After 25 years of serving the community, Out Boulder County (OBC), a direct service, empowerment, and advocacy group for LGBTQ families, opened the Equality Center of the Rocky Mountains in April 2022. The move from a small house to a three-story center meant a boom in programming, according to deputy director Bruce Parker, including casual social gatherings, such as ukulele lessons and morning yoga, to their offerings.
OBC’s weekly youth groups provide a social and educational space for kids and allies ages 11 to 18 to connect over supportive discussions, games, movies, and art. The center also offers gender-affirming clothing and chest binders, plus bus passes for those who need transportation assistance.
LGBTQ parents can gather in a monthly clinician-led support/community group, which also often meets for family-friendly social activities. The SoFFA group (significant others, friends, families and allies of trans people) is mainly attended by parents of transgender and gender expansive children. OBC has also recently added a group for Spanish speaking parents of LGBTQ kids, which is facilitated by licensed therapists from the Umbrella Collective.
“Parents, in particular, have an ability to impact legislators and opinion leaders, and change minds,” Parker says. “Any movement toward justice and equality for LGBTQ people really relies on families and their parents to be a part of that, to make sure that we as LGBTQ people are healthy enough to face a world that’s not always friendly or accepting.”
OBC responds to struggles in the community with programs like The Point, or El Puente, which provides uninsured or income qualified adults, regardless of documentation status, with immediate mental health support and referrals to culturally competent services. The center also worked with Boulder County Public Health to conduct COVID-19 vaccine equity clinics, through which they served more than 30,000 people, and provided more than $27,000 in direct aid to families who suffered losses from the Marshall fire.
For Pride Month, OBC is hosting a series of free events spanning Boulder County starting on June 6, and wrapping up with the Longmont Pride Festival on June 11 and Boulder Pride Festival on June 12. A recently-hired QTPOC (queer/trans people of color) coordinator is also working on reaching queer folks of color and invite them into health and nature-focused programming. Youth are invited to free community events including a pool party in July, and those ages 13 to 18 can apply for paid internships through the summer and into the fall.
How to help
Volunteer for a desk shift, center cleaning crew, and event or youth group assistance. Parker encourages parents to bring their children along for a shift at the family-friendly center. New helpers are required to take a training session (Spanish translation provided) that covers the logistics of the center and a basic understanding of LGBTQ concepts and etiquette.