At our farm here in Vermont, we take pride in seeing our local community of neighbors and friends thrive, and among those neighbors are our friends at the Vermont Pride Center.
Since being founded in 1999, the Vermont Pride Center has evolved into the region’s most comprehensive community center dedicated to advancing community and the health and safety of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) Vermonters. The Pride Center’s programs and services strive to meet the distinct socio-economic, health, and safety needs of our LGBTQ+ community throughout all of Vermont.
To help drive those efforts, our Tata Harper family has donated a portion of our proceeds to the center for 3 years. With that contribution, we’ve been able to see the positive impacts of inclusion and community the center continues to instill.
“Tata Harper's pure generosity and willingness to support LGBTQ+ Vermonters is unparalleled. The relationship feels different with Tata Harper - there isn't a sense of 'well what's in it for us?' Not only that, but to then consistently come back and say, 'what more can we do?' - it's a refreshing experience." - Justin (they/them/theirs)
Our shared commitment to inclusion for all continues to inspire us, which is a value they’ve instilled since day one.
BUILDING THE COMMUNITY
Before becoming what the center is today in Burlington, Vermont, the founding group consisted solely of volunteers where they first worked from their kitchen table, answering phone calls and planning events for the LGBTQ+ community. At the start, there was the challenge of cultivating a sense of community in such a rural area. Because of the sprawling nature of each neighboring town, every queer Vermonter’s experience would look differently to other members that were a few towns away.
Knowing how much that unified connection meant to the queer community, the center used web and phone meetings to their full advantage to ensure their resources were reaching every corner of the county. With this extended reach, members were able to see their identity and needs reflected in their own community. Resources for safe healthcare providers and other supportive services also became available, allowing their members to not only feel safe and seen in their homes but in more public settings as well.
THEIR IMPACT TODAY
Today, the Vermont Pride Center offers a range of resources including social groups, inclusive events, and initiative-driven projects to continue to improve the strongest and earliest signs of Vermont’s LGBTQ+ rights — all while striving to meet the distinct socio-economic, health, and safety needs of the LGBTQ+ community.
Among their services, the center offers a drop-in resource center available to the public, community meeting spaces, a 3,000-volume lending library, their David Bohnett Cyber Center, additional social events, and the Vermont Queer Archives — a source dedicated to preserving Vermont’s unique LGBTQ+ history. And for health-related initiatives, their SafeSpace Anti-Violence Program offers a chat function featuring a line that can be called during open hours.
Offering this increased access to information and other resources for all their members has helped to further nurture that welcoming sense of community which all members benefit from.
VOICES FROM THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY
"I hadn't gotten involved with the Pride Center of Vermont until shortly after the pandemic started. All of the Zoom support groups and drop-ins have given me a chance to meet other community peers while also presenting some great chances to give back to the community as well!" - Rae Beecher (he/him)
"I feel grateful and lucky to be on my gender journey in Vermont, where people tend to be good-hearted. Being a non-binary human and presenting authentically in Vermont has been a lower stress experience, in part because I have several privileges including whiteness. Still, I needed and continue to depend on the Pride Center of Vermont. Thank you Vermonters and thank you Pride Center of Vermont." - S.H.
"Vermont has been in the forefront of advancing legal protection for LGBTQ+ people, including transgender folx. But when challenges arise, I reach out to the Pride Center of Vermont for support, education and advocacy. The staff and volunteers are kind, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic. The Pride Center is the heart and brains of the Vermont LGBTQ+ community." - NS (he/him)
"Being part of the LGBTQ+ community in Vermont hasn't always been easy. When I found the Pride Center of Vermont all of that changed. Not only was I able to be out and proud, but I was embraced by people making it easier to live authentically, and be free of fear and stigma. Without the Pride Center, I'd be a much less confident shadow of myself." - Jasmine DeLude (she/her)
THE POSITIVE CHANGES AHEAD
Every day, the center works towards innovative initiatives to further encourage and preserve an inclusive community. Recently, they’ve been working on providing virtual support for LGBTQ+ survivors of violence. They’ve also successfully been able to provide at-home HIV testing to ensure the health and safety of its members. And to best adapt to the ever-changing nature of post-pandemic life, they’ve planned to offer a livestream and in-person hybrid model for future events.
As their neighbors and friends, we’re filled with pride to be a part of their story of ongoing change and we look forward to seeing the positive impact the Vermont Pride Center continues to instill.