OCEANSIDE, Calif. – After months of planning, fundraising and gathering community input, the North County LGBTQ Resource Center held its grand opening celebration on Sunday, Dec. 4.
Event organizers report that nearly 200 people attended the gathering, which included a VIP cocktail reception for the center’s board and supporters followed by an open house and holiday bazaar fundraiser in the space.
The idea for the center was originally envisioned by members of the North County LGBT Coalition, an organization that was founded in 2008 to bring together and advocate for the LGBT community in the northern communities of San Diego County.
The group organizes North County Pride @ the Beach!, an LGBT pride celebration held each October in Oceanside. Upon announcing that it would open the center this summer, the group also formally changed its name to the North County LGBTQ Resource Center to more accurately reflect its activities, which will focus on the operation of the center.
Max Disposti, executive director of the North County LGBTQ Resource Center, spoke to the crowd at the grand opening about how the center will serve as a resource not only for residents of North County, but for the large military community in the area.
“This is a place where our military personnel will come since we’re so close to Camp Pendleton,” Disposti said of the space, which is located just minutes away from the main gate of Camp Pendleton.
With the repeal of the military’s "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy taking effect Sept. 20, some say that the timing of the North County LGBTQ Resource Center’s opening is perfect.
Marine Lance Corporal Ashley Cardona told the Camp Pendleton Patch that the center will be a place for LGBT and questioning Marines to turn to for resources and support.
“It’s a place for people to come together,” Cardona said. “We don’t have anything like that for LGBT servicemembers.”
Dylan McTighe, a student a Palomar College, attended the grand opening and said he is pleased to have such a space in this part of the county.
“The resource center is important because this is the safest place to be who you are and not be harassed by people for expressing yourself,” McTighe said.
Besides serving as a place for members of the LGBT community to seek support and resources, the space will also host a series of programs, including group meetings, HIV testing, classes, youth services and art.
One such event is a youth open-mic night that has been scheduled for Friday, Jan. 13, from 5:30 to 8:30 pm at the nearby Oceanside Community Center, located at 330 North Coast Hwy. The program, which is for youth ages 19 and younger, will be a space for young people to share their poems, music, and other artistic forms of expression. Those who wish to participate should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disposti told Patch that requests from community groups to use the facility have been coming in and he believes that the space will be swiftly outgrown.
The North County LGBTQ Resource Center is located at 510 North Coast Highway in Oceanside.
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Left photo: North County LGBTQ Resource Center executive director Max Disposti addresses the crowd. Credit: JoyLynn Murray/Facebook.