Video: Affirmations Director on Labels, Legislation, and LGBTQ+ Needs
(Crystal A. Proxmire, Feb. 24, 2022)
Ferndale, MI- Dave Garcia is the Executive Director of Michigan’s largest LGBTQ+ community center.
Affirmations, located at 290 W. 9 Mile in Downtown Ferndale, has served the community for over 30 years, with the later half in the state of the art building they’re currently in. The center hosts a variety of community groups which will be resuming in-person meetings in March – including groups for youth, seniors, support, and recovery. The large community room on the main floor has been converted to a theatre space perfect for presentations and performances. Ringwald Theatre uses the space share the gifts of drama and laughter, while Metropolitan Community Church brings faith and love on Sundays. There’s also a computer lab, an art gallery, and medical and mental health services including licensed therapists.
The seasoned community leader spoke with Oakland County Times about what is new at Affirmations, including programs, advocacy work, and conversations happening around labels – from the “alphabet soup” to gender identity.
Garcia loves the variety of ways he and the 17-member staff – along with many volunteers – work together to meet a variety of needs at the center. But there’s also work being done across the state and the country as he works with community centers in the CenterLink Network.
Gay marriage and pop culture advances don’t mean that the community is safe and equal. “The biggest threat to the LGBT community since HIV/AIDS is the religious exemption,” Garcia said. “And we continue to see religious exemption laws pop up all over the country… Everybody thinks this is about wedding cakes or wedding photographers – and by the way, even if it were that, it does make me angry too because those businesses depend on taxpayer dollars for things like police protection, or the WIFI network that is in the neighborhood, the sidewalks outside of their business. So even if it were about those things, I’m interested and angry at the ways some of this is playing out. But the reality is it’s much more serious than that. Right here in Detroit you had the pediatrician at a hospital in Detroit refusing to treat a baby because the baby’s parents were lesbians.”
“There’s so much to do on the legislative front,” he said.
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Learn more about Affirmations at www.goaffirmations.org.