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Some claim San Diego's LGBT Center is "off-center" when it comes to the black community

San Diego's LGBT Center is "off-center" when it comes to the black community.
Photo credit:
Nicole Murrary-Ramirez

The San Diego LGBT Community Center (The Center) held a Town Hall for the Black LGBTQ Community on Thursday and reports from attendees say some black leaders and activists reflected on how they felt the organization mistreated, disrespected and made them feel overall unwelcome in the past. 

A few black elders accused the Center of racism, something they claim has been going on since the '70s.

Others said because they don't feel welcome, they just don't go. They also chastised The Center for its lack of black leadership and staff.

Caroline (Cara) Dessert, the new executive director since the retirement of Dr. Delores Jacobs last year, was present and listened as some speakers got very emotional about their experiences at The Center. Dessert is a queer Latina. 

One of the biggest ovations from the crowd came when an African American lesbian stood up and boldly stated ''The Center is definitely off-center" and then sat down; the room filled with applause.

The community has noticed dozens of longtime employees leaving the organization in the past few months for unspecified reasons. 

City Commissioner Nicole Murray-Ramirez, a long-time Latino and gay activist who was invited and attended Thursday's meeting was so moved by the testimonies that he sent a proposal to Dessert to change the name of his "Nicole Murray-Ramirez Latino Services" to the "Nicole M. Ramirez - Vertez Burks All People of Color Services" at The Center. 

Murray-Ramirez told San Diego Gay and Lesbian News that the meeting brought up issues that the Center needed to hear. 

"Last night's LGBT Black Town Hall has to be a wake-up call that all is not well with the Center and the LGBTQ community," said Murray-Ramirez. "While it was painful for me to hear the pain and anguish of our LGBTQ black community, I was very proud that well over a hundred people showed up and many of them spoke. I must also commend the Center for holding this long-overdue meeting."

San Diego Gay and Lesbian News reached out to The Center for comment and they have yet to respond.