Open books

Greater Dayton LGBT Center opens a new library of resources

Photo: Over 300 books have been donated to the Dayton LGBT Center

By Tim Walker

The Greater Dayton LGBT Center is an important local resource that has been working hard to help meet a variety of needs for the local LGBT community for over 40 years now. Soon, however, the center will expand its list of available services with the opening of a brand new library, which will make a variety of books on LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning) history and a variety of other interests available to the community. The center, which is located at 24 N. Jefferson St. in downtown Dayton, has been a positive force in the local gay community since the ’60s, providing support, education, and understanding along with any other resources that might be needed by its members.

“At the center, we have this new space,” says Jim McKinnon, board member, archivist, and historian for the Greater Dayton LGBT Center. “And we also have over 300 books that have recently been donated to us. An older couple that were relatively new to the Dayton area had been collecting books for quite some time, and they presented them to us, so we have a library of 300 titles right now. We have a wide variety of books that will be available—fiction, nonfiction, histories of the community, some gay erotica, and various other books on a wide variety of subjects.”

McKinnon has served as a board member for the LGBT Center since December of last year, and is proud that the center will soon be able to provide a new resource for its many members. “We’re really excited to be able to offer this service. The new library will be named after Leon Bey, the former board member who was active in getting the center started and getting it to where it is today. He was on the board for quite some time. He also worked at the Dayton Public Library, and he was very active here in Dayton until he passed away in 2014.”

In addition to providing a meeting place for various area groups and individuals, such as the Gatlyn Dame Group, a community-based service organization for transgender, non-conforming gender persons, and their allies, the center has also helped individuals in Dayton who have been ostracized by their families after sharing their sexual orientation. Last year a Northmont High School student received help finding a place to live when family members forced him to leave his home.

After using donated meeting space for many years, the center now has an actual brick-and-mortar location, enabling it to provide many different programming options for the local LGBTQ community. The center is now able to better provide support services, such as the community dinners the center hosts four times each year, all of which feature speakers. At the most recent dinner, on May 20, one of the board members, who is still in college, gave an address on positive things local youth can do to lend their support within the gay community.

The center is always in need of monetary donations, donations of books and other materials, and volunteer hours from interested individuals. Donations are tax deductible and easily arranged by contacting the center and speaking to Randy Phillips, current president of the LGBT Center.

“The hope is that, through donations, we’ll be able to offer a wide variety of books and periodicals,” McKinnon says. “My hope for the library is that it will be a place where people can come and learn about the history of the gay community in Dayton. We’d like to have books there that will give the background story of Stonewall, for example, or the AIDS memorial quilt. We’re going to work on that. That’s the hope,” McKinnon concludes.

A hope that will one day make Dayton a happier, more comfortable place for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation.

The Greater Dayton LGBT Center is located at 24 N. Jefferson St., Suite 200 in downtown Dayton. For more information, to volunteer, or to make a tax-deductible donation, please visit DaytonLGBTCenter.org or call 937.274.1776.

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Tim Walker
Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz, and black T-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at TimWalker@DaytonCityPaper.com

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