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From the Director
New Hours
The Audible Snap
OutCenter Events
Community Events
Support Groups
Volunteer Orientation
Sex Attitudes Survey
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Serving the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Ally Community in Southwest Michigan

Issue #3 |  March 2010 
From the Director 
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Thank you to everyone who joined us over the weekend for our Annual Report presentation.  It was great seeing so many of our supporters come together to celebrate our accomplishments and learn about the many new programs and events to come in the next year. 

The OutCenter looks forward to reaffirming our commitment to celebrating the diverse experiences of our community.  This month we are excited to invite you to a screening of the film black.womyn with the director/producer Tiona M. This documentary centers around conversations with black lesbian women sharing their personal stories and experiences.  I encourage everyone to attend this thought-provoking event.

Jennifer C. Hsu
Benton Harbor, MI 49022
Phone/Fax: 269.925.8330  |

New Hours
In order to best serve our community and increase our community outreach efforts the OutCenter will be observing new office hours effective March 1, 2010. 

Wednesday-Friday: 1pm-5pm.
Saturday: 10am-2pm


The Audible Snap
By Santiago N. Lopez

Image of snapping fingers 

(Given the Lenten season that those of us who call ourselves Christian find ourselves in right now, I thought it appropriate for me to share a speech I gave back on August 14, 2005 as a Brookview School staffer and a member of Brookview's Seeds of Tolerance Committee to introduce Brookview's Seeds of Tolerance Project to St. Joe's Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ


Reflections on the Theology of Diversity

By Santiago N. Lopez


Galatians 3, 26-29

"For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."


If I may, I'd like to share some thoughts with you from Bishop Joseph Perry, an African-American Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago.


Bishop Perry reminds us that as Paul stated in Galatians, the world consistently would divide us into opposing groups.  Considering the divisions, separations, casts and categories in the world, we are all summoned to a harmony that some cannot fathom.  Society would differentiate us as slave and free; male and female; Jew and Greek; black and white (and might I add - gay and straight).  But, Paul reminds us we are one in the Lord where such distinctions are of no value.  Christianity was one of the first communities to experiment with bringing people together in lived fellowship who were rich and poor; white and black, Jew and Gentile.  It was a novel thing to do - mixing people together - so unfamiliar to social standard that the infant faith was both admired and criticized.  Remaining faithful to this mixing of peoples has been our greatest challenge over the millennia for we who pledge ourselves to a faith in Jesus Christ.


An ethic of inclusion and sharing of space does not erase the natural distinctions which are our spice.  For some, only an erasure of distinctions in a melting-pot fashion will make life easier where all people are expected to subscribe to and adapt to what is deemed the dominant cultural pattern. It is supposed to be obvious to everyone which culture and which language are the norms.  Rather, it takes courage to step aside for legitimate differentiation to surface as gift to the community.  It takes every person to insure the dignity and comfort of every person and allow their contribution to nurture growth in the group.


Now Bishop Perry used some fancy language there, so let me restate his thoughts-

Being committed to the concept of inclusion and sharing space with those who are not the same of you - does not mean that everyone has to lose everything about them that makes them not the same as you - these things are the spice of life.  Some people may think that the best option is to erase everyone's differences and make people adapt or assimilate into what is thought of as the dominant way.  Make people all act the same way - speak the same language - look the same - you know "the melting pot concept".  But Bishop Perry says something which I believe strongly in:  "IT TAKES PROFOUND COURAGE FOR AN INDIVIDUAL TO STEP ASIDE FOR GOOD REASON AND EMBRACE THOSE THINGS THAT MAKE THAT PERSON DIFFERENT - THIS WILL THEN ALLOW THE INDIVIDUAL TO SURFACE AS A TRUE GIFT TO THE COMMUNITY."  It takes every one of us to make sure that every one of us is treated with dignity and allowed to feel comfortable - and when this happens - their contribution will nurture the growth of the community.


Let me go on and share some closing thoughts of Bishop Perry -

If there is no variety found in our private space; if there is no variety among our friends; if there is no variety in our churches, schools and places of work we are living insulated lives, lives of exclusion and we will never attain the oneness Christ so wanted for all of us, God's children...


...he said with an audible snap

Intrigue Counseling

OutCenter Events

black./womyn. film screening with director/producer Tiona M

Tuesday March 16, 2010 at Celebration Cinema (Benton Harbor, MI) doors open at 6:30pm film screening at 7:00pm.  Meet director/producer Tiona M after the film.

"The film focuses on the lives and views of lesbians of African descent living in the United States. The documentary is structured by interviews-"conversations"-the director had with each of the women. It features candid interviews with black lesbian women discussing coming out, sexuality and religion, love and relationships, marriage, patriarchy, visibility in media, discrimination and homophobia, activism, gender identity, Black lesbian youth and elders, balancing gender/race/sexuality, and, finally, what it means to call oneself a Black lesbian today. black./womyn.:conversations... is a piece that provokes honest, progressive dialogue and critical thinking among people in general-and Black lesbians in particular-about how Black lesbians are viewed and affected by society. black./womyn.:conversations... features interviews with close to 50 out, Black lesbians including Poet/Author Cheryl Clarke, Filmmaker/Activist Aishah Shahidah Simmons, Poet/Author Staceyann Chin, Filmmaker Michelle Parkerson, Artist Hanifah Walidah, Hip-Hop Duo KIN, and Author Fiona Zedde. Filmmaker Tiona M in attendance." (

11 2007 - 02

ALIVE Youth Group

Sundays, 7-9pm at the OutCenter. One of the guiding principles of promoting effective change is to provide youth with a safe and nurturing environment. Allies and LGBTQ Individuals Visualizing Equality (ALIVE) is a weekly youth group for youth 14-20 years old who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning and their allies.  Have fun, learn and make a difference in the community!

Community Events 
G2H2 - Guys & Gals Happy Hour

Wednesday, March 10, 5:30-9:00 p.m. at Santaniello's (2262 W. Glenlord Rd., Stevensville, MI).  G2H2 is a community social event that provides an LGBT-friendly venue in which all people are welcome to attend and meet other LGBT and allied community members. 

Support Groups

OutCenter Adult Support Group

Each Monday, from 7:00 to 9:00 the OutCenter. 

PFLAG St. Joseph/Berrien County

The second Sunday of every month, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. the local PFLAG chapter meets at the Berrien Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 4340 Lincoln Avenue, Saint Joseph. E-mail

Volunteer Orientation

OutCenter was started in 2003 through the hardwork of passionate and committed volunteers.  Today, we rely on the contributions of active volunteers to make our work possible.  Volunteers serve as group facilitators, front-office greeters, part-time librarians, event organizers, committee members and more.

Interested in volunteering?  Come join us for a one-hour orientation to learn how you can get more involved with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and ally community in southwest Michigan. 

We will be offering volunteer orientations the first Saturday of each month at noon here at the OutCenter.  RSVP required to

The next volunteer orientation will be taking place at noon, March 6 at the OutCenter.

Gay Male Sex Attitudes Survey

A team of researchers from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA are conducting a study to better understand the ever-changing gay community.

Volunteers are needed to complete a short survey about sexuality among gay and bisexual men and among same-sex couples. Participation takes about 15-25 minutes and is completely anonymous and voluntary. To participate, you must be at least 18 years old and a gay or bisexual man. CHANCE TO WIN!! 2 iPod Nanos and 4 $50 Visa Gift Cards! TO TAKE THE SURVEY, or for more information about the project or the researchers, please visit:
or contact us at:

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