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    Why I Chose to Serve on the Board of the SF LGBT Center

    By Maceo Persson–

    Nineteen years ago, attending high school in Orange County, I was horrified by the overwhelming majority of “Yes on 22” signs in my community promoting a ban on same-sex marriage. So, I mobilized my friends to talk to people one-on-one and started building the support necessary to eventually strike down the ban in 2008.

    But my career as an LGBTQ+ activist was just getting started. I moved to Eugene, Oregon, for college, where I met a transgender man for the first time and realized that transitioning was an option for me. As I become more active in the local trans community, I saw the toll that homelessness, employment discrimination, lack of access to healthcare, and challenges with legal documents were taking on my new community. My friends and I began meeting weekly to organize support for a local gender nondiscrimination ordinance. But eventually the ordinance faced a public vote, and polling data showed that the majority of our community was not yet on our side.

    Our movement had not yet invested enough in the work and leaders necessary to move trans justice. That was the first time I understood the importance of people power and building LGBTQ+ movements informed by trans and POC leaders.

    I took these lessons with me as I served as a Field Organizer for Basic Rights Oregon and then as Operations Manager at the Transgender Law Center, where I began collaborating with the SF LGBT Center.

    It was easy for me to say yes when I was invited to join the SF LGBT Center’s Board of Directors. No matter where I was—Orange County, Eugene, San Francisco—I’d always sought out a place to gather with my peers. And here in San Francisco, the Center is that hub. On top of that, the Center was home to some of the first employment, housing, and financial programs for trans people in the entire country, filling the gap I’d first discovered as a young college student.

    As a board member, I’ve been able to get to know the Center’s staff and to watch the organization grow and shift to meet the changing needs of our community. The work that we are doing to support LGBTQ+ people of color, trans folks, and low-income community members has been critical in the face of the city’s affordability and homelessness crises, and has quickly adjusted to meet the changing needs of the community as we face a new pandemic.

    I’ve also seen how monthly donations allow the Center to plan ahead and make every dollar go as far as possible. That is why I give monthly as a sustainer. I know that together we can create the spaces and resources we need to thrive. Please consider joining me in my support of the Center and our community: https://give.sfcenter.org/fall-gift

    Maceo Persson is a member of the SF LGBT Center Board of Directors and is the Director of Communications and External Affairs for San Francisco’s Office of Transgender Initiatives.

    Published on September 24, 2020