‘Center South’ will provide HIV testing; access to PrEP and PEP services; housing case management; mental health services; a computer lab; and more
The Los Angeles LGBT Center recently opened the doors of Center South, a 5,500-square-foot community space located at 2313 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., near Leimert Park.
The location of this new facility signifies the first-ever expansion of the world’s largest LGBT organization into South Los Angeles and champions its long-term commitment to care for LGBT people living throughout the city.
All of Center South’s programs and services will be provided to everyone for free or at low cost with a focus on serving the needs of young gay and bisexual men of color ages 12 to 29. According to the 2017 Los Angeles County Annual HIV Surveillance Report, South Los Angeles had the second highest rate of HIV diagnoses in the county. The rate continues to rise among young Black and Latino gay and bisexual men, and the rate among Black cisgender women are slowly increasing.
“Leimert Park has a thriving community of LGBTQ people of color, and I would like to welcome the Los Angeles LGBT Center to South Los Angeles as they continue their 50-year-plus history of life-changing and life-saving work,” Los Angeles Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson said. “The Center has provided safe spaces across L.A. for decades, and young Black and Latinx gay and bi (cis)men and women need that kind of support here in their neighborhood.”
The grand opening community celebration included remarks by Center CEO Lorri L. Jean, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health – Division of HIV and STD Programs Director Mario J. Pérez, and Los Angeles Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson. Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, guests toured the facility and reveled in the daylong festivity which included food, refreshments, giveaways, a resource fair, and entertainment.
“We’re thrilled to be opening Center South, and we’re proud to be doing so with wonderful partners: Bienestar Human Services, Black AIDS Institute, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and The Wall Las Memorias Project. Together, we will serve a wider array of folks here than we are now doing separately,” Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean said. “Most importantly, among our areas of focus will be the people who are most vulnerable for new HIV infections: young gay and bisexual Black and Latino men and transgender women of color. We intend for Center South to be an especially welcoming place for them.”
Funded in part by the County Department of Public Health, Center South addresses the societal and health needs of LGBT people of color living in South Los Angeles by providing comprehensive programs and services, such as HIV testing; access to PrEP and PEP services; housing case management; mental health services; and a drop-in safe space which can also be used to host community events. A CyberCenter computer lab comprised of a new printer and eight new Lenovo desktop computers loaded with Office 2016 and Windows 10 software was generously funded by the David Bohnett Foundation.
“Today is the realization of a dream of many years, but this is just the beginning,” Jean said. “By working with our partner organizations and local community leaders, I have no doubt that, together, we will ensure that Center South becomes a vibrant, vital, and beloved part of our South Los Angeles community.”