For more than twenty years the Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center—a non-profit, charitable organization—has sought to serve the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and allied community of southwest Michigan. We started in 1987 with the Lesbian/Gay Resource Line and a simple two-page newsletter. In 1992 we began sponsoring a Youth Group. During the ’80s and ’90s we held GLBT proms and New Year’s Eve dinners and dances as community events and fundraisers. In 1997 we moved into our first office in the CARES building at 629 Pioneer Street, and in 1999 we hired our first staff member, Executive Director Sharon Roepke.
Since then we have developed many new programs designed to reach out to various groups. In 2003 we began to sponsor Trans∙cend, a peer support group for transgender persons, for example, and at one time or another we have provided friendly visitors to isolated LGBT seniors; speakers for area classrooms, churches, and civic organizations; and representatives to cooperate on various projects with groups such as the local chapter of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), the YWCA, Planned Parenthood, Gryphon Place, Senior Services, and many others.
We have sought to inform and entertain members of our community and their allies and to educate the persuadable public of the realities of what it means to be lesbian, or gay, or bisexual, or transgender at this time in this place. We have sponsored film festivals, documentary film series, book discussion groups, events in honor of Pride month and Women’s History month, lectures, readings, and more.
When appropriate we have worked in cooperation with local and state organizations such as the Kalamazoo Alliance for Equality, Michigan Equality, and the Triangle Foundation to support or oppose ballot proposals, or to lobby for particular legislation, or to protest perceived threats to the civil liberties of members of the LGBT community.
For our work over the years the Resource Center has been honored (2005) by the Triangle Foundation with the Catalyst Award, given to recognize an outstanding community center.