North and South

Equality Md. is back in Baltimore, while Richmond center marks its first decade

After five years housed in Silver Spring, Equality Maryland has returned to its “hometown,” Baltimore.

“The move back to Baltimore is a strategic one, part of our long-term plan,” says David Toth, executive director of the state’s primary GLBT-advocacy organization. “Baltimore is more the hub of Maryland, and there’s a great LGBT community up here.”

The new location, across from the M and T Bank Stadium, is in the same building housing the Maryland Association of Non-Profits at 1201 S Sharp St.

In other GLBT-related Maryland news, a Montgomery County state delegate, Saqib Ali, the first Muslim to serve in the Legislature, recently offered support for marriage equality, penning a column for the local Gazette.

“If I tried to enforce religion by law — as in a theocracy — I would be doing a disservice to both my  constituents and to my religion,” he wrote, in part.

Dan Furmansky, Equality Maryland’s former head, lauded Ali’s stand.

“It says a lot that an individual who represents a first for Maryland and broke down cultural barriers is willing to take a stand on bringing Maryland into the 21st century when it comes to LGBT civil rights,” says Furmansky.

Virginia is also getting ready for a GLBT milestone as the Gay Community Center of Richmond will celebrate its 10th anniversary starting in September. The celebration is to last a year, starting with a new exhibit in the GCCR gallery: photographs of tattoos of GCCR community members.

While the GCCR was created primarily as an organization that raised funds for local GLBT groups, it has since grown into a fully functioning community center that provides services for the community.

Moving from a fundraising entity to a bona fide community center was solidified in 2004 with the purchase of a new building to house the GCCR, a building which will soon boast a lecture-style classroom and drop-in Internet center.

“Our mission statement hasn’t changed,” says GCCR president Jay Squires. “What we do to accomplish it has. We’re tremendously proud, not just of what we’ve been able to accomplish, but of how much the community has supported us for nine, going on 10 years. We consider our property to be owned by every member of the GLBT community in central Virginia.”

For more about Equality Maryland, call 410-685-6567 or visit www.equalitymaryland.org. For the Gay Community Center of Richmond, call 804-353-8890 or visit www.gayrichmond.com

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