The Brooklyn Community Pride Center now has all of its programming, including a weekly senior program, under one roof in MetroTech, allowing it to expand its outreach. Borough reporter Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
The Brooklyn Community Pride Center welcomed Brooklynites to its new space in MetroTech earlier this month. Now all of its programming that was spread out at community centers across the borough is coming under one roof, including its weekly program for seniors.
"This is my first time here. I went to the old pride center on Atlantic Avenue but I came down for elder pride and to see the new center both," says Ted Thompson, a Sunset Park resident.
The elder pride program offers a safe gathering space every Monday for LGBT seniors to socialize.
"It actually feels good. I don't feel so isolated as I might not being around other people like myself, meeting elders that you can have a great relationship and have companions," says Barbara Adams, a Clinton Hill resident.
"It's cheerful. The people here are nice, warm and friendly and welcoming. And that's the important thing. That's what I'm looking for in a senior center geared toward the LGBT community," Thompson says.
Brooklyn was the last of the boroughs to set up an LGBT center, only five years ago. It moved into the Downtown Brooklyn location for more space and ground-level access.
Still, its elder program tries to keep seniors active. They marched in Brooklyn's Gay Pride Parade this month and took a trip to Coney Island. The program also reaches out to other senior centers boroughwide.
"When elders enter retirement communities, oftentimes they'll go back into the closet for fear of not feeling safe," says Erin Drinkwater, the pride center's executive director. "We go into mainstream senior centers and we use current and cultural events to then pivot and talk about LGBT issues. We've just updated the sports dialogue to include Jason Collins coming out as a major NBA athlete."
The center offers all kinds of resources and support, and of course, bingo.
"My first visit just sold me and I continued ever since then. So I look forward to Mondays. A good reason to look forward to Mondays," Adams says.
The pride center looks forward to continuing to grow in years to come.