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The Center's Critical Families Program During COVID-19
March 8, 2021

Dear Center Community,

We know that for those of us staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic, it brings many challenges, and families continue to be affected in many and unique ways. Being in closer proximity, not having many outings, home schooling, lack of privacy, and more sharing has brought many shifts in family units and The Center’s Families program has responded. One of the largest shifts in our Families program has been responding to more and more youth coming out as gay or lesbian, transgender, or nonbinary during quarantine. We have received many requests from parents seeking support for themselves, social spaces to connect with other parents, and educational spaces to learn about how to best support their child – like how to ‘come out’ to extended family when many aren’t gathering in person, how to explain new concepts to ‘grandma and grandpa’ and younger siblings, how to navigate holiday gatherings, what to do with family that does not understand or accept youth, why respecting a transgender or nonbinary youth’s stated pronouns can save their life, and other important topics. The Families program has brought guest speakers, Center staff who are transgender and nonbinary, into a virtual safe learning space for families and parents to uncomplicate these new concepts for parents and families.
The Families program staff has worked with social workers on behalf of clients, as well as educated them and school administrators about laws pertaining to LGBTQ student safety. Many times, a youth is not ‘out’ at home and the Families program educates school workers on an individual safety plan including allies at school, who at home or at school knows about their status, mapping out pronouns, what restrooms they use, and boundaries for youth. But the Families program work doesn’t stop there - they help with rental and utility bill help, assist with connection to The Center’s food banks and non-perishables food home delivery, provided gift cards that are used to purchase fresh grocery items, and have connected clients with pro bono legal representation when the need was critical. Click here to see the monthly Families groups.
If you, or someone you know, is in need of The Center’s Families program, please contact or call 619. 692. 2077 x 212.

In community,
-Cara Dessert (Pronouns: She/Her/Hers)
Chief Executive Officer
In a pre-COVID-19 time, thousands would flock to local LGBTQ establishments seeking nights of fun, camaraderie, and entertainment from our restaurant and bar service workers and local drag performers. It seemed that almost every local establishment hosted a recurring show featuring some of our well-known local top talents. While we miss those nights, the entertainers and service workers miss it more, as it has brought a tremendous loss of income and these community members need our support. The Center is here for our community and on Saturday, March 20 beginning at 5 pm, we are bringing back some fun by bringing back one of our signature fundraising events, Tantrums & Tiaras! Hosted by Babette Schwartz, an entertaining virtual pre-show event will precede a special virtual viewing of last year’s 2020 production of Tantrums & Tiaras. And most importantly, community members will have a chance to donate to support, not only The Center’s Emergency Services, but also our local drag performers, and bar and restaurant service staff. Visit here for details and to donate:

With gratitude,

Ian Johnson (Pronouns: He/Him/His)
Director of Development
The Center is continuing our advocacy for a more equitable San Diego City budget with our partners at the Community Budget Alliance (CBA). The budgeting process is complex and starts months before the final vote in June, and we want to ensure our community understands the process, and knows when and how you can make your voice heard by decision makers. CBA is putting on a series of workshops to deconstruct sections of the City’s budget to educate our community on what is included and what CBA’s budget priorities are. Below are the upcoming online forums to help imagine a new vision for the City of San Diego so we can advocate together for a true People's Budget. Please sign up to attend the forums at the links below.
Tuesday, March 9, 5:30pm-7pm
Democratizing Power: Panelists will talk about how an Office of Youth Success, language access and the Office of Race & Equity are crucial to transparent and community led governments.
Tuesday, March 16, 5:30pm-7pm
Environmental Justice: Panelists will talk about what we mean when we say environmental justice. We’ll also talk about what we’re fighting for this year and want to hear from you about your priorities for environmental justice.
Tuesday, March 23, 5:30pm-7pm
Housing & Tenants’ Rights: Panelists will provide community education about resources for renters and the need for more protections. The panel will also talk about what we’re fighting for in this year’s budget and the ongoing fight to protect tenants.

Tuesday, March 30, 5:30pm-7pm
People’s Economy: People not corporations are the economy. Panelists will talk about how we can protect workers rights and explore how any economic recovery efforts must put people first.
Tuesday, April 6, 5:30pm-7pm

Redefining Public Safety Panel #2: Invest in Communities: Panelists will discuss how investing in communities and community care is what makes us safe.

 Stay up to date on The Center’s Advocacy efforts with regular updates from our Advocacy team. Click here to sign up. 

