One of the things I hear constantly from queers in the community is that they want a community centre. I’ve heard people talking about this since I arrived here in 1993.
The first place I volunteered when I got here was The Centre and I know it’s been a dream of theirs for many years. I worked on the Prideline providing referrals to services across the province and peer counselling to other queers who were looking for someone to talk to.
Yet after more than ten years of hearing folks talk about wanting a community centre, no one has ever asked me for money to pay for it. I’ve been asked to donate to Friends for Life, the Dr Peter Centre, AIDS Vancouver, YouthCO, Youthquest, Out On Screen, BCPWA, A Loving Spoonful, Team Vancouver, and the Pride Society to name a few. I’ve also been stopped on Davie St by Care Canada, Greenpeace, Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International and the provincial NDP.
But I’ve never been asked to help pay for a gigantic queer community dream.
You know what? I’ve given money to all of these organizations at one time or another. And I know a lot of others who have too.
So I need to ask the question: when will I get the chance to help build our community dream? It is a community dream, isn’t it?
I certainly hope I don’t sound nasty. I mean, it’s not like I’ve been banging down The Centre’s door asking them how I can help make this dream happen.
In fact, it was only a couple of weeks ago that I purchased a membership at The Centre in order to support what I think is a fundamental service and structure at the core of a vibrant and healthy community.
If the community wants a community centre, the community is going to have step up and help make it happen.
I’m sure there are a lot of competing ideas of what a community centre should look like but this competition can’t stop us from moving ahead.
I’ve enjoyed the great facilities at the Jewish Community Centre, the Croatian Community Centre, the Aboriginal Friendship Centre, the Italian Community Centre and more. I’ve been to New York City’s Gay and Lesbian Community Centre where queers meet up with friends before going out on the town on a Friday night. And who could forget The 519 in Toronto where activists and community organizers have met for years to build Toronto’s vibrant queer community.
I know I’m not alone when I say I really want to see a queer community centre in this city. Will someone just tell me what it’s going to take?