Throughout the month of June, BronxWorks programs and staff have been committed to advancing significant conversations around LGBTQ+ representation and issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community. For an organization as large and diverse as BronxWorks, pride is an important opportunity for us to come together, to stand with staff and program participants who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community, to learn from their experiences, and to support them as they challenge our society to recognize and accept LGBTQ+ rights and identities.
LGBTQ+ is an acronym representing the community of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer/Questioning people, with the plus sign encapsulating the other innumerable identities included under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. June is recognized across the country as LGBTQ Pride Month, dedicated to celebrating and supporting the people in the LGBTQ+ community. This month, BronxWorks programs, staff, and participants came together to celebrate Pride by joining the Bronx LQBTQ+ community at Bronx Pride Festival, by hosting a BronxWorks Pride Event at Betances Cornerstone Community Center, and facilitating important conversations through the BronxWorks LGBTQ+ Committee.
On Saturday, June 17, staff from BronxWorks Positive Living attended Da Bronx Pride Festival hosted by Destination Tomorrow, joining the celebration of the Bronx LGBTQ+ community. The BronxWorks Medical Van was also brought to the Pride Festival, offering free testing for HIV and Hepatitis C, as well as harm reduction resources, and more.
BronxWorks Positive Living is a collection of comprehensive services providing case management and health education, harm reduction, and transmission prevention to individuals living with HIV/AIDS. The program began in the early 1990s as one of the first Bronx-based HIV/AIDS services and has remained an important client-centered resource for the community ever since. “One of Positive Living’s biggest efforts over the years is advocating on behalf of individuals living with HIV/AIDS in the Bronx, including a subsection of the population that is in the LGBTQ+ community,” says Bibi Karim, Department Director. “It has always been important that our program shows our Pride.”
On Friday, June 23, a collaboration between BronxWorks Cornerstones and our staff-led LGBTQ+ Committee organized the 2023 BronxWorks Pride Event. One part conference and one part celebration, the BronxWorks Pride Event held at the Betances Cornerstone Community Center shared information and resources about the LGBTQ+ community to members of the Betances Houses and St. Mary’s Park communities. Guests were invited to join a party with a live DJ, food and refreshments, and giveaways.
Kiesha Roberts, Assistant Department Director of Cornerstones explains the importance of the event. “Pride at BronxWorks is our way to show the communities of the Bronx that we stand for LGBTQ+ rights,” she says. “We have staff and we have participants who identify as LGBTQ+, and we want all of them to know that BronxWorks is a safe and open place for them to be. To do that, we have to also educate our communities on LGBTQ+ issues.”
The event featured BronxWorks programs and staff, including the LGBTQ+ Committee, Betances Cornerstone Community Center, Human Resources Department, Jobs Plus, Fatherhood Center, EXCEL, Positive Living, and SNAP-Ed. Thank you to our community partners who joined the BronxWorks Pride Event, including Ricardo Cosme Ruiz, the Deputy Chief of Community Affairs for the Bronx County District Attorney, as well as representatives from Boricua College, NYC Smoke Free, THRIVE Sunrise Health Center, and the NYC Family Justice Center.