“Being at the Center, it gives you a sense of community. People [understood] how I felt; they could relate to how I felt.”
While his family supported local teen Aaron Moorehead when he came out as transgender, he was still looking for something more—for a community, for kindred spirits to talk to about his discoveries about himself. And so in October, Aaron started attending Flux, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada’s transgender youth support group. “It’s a family there. … It’s nice having a place where I can go for that kind of support.”
The place is bustling on a Thursday, with a group of high schoolers poring over homework around a café table, a couple conversing over coffee nearby, almost every complimentary computer in the lounge being used and a steady stream of customers queuing up at Bronze Cafe for espresso and vegan treats. This must be the gathering place the Center envisioned—a vibrant, warm and welcoming space for support and socialization—when making its big move from a modest Commercial Center storefront to Downtown’s renovated Robert L. Forbuss Building.
The nonprofit cut the rainbow ribbon two years ago this week, and will commemorate the milestone with an April 4 “Homecoming” event showcasing its services and celebrating how they’ve thrived in the new facility on Maryland Parkway. Over the past year, the Center reports an 80 percent spike in annual group meeting attendance, a doubling in participation in its transgender and gender non-conforming programs and a 2,000-person increase in youth programming. The Centerpiece arts and culture series is still drawing crowds with documentary screenings and intriguing speakers, and officials say its latest job fair packed the house. The nonprofit has also developed new programming to better meet the needs of the Valley’s LGBTQ community, offering more diversified support groups, starting a course-for-credit partnership with UNLV and launching a new clothing-swap program for transgender clients, called Switch.
But more than specific services, many who come to the Center are looking for human connection and comfort. Senior and Transgender Programs Manager Holly Reese says the organization gets a handful of walk-ins and phone calls each day from parents of children who recently came out as LGBTQ, seeking guidance about how to support their loved ones.
“It’s a little challenging, because you have to race there after work and drive back, but it’s worth it,” Aaron’s father Rich says of bringing his son to Flux. “The Center has helped us understand that Aaron is not alone. ... It’s really helped Aaron figure out where he fits in the world.”