Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

News Briefs: Visalia LGBT center marks 1 year with expansion


Nick Vargas, left, and Brian Poth are raising money for an LGBT community center in Visalia. Photo: Brooke Jackson Photography
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One year after announcing efforts to open an LGBT community center in downtown Visalia, leaders of the Central Valley resource are doubling the size of the space.

The news comes after a similar center in Merced unexpectedly closed its doors last month after two years of operation, as the Bay Area Reporter reported last week.

The Source LGBT-plus Center officially launched last March with a fundraising goal of $5,000 to cover its initial expenses. Shortly after the B.A.R. first reported about the campaign and plans for the center, its boosters easily surpassed the total.

It opened its doors in May inside a basement space in the retail building at 208 West Main Street in the heart of the city's downtown. Co-founders Nick Vargas, who grew up in Visalia, and Brian Poth, who grew up in nearby Tulare, determined there was a need for a center after moving back home in the summer of 2015.

Last week they announced the center had outgrown its 400 square foot space and would be expanding into an adjacent space of similar size that connects to it and had become vacant. The center began moving in Wednesday, March 1.

It also announced a new crowdfunding campaign aimed at raising $5,000 to cover the cost of a year's rent for the additional lease.

"We know we can count on ALL OF YOU to help us expand to serve even more LGBT+ people," wrote Vargas and Poth on the fundraising page.

Since it opened its doors, the Source has seen more than 1,500 visitors. Its programming runs the gamut from recovery meetings and transgender resources to drop-in hours and health services like access to condoms. The center will soon offer HIV support groups and after school tutoring for high school students.

As of Wednesday, nearly $950 had already been raised through the online fundraising effort.

To donate, visit


Baum to talk about 'Hick' at Rosie museum

San Francisco playwright and author Terry Baum will talk about the love story of Lenora Hickock and Eleanor Roosevelt when she gives a talk Saturday, March 4 at 11 a.m. at the Rosie the Riveter WW II Home Front National History Park, 1414 Harbour Way in Richmond.

Baum gathered quite a bit of information while researching her play, "Hick: A Love Story – the Romance of Lenora Hickock and Eleanor Roosevelt." Baum plans to discuss Roosevelt's 30-year relationship with Hickock, a famous reporter, including evidence that the pair carried on a lesbian affair early in their friendship.

While there is disagreement among historians about the nature of the women's relationship, Baum said that there is evidence the two shared a love affair for several years and would remain friends and partners in activism, according to a news release.

Organizers said that interested people should attend even if all reservations are taken. For more information, visit

Matthew S. Bajko contributed reporting.


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