Center the Culture: Celebrating Black History Month at The Center

Black History Month gives us a special opportunity to highlight the impact Black LGBTQ+ people have on The Center. Read more to see how we're centering Black people and culture this month and all year round.

Happy Black History Month!

This month and every day, The Center works to celebrate, support, and amplify Black LGBTQ+ New Yorkers. We know Black LGBTQ+ people have been neglected throughout history; therefore, we’re intentionally making space at The Center for affirmation. Acknowledging the impact that ongoing racism and homophobia have on these members of our community, we’re prioritizing creating opportunities for Black joy, connection, and health & wellness.

Meeting the Need

The Center is a multiservice nonprofit organization. We provide social support, recovery services, HIV & AIDS services, youth programming, arts & cultural programs, career readiness, and more. As the second-largest LGBT Community Center in the country, we’re also a special event venue, meeting & gathering space, and a hub for LGBTQ+ activism and advocacy.  

With everything we offer and our 40-year history as a cornerstone of LGBTQ+ culture, we’re particularly well-positioned to ensure Black LGBTQ+ people have access to the programs, services, spaces, and support needed.

Centering Black LGBTQ+ people

  • In 2019 we held our first queer Juneteenth celebration. The first celebration was virtual due to COVID-19, but in the years since, we’ve welcomed thousands of Black LGBTQ+ New Yorkers to celebrate Juneteenth in person at our block party.
  • We’ve centered the needs of Black LGBTQ+ people in our Substance Use Recovery program.
  • In 2021, we launched our Activist in Residence Fellowship to support established and emerging Black activists who have bold, cutting-edge ideas for advancing LGBTQ+ rights in New York State. 
  • Also, that year, we hosted our first Black Holiday Market, which focuses on supporting small businesses owned by Black LGBTQ+ people.
  • In 2022, we announced our values and Centered Communities — LGBTQ+ people who have been neglected or harmed by racism, transphobia, sexism, and poverty.
  • We’ve invested in embedding racial equity into everything we do — a process that includes adopting more equitable practices in hiring, compensation, leadership, advancement, and org-wide transparency.

Equity at The Center

"For our programming and services to be truly equitable and for us to achieve our mission, we must recognize and respond to the long-term, pervasive effects of all forms of racism on our community members."

Cristina Jones, Chief People and Equity Officer

This month, Dr. Carla Smith begins her tenure as our CEO. A Black woman, she will be the first person of color to lead The Center. In observance of Black History Month, we are celebrating some of the people who’ve been central to our work, including our staff, event honorees, community partners, and supporters. Follow The Center on social media (@lgbtcenternyc) and join us in giving them their flowers. 

Additionally, everyone is invited to visit The Center to celebrate Black History Month! Join us for a variety of events that center Black culture, including Second Tuesday featuring Raquel Willis, DickAppointment x The Center Black History Month Brunch, Who Do Ya Luv? Love Letters & Justice, and CELEBRATION 2: a queer BIPOC artist collective and art fair

Check out our calendar to see everything happening at The Center this month.

a Black person wearing black leather tank top and headpiece stands with arms open an their back to you as the pride flag flies over them. The Center is on the flag in black letters

Our Black History Month theme, ‘Center the Culture,’ is an ode to our storied cultural presence. It celebrates our ongoing impact and commitment to Black LGBTQ+ New Yorkers. It’s cultivated through the Advocacy & Community Engagement team, ensuring we remain dedicated to creating bold, safe spaces and opportunities that celebrate Black LGBTQ+ people by meeting them at the intersection of their identities.

Beyond Black History Month, we will come together to amplify New York’s LGBTQ+ diverse existence through curated events, community service, and social activities.