By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The first nonprofit agency in the state to provide Gender Diverse/LGBTQ health services will open its new facility on Monday, February 12 in Oklahoma City. The Diversity Center of Oklahoma, located at 2242 N.W. 39th Street, will host an Open House from 6 – 9 p.m. with a special Ribbon Cutting Ceremony in honor of Brooklyn BreYanna Stevenson at 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served following the ceremony. The event is open to the public.
Brooklyn, a 31 year old Black transgender woman, was found brutally murdered in Oklahoma City on November 27th.making her the 25th known transgender person killed in 2017, the most on record.
According to a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Trans People of Color Coalition report 84 percent of the victims were people of color and 80 percent were women.
Kelley Blair, CEO and executive director of the Diversity Center of Oklahoma said, “We would like to start Valentine’s week off by inviting the public to come and see the amazing labor of love contributed by so many community members.
According to Blair the Diversity Center of Oklahoma, comprised of LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual) professionals and allies, it is the first and only non-profit agency in the state to provide direct behavioral health services to Gender Diverse/LGBTQ communities and their families, as well as other disenfranchised and marginalized people of color.
“We will be dedicating our multipurpose room in Brooklyn’s remembrance,” said Blair. “Her mother and family members will be in attendance.”
Blair points out that Transgender women of color have the highest rate of murder in the world. In addition due to stigma and other related issues, “People of color access less resources or services related to sexual orientation or gender identity, related to cultural barriers,” she added.
“It is the Diversity Center of Oklahoma’s hope along with the Stevenson family through the ‘Brooklyn Room’, that more people of color will seek gender diverse/LGBTQ services,” Blair said. “It is our goal to have educational workshops and training for the community, as well as a safe communal place for people to gather for celebrations and other local events.”
The new 5,400 square foot facility is a step up from their original two office unit “We are expanding our services to include primary health care, which will also be a first to our community,” Blair said.
The Center has subleased the additional office space to other LGBTQ agencies to provide wrap around services, which will include: Diversity Behavioral Health; Diversity Family Health (primary healthcare, including transgender healthcare; Guiding Right (HIV/Aids Testing Services),;Mosaic Midwifery; Perfect Pitch (voice specialist to assist with voice modulation- especially helpful with our transgender clients); OKC Pride; and Be the Change (LGBTQ homeless youth program).
The Center will be open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., evening and weekends by appointment only. For more information, call 405-252-0372 or visit www.diversitycenterofoklahoma.org