Months after a scandal led to the closing of the only LGBTQ center in the Bronx, community advocates are pushing to fill the void. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.
The Bronx Community Pride Center was a safe haven for Charly Dominguez. He eventually became a leader there, coordinating art programs for young people.
"It was a space where I can come together with other GLBT people," Dominguez said. "We can build community. We were able to express ourselves, be a support system to each other."
The center closed last year, though, after its executive director, Lisa Winters, was accused of, and ultimately pleaded guilty to, looting the organization. That's left many of Dominguez's students with nowhere to go.
"Unfortunately, a lot of the young people kind of slipped through the cracks because they were no longer connected to what they knew to be their safe haven," Dominguez said.
Now, there's talk of creating a new center that Dominguez hopes can reconnect former members and others to the LGBTQ community and needed services.
A small group has set up a new nonprofit called the Bronx LGBTQ Center. They're still looking for a building, but in the meantime, they say they want input from the people who will use it.
"It's the community's center, and we want to hear from the community. I want open dialogue and hear back from them and get their feedback on what the priorities are, what their needs are," said Tym Moss, president of the Bronx LGBTQ. "We're trying to be as transparent as possible."
Because there's no physical home for the new center yet and there may not be one for quite some time, the organizers hold outreach events to let the community know they're here and what they're planning. Monthly walks also help spread the word about how to report hate crimes. It's important, say community leaders, especially in light of recent bias attacks.
"Everyone needs to support the LGBTQ community," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
The center is limited in what it can do now. It will continue this type of outreach and host meetings online or in temporary space.
Members of the community hope the center will move quickly from theory to reality, because they said a LGBTQ center is desperately needed here.