Happy Pride Everyone!
As many of you may have read, Affirmations was recently picketed by a far-right Christian hate extremist group. In fact, I and a handful of other LGBTQ+ leaders in Michigan received a letter in the mail recently claiming to be from the ‘Punishment of God’ and damning us to “unbearable agony” and an “eternal life in hell.” It is lost on no one that as these so-called “Christian” picketers held their hate signs out front of Affirmations, the staff and volunteers were LITERALLY handing out food boxes and clothes out of the back of the Center! The fact is, during COVID, demand for our services has only increased. The attacks on our community – whether that be from religious zealots, a rise in hate crimes, or attacks on young trans athletes – have only increased.
The truth is…Affirmations is needed now more than ever. If I didn’t believe that (important to note here that as I write this sentence in late APRIL it is snowing outside my office window!) I would be back on a beach in Santa Monica! I write about the need because the need in our community is real. We see it Every. Single. Day. The past year and a half have been truly unprecedented and challenging for us all – especially for LGBTQ+ community centers across the country. In these tough times, Affirmations has not only survived but is thriving. That only happens because the community continues to protect the Center with their time, talent, and resources. Affirmations is not simply a beautiful brick and mortar mortgage-free building.
Affirmations is a community of people helping and protecting our own. From the board of directors, to the donors, volunteers, community and staff – Affirmations is a living and evolving institution. Financially, your Center remains strong. Our 2020 audit is nearly complete and it will show Affirmations back in the black for the third year in a row. While we continue to take a significant financial hit in both special event and rental income because of the closure of the Center, support from individuals and through various grantmakers remains strong.
We continue to pivot to serve the emerging needs of our community during the pandemic. We are proud to announce that Affirmations is now a pop-up community vaccination site! This is very important news, especially now when the LGBTQ+ community is being vaccinated at lower rates than the general population. My hope is that by providing a safe space for our community, we will see many more LGBTQ+ individuals getting vaccinated. Because we are an organization that is open to all, vaccinations will be available for everyone, not just LGBTQ+ folks. It’s a true execution of our mission.
We are excited to announce our second-annual Pride Telethon Livestream at Affirmations on June 26th from Noon to 6 PM featuring live entertainment, surprise guest appearances, and the presentation of Affirmations’ Community Awards. Last year’s telethon was a blast and I am so looking forward to this year’s production! Also, on June 1st we will be conducting a virtual Community Town Hall to kick off Pride Month where we will be making some big announcements. Tune in on Tuesday, June 1st at 7 PM on our Facebook channel to hear the news: facebook.com/affirmations
Amigos, Affirmations will emerge from this pandemic stronger than before. We have discovered many silver linings in our work over the past year. Take for instance our virtual groups where we are serving more folks than ever before and in a larger geographic region. Our counseling program, through the use of teletherapy, has served many individuals that would have been unable to visit the Center in person. Moving forward, we envision a hybrid solution that will be used to engage these individuals all across the state and country.
As you can see, the team at Affirmations is strong and is ready to meet each challenge head-on.
Because of your support, we have been able to meet those challenges. You have helped us grow and thrive. You are the reason Affirmations has been serving the community for over 30 years and it is because of you that we will continue to thrive for many more years to come.
So, when the hate mail comes – and it always does – it doesn’t bother me anymore. I’ve been doing this work for well over 20 years now and not much gets to me these days. I simply put my head down…think about our community and all we can still accomplish together…and we simply get to work!
P.S. The Affirmations Pride Fundraising Campaign begins May 1st and ends June 30, culminating with our Pride Telethon on June 26th. A generous supporter of the Center has put forth a challenge to the community. This donor will match each dollar raised up to $25,000!
Will you help us continue to drive our mission forward?
Feel free to make a donation online at: GoAffirmations.org/Support
P.S.S. Many thanks to the City of Ferndale for their vision to continue to beautify Downtown Ferndale. They will be installing a seating area in front of the Center at the intersection of W 9 Mile and Allen Road. The piece is designed and manufactured by Detroit Metal Elements. Construction is planned to completed in late April of this year.