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Letters to the editor

Response from Oakland LGBTQ center
The June 20 editorial published in the Bay Area Reporter ["Communication breakdown harms community"] omitted the fact that in my open letter to the press, I stated that our board members, staff, and volunteers from the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, initially went to the Oakland City Council meeting to show support for Our Family Coalition. OFC created a Facebook invite to the community, requesting that people show up to support them after its agency was defunded.

We attended this meeting to show support for OFC and to advocate for funding for LGBTQ family services in Oakland.

This is not simply a matter of "he said, she said" and community leaders who are people of color "squabbling" over who provides the most services as your editorial stated. We do not need to debate what was said because these comments were captured on Oakland's KTOP community video and are available for public viewing on the city's website and on our website at the link below. Even comments restated in the B.A.R.'s open forum editorial are inaccurate when compared with the video (https://www.oaklandlgbtqcenter.org/copy-of-press).

We were shocked to hear an OFC employee emphatically state to the Oakland City Council and our community at large, that "Only Our Family Coalition (provides services to LGBTQ families), not LGBTQ Oakland Center." This is a false statement and injurious to our two organizations working collaboratively.

The Oakland LGBTQ Community Center is an Oakland-based nonprofit dedicated to enhancing and sustaining the well-being of LGBTQ individuals, our families, and allies, by providing educational, social, health and wellness related activities, programs and services. OFC does needed work in our community and is based in San Francisco.

As a long time community organizer who is the co-founder of both Oakland Pride and the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, if I remained silent about these false statements, I would be doing a disservice to the many volunteers, activist, and community organizers here in Oakland who helped pave the way for LGBTQ services in our city without any type of city funding.

As a resident of Oakland for over 30 years, a gay dad who knows firsthand the challenges of being a single parent and out black gay man, I am keenly aware of the need for culturally competent LGBTQ family support services in our city. The Oakland LGBTQ Community Center currently partners with many other service organizations in Oakland, as we work to help LGBTQ youth and families and we look forward to working with OFC in the future.

The Oakland LGBTQ Community Center was recently recommended for funding by the Oakland Fund for Children and Youth Planning and Oversight Committee. This was a highly competitive grant application process and on June 18, 2019, our organization was approved by the City Council for a grant to serve LGBTQ youth. We are looking forward to launching our first-ever city-funded LGBTQ program. Our goal is to expand our youth and family services programming at the center and we are grateful to the Oakland Fund for Children and Youth and the voters of Measure K for this opportunity.

Joe Hawkins
Executive Director
Oakland LGBTQ Community Center

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