By: Rye Spooner
For many queer youth in the Bay Area, San Francisco is a central hub for pride. However, the further down the bay you go, it seems like there’s less and less of the rainbow explosion that SF ignites. The San Mateo County Pride Center aims to be the light in the dark for queer people of all ages on the peninsula.
Located in San Mateo, near Central Park along El Camino Real, the Pride Center offers numerous resources for the LGBT Community, including people who are questioning and are allies, and aim to give LGBT people a space of their own where they can feel safe and supported. They meet the goal by providing clinical services, a community space where support groups and workshops are held, but they also have simple things like a computer lab and library. “It’s really a happy place, where there’s so much you can do and you can feel okay to be yourself,” said Hayden Navarro, a d.tech senior who volunteered at the center over the summer.
Lisa Putkey, the program director of the Pride Center said, “I grew up in San Bruno, and I never had any connections to the (LGBT) community that I wanted. I always had to go to San Francisco … LGBT people are at a higher risk of mental health issues because of the challenges and discrimination we face as a community, so there was a need for that support…we want to create a stronger, healthier and more vibrant LGBT community in the Bay Area.”
The staff encourages anyone, especially teens, to just come and hang out at The Pride Center. They want The Pride Center to be a resource that provides comfort, and a supportive community for all Bay Area LGBT, so they hold a number of events and meetings for people of all ages, from community events (like movie nights!), to job networking and mental health services. They also hold a number of different support groups and activities designed specifically for teens and young adults, like craft afternoons (crafternoons). The Pride Center even held the first ever queer prom in San Mateo county this summer.
The Pride center is still establishing itself in the community, so if you want to get involved, or check out upcoming events, you can visit http://sanmateopride.org/, follow them on Instagram @sanmateopride, Facebook at San Mateo County Pride Center, and view some of the informational flyers attached below. The center’s address is 1021 S El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA 94402.