By Denise DePaolo
Images by Liz Painter
The Centers for Equality want us to keep something in mind. South Dakotans who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender are just that – South Dakotans. And they have a whole lot of allies. The goal is to keep people talking about what it means to live in a state that celebrates inclusivity, and ensure that we are moving toward a future where everyone feels accepted and safe.
Chapters based in Rapid City and Sioux Falls each have initiatives launching this spring aimed at such an end. For the East River Center, it will ask each of us, “What’s Your Center?” Inspired by the national “It Gets Better” campaign, “What’s Your Center?” endeavors to remind us that at our core, we are all fundamentally the same.
“Really, the purpose is to let people know we exist, what our programming is, and how they can get involved,” explained Center for Equality Sioux Falls vice president Brienne Maner. “And also to become more approachable and humanize the effort and talk about how we all have the same struggles, loves, wants, and needs in life. Really, we’re talking about what centers us and trying to bring people together and come to an understanding.”
The West River Center is launching a sponsorship to help cover everyday costs like the phone, which is answered 24/7, and other expenses like travel to Pierre to advocate for LGBT rights. Additionally, the Black Hills Center for Equality is continuing its “We Are Here” campaign. Like its eastern sister, it is working to depoliticized sexuality and gender and remind us that those who identify as LGBT have always been here, whether or not they made themselves known, and they are just like everybody else.
“When I go into a group of people who don’t think they’ve ever met a gay person, what I want them to leave with is, ‘Oh my god. They vacuum,’” laughed Nancy Rosenbrahn, president of the Black Hills Center for Equality. “So often, their impression or expectation is much bigger than that. But what it all boils down to is we do dishes and vacuum and laundry, and our lives are no different in so many areas.”
Read the full article in the April issue of 605 Magazine or click here.