Sidney Smith, Anne 'Sarge' Barr and C. Emile Dacus, left to right. (Courtesy and file photos)

Readers weigh in on how Georgia’s LGBT nonprofits have affected their lives

“Raising children to recognize and celebrate not only their own, but everyone’s, full range of complex and unique human expressions is one of the primary focuses of my life. I believe that we can do that with relationships and stories. And Charis provides both. Their Race-Conscious Parenting Collective, led by ER Anderson and Shannon Gaggero, has provided us with the framework to work for justice and a community of people doing the same. I am profoundly grateful.”
-Leigh Ann Luscan on Charis Circle

Leigh Ann Luscan and family (Courtesy photo)

“Solutions Not Punishment Collaborative deeply appreciates the contributions Atlanta Pride has made to our work and our communities over the last couple years. They have been a critical partner in our work to uplift the voices and lives of black trans and queer people in this city, put an end to the criminalization of our communities and keep us safe on the streets and in our homes. They come through!”
-Xochitl Bervera of Solutions Not Punishment Collaborative on Atlanta Pride

“Jim Farmer and his support during the final stages of completing our first film ‘Queer Moxie’ in 2015 frankly made the difference in the film being finished and released to a sold out crowd; giving us the confidence to continue to make films celebrating and representing those making a difference. As a first time filmmaker I struggled with “imposter syndrome,” a desire for perfection and the pressure of representing this community I loved in the best light. As a first feature length film for both myself and my film partner, we had to learn and overcome what seemed at times a never ending string of obstacles and programs. There was a moment when we doubted we could get it done in time for an OOF premiere and thought of pulling our submission to the festival. Jim listened, told us he would respect our decision but wanted us to know that our film was good and believed we could do it. He believed in us more than we did at that moment. That moment was ‘our moment.’ I knew if we didn’t finish for that premiere we may have taken forever doubting, making changes and striving for perfection. We said to each other, ‘It’s time to put our big kid pants on and finish what I started years ago.’ We did! The premiere and release was a great success. The film has since had subsequent sold out screenings, been accepted and shown at numerous domestic and international film festivals and been screened at colleges and universities. We have so much confidence and drive we are working on two new projects this year to be completed in 2018. Jim has been a constant resource and source of encouragement. We are an Out On Film success story and proud of it.”
-Heather Provoncha of Mettle and Pluck Productions on Out On Film

Heather Provoncha of Mettle and Pluck Productions (Photo by Jon Dean)

“THEA has been an inspiring amazing and wonderful organization to my son and me. We have not experienced so much warmth and love at this difficult time in our lives – my son’s transition. THEA is brimming with friendly and loveable people who understand exactly what you are going through and are willing to go with you through the tough times. Attending THEA’s Family Symposium, listening to the knowledgeable speakers and being around such wonderful people made me understand a lot about my own child. This is bittersweet though because he is not accepted and understood. After meeting the people at THEA, I am overjoyed. My child has never been happier in his life. It brought tears to see my child involved in the activities with youth and young adults who are going through the same challenges. I had never seen him more comfortable with himself. Yes, he even did the dance … Electric Slide. My heart is overjoyed from the wonderful people that I have seen and met. Hope to meet again soon. Thanks the THEA, my child has hope.”
-Jennifer Barnwell on Transgender Health & Education Alliance

“Jerusalem House took faith in me, provided me with an incredible apartment in Stone Mountain. After 20 years of living in the same apartment on Buford Highway, my quiet, creative, productive life as I knew it to be came to a screeching halt in 2015 with a notice of new owners. So, I began looking for a new home. The apartments I found were too bad to live in, too expensive and too far away. With the help of my many friends, Jerusalem House was mentioned. I followed this advice, applied and was accepted into their Scattered Site program. I was so depressed, worried and confused as to what to do. The incredible people of Jerusalem House took me under their wing, gave me a new home where I could continue living my life as I had so many years before. Jerusalem gave me hope and love, which guided me into my new world. I say a million thanks and am blessed each day for the goodness of Jerusalem House and its many wonderful, caring people.”
-Ramon Parker on Jerusalem House

C. Emile Dacus (Courtesy photo)

“Before I joined the Real Youth organization, I was lost and confused with my sexuality, my faith and purpose in life. After attending two meetings facilitated by Mr. Darrell, I began to become more vocal in the open discussions. Mr. Darrell taught me to be comfortable with my sexuality and choice of religion. While participating in the open discussion on various topics like an ideal safe home for an LGBT member, I discovered my purpose. After graduation, I plan to become a social worker and community advocate for the LGBT community. In the short term, I would have never found my purpose and felt so uplifted and confident as a homosexual until I joined Real Youth.”
-Sidney Smith on Real Youth

“I had the pleasure of working with Georgia Equality as a Youth HIV Policy Adviser over two years ago. After meeting the staff and becoming informed on so many issues plaguing not only the LGBTQ community, but Georgia as a whole, I wanted to get more involved. Since then, I have gone on to continue my work in civic engagement, working as program coordinator for ProGeorgia, the state table organization that Georgia Equality introduced me to. I have found so much joy and fulfillment in working with this dynamic organization.”
-C. Emile Dacus on Georgia Equality

“The Health Initiative has improved my life and given me a chance to walk again by assisting me with paperwork, getting doctor connections and instructions for receiving a Grady card. I now have a new knee and could not be happier or more grateful to Linda Ellis and Darie Wolfson for being there for me all the way! Their tireless work at helping everyone live healthier, happier, more productive lives is a blessing, a priceless gift! They set a good example for all. They care and show LGBTQ people they matter and are never alone.”
-Anne “Sarge” Barr on The Health Initiative