When I started Gay Fresno, back in 2004, I had no idea how quickly it would grow. But, in five short years, we went from a single website to several community service websites, including a community center. I’m happy to say that we now have our independence back. On May 29th 2012, Gay Fresno and Gay Central Valley, a spinoff and former partner of Gay Fresno, decided to part ways. Certain things will remain as they have from the beginning: an all-volunteer staff working tirelessly to bring the community together, community events, such as the recent LGBT Skate Night for Gay Visalia, and the website itself-for the community, by the community.
So what will change for the flagship organization?
First off, it will be a “not for profit,” rather than a “nonprofit” group. So, while that means you won’t be able to write off your donations, it does mean that your donations will be able to go farther-such as endorsing pro-equality politicians (something 501(c)(3) nonprofit groups are forbidden from doing). Before you gasp at the idea of us jumping into politics, remember that politicians have the power to change the rules. Change doesn’t happen only because we will it to happen. We also need to vote it into office. Unfortunately, even good people don’t get voted in these days.
Second, Gay Fresno is back to its roots: information, availability and community. When I first went out looking for people and organizations to connect with and get help from in the early 2000’s, I found nothing but voicemail boxes that did not get calls returned. The LGBT community deserved better. Armed with a desire to inform and connect the LBGT community, especially in a conservative area that had little to no online options available to them, I began Gay Fresno, a website devoted to being the cohesive structure around which a community could grow and connect.
So, what will stay the same?
Gay Fresno, and its co-websites, Gay Visalia, Gay Porterville, and Gay Hanford, will continue to do what they’ve been doing all along: working for the community, by the community, and within the community. The websites will continue to contribute to the community with information and the ability to bring people together through events and activities. People will still be able to write in and comment, and even contribute their opinions and thoughts (this is encouraged). The organization will still promote equality, but will be able to work smarter by utilizing the political world and understanding that if we do not elect pro-equality politicians into office, all the protesting in the world will be for naught. In short, Gay Fresno will have the same message as always: pulling a community together.
Unfortunately, Gay Fresno walked away from this dissolution without the funds it brought into it. The organization is choosing to look at this as an opportunity to start fresh and to dream big. After all, dreaming big is what got Gay Fresno, the starting point for so many other central valley LGBT groups, so big to begin with. It is what got people giving a dollar here, and five dollars there. It is what got people out and skating or bowling at the community social events. And, there is a fair amount of evidence, that it is what kept more than one LGBT person from feeling alone and hopeless.
Asking for money is never fun, it is always awkward, and you risk alienating people. But, organizations need funds to run. Gay Fresno has been tirelessly serving this community for eight years, contributing to its growth, its knowledge, and its acceptance. Gay Fresno has and will continue to support community events like Fresno Rainbow Pride, Reel Pride and many other local organizations. We’re where you go to see what is going on in the community, what the latest news is, and even what churches are gay friendly. But we cannot do it without your support.
Please take a moment to visit http://www.GayFresno.com/support and see the ways you can make a difference.
So, there are the changes in store for Gay Fresno. It is back on its own, and back to its roots.
Change can be a good thing.
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