Rebekah Hook-Held (Pronouns: She/Her/Hers)
Chief Public Affairs & Civic Engagement Officer
As we acknowledge the one-year mark of the Governor’s shutdown order to combat the pandemic, The Center acknowledges this life-altering year and the heartbreaking loss it brought. Every culture has traditional approaches to commemorating those that they have lost, such as singing a dirge, burning incense at a shrine, or in Latino@ and Filipin@ cultures, creating an ofrenda (altar).
To honor and remember individuals who have passed due to COVID-19, please visit The Center’s community ofrenda to pay respects however your culture does so: light a candle, burn incense, sing, pray, meditate, leave flowers, pictures, food, or hand written sentiments. Please wear a mask and practice social distancing so that we may all stay healthy as we work together to end this pandemic. If you are unable to attend and would like special assistance to honor a loved one or if you have questions, please contact Ricardo at
Ofrenda hours and information:
  • Thursday, March 18 and Friday, March 19 from 4pm - 7pm
  • Saturday, March 20 from 10am  - 1pm
  • In The San Diego LGBT Community Center, 3909 Centre Street, San Diego CA 92103 parking lot

VACCINE UPDATE: Keep up to date on COVID-19 vaccine phases, information, details on vaccination sites, or to make your appointment, visit the San Diego County website..

TESTING: Need a COVID-19 test? Just click here for a list of testing sites or call 2-1-1. 

STOP THE SPREAD: Sign up for California’s exposure notification system to get exposure alerts. Visit CA Notify for details. 

FREE RIDES: Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) is offering free transit rides to COVID-19 vaccine appointment locations, including vaccination sites in the county. Show a confirmation email of your vaccine appointment that day - either a printout or on a smartphone - to get on board for free. Learn more.

Many community members have faced financial hardship and food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to this, for the month of March 2021, The San Diego LGBT Community Center and Hillcrest Brewing Company ( will be partnering to offer a free meal. Please click here to sign up. Feel free to pass this link along to community members who you think would benefit. For questions, please reach out to Sarah Merk-Benitez at
Join in community for discussion and support groups, special programs, and more via Zoom - all tailored for our LGBTQ community. Please visit our website, visit The Center's Facebook page, or call us at (619) 800-4252 from 9am - 4pm or (619) 800-4216 from 4pm - 9pm to find the right one for you. Below find just some of The Center's offerings. 
Join our partners at San Diego Pride as we all virtually celebrate Transgender Day of Empowerment on Friday, April 2, 2021 from 6pm-7pm! On this special evening, enjoy speeches, live performances, community awards, and more! This event will be interpreted in American Sign Language. RSVP here: and join the live stream directly here For more information contact Sarafina Scapicchio, she/her, San Diego Pride's Director of Philanthropy at 619-906-0024 or  

The 7th annual Tracie Jada O’Brien Transgender Student Scholarship Fund will be awarding their 100th recipient this year at the Transgender Day of Empowerment event. This scholarship is open to students from, or residing in, San Diego County that identify as transgender, are living outside of the gender binary and/or are in the process of transitioning their gender. This scholarship fund will grant monetary scholarships every year, as funds permit, to students that will be starting or continuing their education at a 2-year college, 4-year college, technical school, grad school, or vocational training program. 
Applications for the Tracie Jada O’Brien Transgender Student Scholarship Fund are open until Sunday, March 14, 2021. Click here to apply
If you are interested in contributing to trans excellence and would like to support a San Diego scholar, please click here to donate. 100% of donations to the scholarship fund are given directly to local transgender students seeking higher education. As always, 100% of funds raised will go directly to the scholarship awards and your donation is tax deductible.
Covered California has established a special-enrollment period to give Californians more opportunities to sign up for health care coverage without needing to meet the normal qualifying life events. Anyone who meets Covered California’s eligibility requirements can sign up for coverage through May 15th and have their coverage begin on the first of the following month. For more information, visit or call 1.800.300.1506. You can also get free and confidential assistance in a variety of languages from a certified enroller, or have a certified enroller call them and help for free.
The Center is one of San Diego’s most exciting places to work! Center staff members are renowned for their dynamic and creative teamwork, cutting edge innovations, consistent professionalism, and extraordinary heart and dedication. The Center offers employees an amazing environment where community building, compassion, and care are uniquely combined with an insistent striving toward excellence and best practices. Check out our job listings. 
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If you are in crisis or considering suicide, you are not alone.
There are resources and help available for you:
  • Trans Lifeline: 1.877.565.8860 - For trans or nonbinary folx in the US
  • Trevor Project Lifeline: 1.866.488.7386 - For LGBT youth (18-24)
  • National Suicide Hotline: 1.800.273.8255 - For all ages & identities
  • San Diego Access and Crisis Line: 1.888.724.7240 - Free suicide prevention/intervention hotline in San Diego County
Copyright © 2021 San Diego LGBT Community Center, All rights reserved.

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