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Another Florida City is Turning a Corner on Gay Inclusivity

Another Florida City is Turning a Corner on Gay Inclusivity

Another Florida City is Turning a Corner on Gay Inclusivity

St. Petersburg, Fla. is the new home of an LGBT welcome center, with offerings for both visitors and residents.

An old bungalow home on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, Fla. is now an LGBT welcome center — one of the few in the Sunshine State.

Community members raised the money to turn the 1920s-era home into a safe space for LGBT youth, residents, and tourists, according to The St. Petersburg Tribune. The 1,400-square-foot building was once slated for demoliton before the city's LGBT rights organization paid to save it and transplant it to its current location.

The welcome center is operated by Metro, which provides HIV testing, education, and support for LGBT residents. The welcome center is located next to the Metro Wellness thrift shop on land owned by the organization. The space will be used for fundraisers, youth events, LGBT sensitivity training for local businesses, and tourism information for gay travelers.

“Since I moved here, I’ve never felt unwelcomed anywhere,” Chris Rudisill, the community center services director for Metro, told The Tribune. “That’s a great thing to be proud of in your city.”

Businesses catering to LGBT locals and visitors have moved into the city center where the city's pride parade takes place every June, according to the paper.

“We had been talking for years about bringing in a visitor center to enhance the travel that was already happening here,” Brian Longstreth, a founder of the St. Pete Pride Festival, told The Times. “Many LGBT travelers are attracted to the arts and that’s obviously a big thing in St. Pete.”

With LGBT workplace and housing protections, St. Petersburg scored a perfect score on the Human Right Campaign's Municipal Equality Index, while nearby Tampa — angling for gay tourists now that marriage equality is coming to Florida — scored 97 percent. Tallahassee, the state capitol, scored a pretty lowly 81 percent.

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