LGBTQ rights. This was done as an “emergency directive”, which allowed it to  bypass deliberation and go directly to a vote. Several LGBTQ advocacy groups condemn this move, concerned that the very nature of the decision violates the Sunshine Act, a law that requires public officials to be transparent about the decisions they make. This comes at the end of a year marked by a steep rise in violence against the LGBTQ community, most notably the night club shooting in Colorado Springs last month that killed five people and injured dozens of others.

Donna Haywood, member of the board, commented after the vote “If it’s six now, then it can turn into more numbers later, and then the numbers just keep rising. If we nip it in the bud now, it doesn’t have to get more than six.” seeming to suggest that, if students are barred from using the bathroom that aligns with their identity, they won’t become trans, as though it were that simple to make queer kids disappear from society.

Advocates for the anti-trans policy claimed it was for the safety of all students. This is a ridiculous claim. As the board members themselves mentioned, there are just 6 students who have requested to use the restroom that matches their gender identity. This makes them the OVERWHELMING minority and, therefore, targets of bullying and harassment. It is the safety of these few students that should be a greater concern for the members of the board, the officials whose job it is to protect students and promote their success. This motion threatens the students’ safety and creates a hostile learning environment.

Kids can be ruthless. 73% of LGBTQ youth suffer with high levels of anxiety and depression, nearly all of which are driven by hostile environments at school, home, and beyond. In fact, according to the Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth support and research organization based in the US, LGBTQ youth who felt high social support from their family reported attempting suicide at less than half the rate of those who felt low or moderate social support.

These anti-LGBTQ school policies only exacerbate the fear of these kids. In schools that have implemented these policies, queer students report higher rates of bullying and harassment. When those in charge of a school system endorse this kind of discrimination, it only empowers other students to discriminate as well.

Red Lion is just the lastest in a string of discriminatory school board decisions sweeping across the nation. In recent months, this issue has come up at Manheim Township School, Conestoga Valley, 

It is so important that LGBTQ youth can have access to safe spaces, that they know they are loved and accepted. In schools that have LGBTQ-supportive policies, such as allowing students to use the restroom that aligns with their gender identity, permitting them to play on the correct sports team, and creating a GSA or other queer club, these schools had remarkable lower rates of attempted suicide among LGBTQ students.

It is unethical and antithetical for a school board to make decisions proven time and time again to harm and endanger students. And yet, that is precisely what the Red Lion Area School district has done.

Ashton Clatterbuck

​Lancaster LGBTQ Coalition Communications Committee

National Spokesperson for The Sunrise Movement

Member of Lancaster Stands Up

Employee of the YMCA of the Roses

Editor of The Rebel Newspaper

LNP Columnist

Dr. Adam Lake on World AIDS Day, and HIV/AIDS Stigma

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

December 7, 2022

In talking with others I often get the sense that many people think of HIV and AIDS as something in the past. Unfortunately, this isn’t true, we have more people living with HIV than ever before, in large part thanks to effective medications, which have become more tolerable, and easier to take than ever before.

We also now have medications that can prevent HIV, which can certainly put minds at ease for people who might be at risk of HIV. World Aids Day is also a time when we remember people who have died from HIV and AIDS. Because of the deep stigma surrounding this disease, sometimes even family members don’t know the people that they love are living with it, or have died from it. In a time when HIV is both so easily treatable and preventable, one of the main barriers is stigma.

So if you’re reading this, the one thing that I want you to do is think about what comes to mind if you imagine somebody love being diagnosed with HIV. Do you want to know where they got it from? What did they do? Do you worry about being close to them again?

Just like any disease, we should be rallying to support those who live with this. As soon as we associate a disease with immorality, we heap stigma on top of stigma. This is no good for anyone. HIV thrives in the dark.

So this World Aids Day, I ask that you be a light in the dark, and leave no place where HIV can hide.