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Brooklyn Community Pride Center

Stories of Impact

A group of people wearing matching shirts and holding a banner that reads "Brooklyn Community Pride Center" walk in a pride parade down a street lined with buildings and trees.
Courtesy of Brooklyn Community Pride Center
Brooklyn Community Pride Center at the Brooklyn Pride Parade

Walk through the Brooklyn Community Pride Center (BCPC) space in the Crown Heights Armory – known formally as the Major R. Owens Health & Wellness Community Center – and you’ll be welcomed with a bustle of activity: from ballroom practice, to book clubs, to craft workshops, there’s no shortage of activities to keep LGBTQ+ Brooklynites engaged and supported.

Amidst all of this action, it’s hard to believe that BCPC has only been around since 2008. Back then, despite having a huge, vibrant, and diverse queer community, the borough lacked centralized spaces for LGBTQ+ Brooklynites.

“Folks shouldn’t have to go outside of the borough to access space and services and community,” BCPC Executive Director Kenrick Ross said. “That should be happening in Brooklyn.”

Since its humble beginnings in a donated room in Brooklyn Borough Hall, BCPC has only grown in impact and popularity. Ross notes that the past few years have been a period of significant growth, and the organization will additionally launch a full mental health program in late 2024.

10,000+ People Served by Brooklyn Community Pride Center Annually

In the last fiscal year alone, more than 10,000 people utilized BCPC’s resources, from anchor events like their National Coming Out Day celebration, to their weekly programming that features language-specific spaces and trans swim nights.

“It’s this niche concept,” Ross explained of the latter program. “Transgender and gender nonconforming people get so few sports environments where they are comfortable, and we’re creating that for them.”

The “center model,” wherein multiple organizations are housed under one facility, is at the crux of BCPC’s work. With onsite partners like the Ali Forney Center and the Brooklyn Ghost Project, BCPC has strived to create a constellation of LGBTQ+ services that holistically address people’s needs.

 

A person with a tattoo on their neck is drawing on a piece of paper at a table filled with markers, glue sticks, a smartphone, and other craft materials.
Brooklyn Community Pride Center offers arts and crafts workshops, among other programming.

For Ross, there are both literal and symbolic meanings to having a physical space at the Armory: In addition to having the square footage to actually host programming, being in a hub also demonstrates how integral BCPC is to Brooklyn life.

“I think that really sends the signal that LGBTQ+ people are truly part of the fabric of the community in Brooklyn,” he said. “We’re not off to the side, you’re not going to push us into the fringes or into the shadows.”

Ross notes that the flexibility of Brooklyn Org’s funding has been incredibly helpful in BCPC’s ability to expand their services to even more underserved LGBTQ+ populations—from immigrants to older adults.

LGBTQ+ people are truly part of the fabric of the community in Brooklyn. We're not off to the side, you're not going to push us into the fringes or into the shadows. Kenrick Ross, Executive Director

In developing programming for more senior LGBTQ+ community members, BCPC strives to be intentional about curating a range of offerings that reflects people’s needs and desires.

“It’s not just about coming to a support group and talking to each other for an hour a week,” he explained. “It’s about finding an activity where conversations can be organic and resources can flow freely.”

And as important as it’s been for BCPC to create a physical space for its community members, Ross also dreams of a time where the organization can grow and serve beyond its walls.

“I’m truly excited about the concept that just because you can’t come to us, it doesn’t mean that we don’t serve you.” And he couldn’t think of a better place to do this than Brooklyn, which he considers cutting edge.

A group of people sit around a table in a modern indoor space, engaged in conversation. Bottled water and various items are on the table. A display on the wall reads "#brooklyn".
Senior LGBTQ+ Brooklyn Community Pride Center community members
A basketball game in an indoor gym. A player in an orange shirt is jumping to shoot the ball while a player in a maroon shirt reaches to block. Other players are in the background.
BCSC offers open basketball gym hours and other sports activities

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