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Rainbow Youth Center dream comes true

LGBT open house held in Durango

Just one month after lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender kids called for an LGBT center in Durango, they’re getting their wish.

The first meeting of the Four Corners Rainbow Youth Center took place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday in the boiler room of the Powerhouse Science Center.

Sarah St. John, a Durango High School guidance counselor and one of the organizing forces behind the Rainbow Youth Center, said ahead of the open house that she was “thrilled and excited about (Tuesday night).”

The open house marks a huge, if unexpectedly quick, victory for LGBT youths seeking encouragement, solidarity and support in Durango.

When St. John first approached The Durango Herald about starting the Rainbow Youth Center in late May, she was afraid that publicly campaigning for the center in Durango might spur a backlash from a town that might not be ready to extend itself to LGBT youths.

But in the weeks since the Herald published a front-page article that focused on the need for an LGBT youth center, St. John has experienced the opposite: From Durango residents, she’s received a succession of help, hugs and heartwarming affirmations of the work the center is trying to achieve.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” St. John said.

“It’s all happened so fast.”

Community support for the Rainbow Youth Center has been overwhelming, she said.

Within hours of starting a Facebook page Monday night, St. John said “it’s already gotten 200 likes.”

Though still in search of a permanent physical home – where LGBT students can congregate, study and ask questions for a few hours twice a week after school – St. John said kids’ dream for the Rainbow Youth Center is on its way to becoming a material reality.

Four Corners Alliance for Diversity has offered its full backing, coming forward to assist the nascent Rainbow Youth Center with grant applications and becoming a 501(c)(3) in its own right.

People have reached out to St. John, asking how they can give money to secure a downtown space that might serve as an after-school drop-in center for LGBT students once school starts.

For now, St. John and Rainbow Youth Center co-founder Jennifer Stucka were focused on Tuesday night’s open house at the Powerhouse.

“Volunteers and parents can get information, there will be food and drinks, students can meet-and-greet each other – and mostly, we’re just looking forward to planning more events going forward,” St. John said.

cmcallister@durangoherald.com

Aug 4, 2021
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