Center Stories

/Center Stories
Center Stories2019-08-21T11:59:20-08:00

Stories that define us.

The Center Stories project emerged to capture the voices of this community. This important story collection process allows you to explore the lives of those around you and learn more about their struggles and successes.

Interested in sharing your story?  E-mail Lanz Nalagan  | ☏ (916) 758-8623

In 1987, Clint was 15 years old and lived outside of Elk Grove. He struggled with the questions and uncertainty of any teenager, but also could tell he was different from a lot of his peers.

He was able to find information about the Center and the Youth Programs. He called the Center and spoke to Tim Warford, an important leader in the Center’s history.

They became friends and communicated weekly. Clint eventually felt safe and welcome enough to go to a youth group. He felt awkward but also as if he had finally found a place where he belonged. He no longer felt alone.

Clint attended youth groups for the next three years and will never forget that time spent with other LGBT youth. He believes his experience at the Center has made a livelong impact on him, “I do attribute growing up in the Center as having made me a better, well-rounded, and a more giving individual today.”

Randi was outed in high school by her best friend in the late 1990s. This was such a traumatic experience for her; it sent her into an emotional breakdown, resulting in her being admitted into a mental institution for about three weeks.

When she attempted to go back to school after the incident, she was told by the principal that he thought it best if she never returned. He said it would be better for the other students if she stayed away.

She moved to Sacramento a year later at 18. She quickly found the Center and Sacramento Pride and was grateful to be out of her small town and around people who could relate to her experience.

Over the years, Randi has found the Center to be a place of safety and hope. She has relied on it to get help and provide support.

First, as an attendee at Sacramento Pride where she felt welcomed and accepted for one of the first times in her life. Then, when she fell into addiction, as a participant in the recovery meetings.

Through Randi’s journey with the Center, she has become not just a resident of a city, but an important part of a community.

Audrey first came to the Center because she heard that it was a great place to receive resources, meet people, and get involved.

She was new to town and was working a lot, with little opportunity to socialize or interact in a LGBTQ+ friendly environment.

She started attending the 20-somethings group and found it a space that helped her feel comfortable, safe, and happy. She even expanded her leadership skills by eventually being a facilitator and enjoyed the opportunity to be herself, knowing others would accept her.

Three words that she used to express how she feels when she is at the Center, or its events, are serendipitous, appreciated, and loved.

She truly believes anything is possible when everyone comes together.

The Center’s Coming Out Group focuses on the many emotions and experiences associated with coming out as LGBTQ. There is no single right way to come out or if to come out at all.

When Marc attended the Coming Out Group almost 20 years ago, it gave him a sense of belonging, self worth, and a sense of not being so different from everyone else as a young man.

To him and so many others, the Center is a friend to those in need; a place where everyone feels safe and welcome to be who they are.

Miller grew up in a rigid and oppressive household in the greater Sacramento area and found himself feeling very alone and misunderstood at a young age.

He first came out in 7th grade and continued doing year after year because his family consistently rejected his identity and feelings. Miller’s family even exorcised him in an attempt to not only expel and cure him of his sexual identity but also to rid him of the Tourette’s.

He was eventually kicked out and found himself among the more than 25% of LGBT youth who are homeless.

Miller then discovered the Center’s Q-Spot Drop-In Center; a special place for at-risk and homeless LGBT youth to get resources and services and feel welcome, needed, and safe. Miller was welcomed into the Q-Spot and to the Center’s youth groups. He enjoys his time here, so he attended frequently.

He now is a Peer Advocate in the Center’s Youth Program and states, “I do not know what I would have done with myself without the Center. The Center is my family now.”

Nahyrah and her fiancée Shana came to California with nothing but the clothes on their backs and a few dollars. They did not have stable housing and called shelter after shelter, but they felt as though no one could help.

They were desperate and contacted the Center. Kaylee Hrisoulas, the Community Resources Coordinator, connected them with Women’s Empowerment. Because of that vital referral, they had the opportunity to graduate from the Women’s Empowerment job-readiness program and were married!

As a gay man who lived through the 80s and 90s in the Bay Area, Lou has experienced a great deal of struggle, difficulty, and loss. Not only because he has lost so much of his community all at once, but also because he has been personally involved in the struggle as he was diagnosed with HIV in the late eighties and then later full blown AIDS not long after.

He was given 6 months to live and was told to “get my life in order and prepare for the worst.” This devastating diagnosis is what brought him back to Sacramento; close to family and friends to prepare for the enviable end.

He was shocked and grateful to realize he beat the odds and continues to be survivor today. He was a survivor, but felt isolated and lacked a feeling of community. He discovered Strength in Numbers (SIN), an HIV/AIDS support group at the Center. HIV and AIDS destroy lives and this group is meant to restore connection, provide education, and cultivate a spirit of resilience and empowerment.

Lou is proud to say he later became a facilitator of SIN and has been inspired by his time here to, “reach outside of myself and try to make something better of the world and “my community” around me. One of my fundamental beliefs is that ‘We each can do something local to effect real change here and now, and in that we start to create a ground-up movement that also effects change in the world now!’”

In early 2015, Eli realized he was living in a constant state of numbness; he was never sad nor truly happy either.

He had no interest in food, preferred isolation, and wished he could stay in bed all day.

Eli did some soul-searching. He decided he should try embracing his community and visit the Center. “It was then, in that one simple gesture of opening the door, and in a sense introducing myself to the LGBT world, that would make me realize not only did I find what was missing in my life, but I also found my safe haven. My home.”

He felt understood and accepted and was reminded he is not alone. He even found the strength to come out to his family.

“My father shunned me.”

While his coming out experience did not go well, this painful situation gave everyone in the Q-Spot the opportunity to support Eli and remind him of all the reasons that he is so very capable and worthy of love.