National Coming Out Day 2018

on Thursday, 11 October 2018.

By Johnny Chagnon

National Coming Out Day 2018

Today marks the 30th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, which celebrates the power of being able to openly and boldly proclaim our identity as an LGBTQ+ individual. For many of us, being able to comfortably live with the freedom to be and love ourselves for who we are is a vital step in becoming whole and healthy. Since the first NCOD in 1988, we have seen significant changes in the atmosphere surrounding individuality and some subcultures, which allows most of us a much easier path to follow once we come out.

While it is important to celebrate the successes we have accomplished in 30 years, it is equally important to acknowledge the disparities that still affect us. Privilege exists sparingly within the LGBTQ+ community, and issues that affect the general population such as racism, transphobia, bisexual erasure, HIV stigma, misogyny and more absolutely infiltrate every corner of our own community. If we are to be a family of LGBTQ+ people, we only succeed in getting better if we all advance together.

Stand up and proudly proclaim who you are. Take that first step to explore your feelings and your options. Reach out and find people you can relate to and may find support in. Step away from toxic people in your life and lean on those who lift you up. If you see someone who needs support, approach them and offer a hand. Educate yourself on issues that affect not only your own self, but those around us.

What will you do this “Coming Out” Day?


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

on Monday, 01 October 2018.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease.

Cancer is a major health problem that affects the well-being and survival of the U.S. population. One in four deaths in the United States is due to cancer, and the lifetime probability of being diagnosed with an invasive cancer is 44% for men and 38% for women. Because of the rapidly aging population, cancer incidence is expected to rise by 45% to 2.3 million new diagnoses per year by 2030. Approximately 75% of U.S. cancer deaths are linked to potentially avoidable lifestyle and environmental factors; thus, emphasis has been placed on primary prevention and early detection of cancer. U.S. federal and nonfederal agencies acknowledge the existence of cancer disparities related to gender, age, race, ethnic origin, income, social class, disability/ability, and geographic location, but little focus and money have been devoted to assessing and understanding differences in the cancer burden associated with sexual orientation and gender identity.

What we do know is that lesbian, gay, and bisexual women have a greater risk of breast cancer than other women. This is not because of their sexual orientation. Rather, it is linked to breast cancer risk factors that tend to be more common among women in our community. For example, LGB women may be more likely to never have children, or have them later in life. Lesbians also tend to have higher rates of obesity and alcohol use. All of these factors increase breast cancer risk.

At this time, data on the risk of breast cancer among transgender people is limited. If you are transgender, talk with a doctor about your breast cancer risk and which screening tests may be right for you. It is important to find a doctor who is sensitive to your needs, and to see a doctor on a regular basis.

At the end of the day, we recommend that if you got ‘em, screen ‘em.

To learn more about our cancer screening access and support, click here.

Josie Leavitt: Cover Story in Seven Days

on Wednesday, 19 September 2018. Posted in Events

Josie Leavitt: Cover Story in Seven Days

Our previous interim Executive Director and Development Director, Josie Leavitt, is featured on the cover of Seven Days for her upcoming comedy showcase: 'So This Happened'.

Excerpt from the Seven Days article below:

In the standup comedy classes she used to teach, Josie Leavitt imparted one key piece of advice to her students. Aside from tips on joke construction and timing, it's her most fundamental nugget of comic wisdom.

"I would tell them that you can have a bad day, and you can have a funny day," she says to Seven Days at the dining room table of her home in Charlotte. "But guess what? They're the same day."

The idea that it's possible, even essential, to find humor in life's most difficult moments is indispensable to the Vermont comedian's own voluminous body of work. Lately, the founder of the Vermont Comedy Divas and self-described "mother hen" of the local comedy scene has put that principle to its greatest test. Those bad, funny days are central to Leavitt's new one-woman show, "So This Happened," which takes place Thursday and Friday, September 20 and 21, at the Flynn MainStage in Burlington.

Early this year, Leavitt, 53, was diagnosed with breast cancer. From the outset, her prognosis was relatively good. The cancerous lump was detected early, before it could metastasize, and was completely removed. Her subsequent treatments, which included several rounds of chemo and radiation, reduced the likelihood of recurrence to minuscule numbers.

"I was lucky," she says.

That's true, perhaps in more ways than one, for a woman who excels at finding hilarity in hard times.

"A lot of my friends are comics," Leavitt says. "And they were like, 'I'm so sorry about the cancer. But fuck you for the material.'"

"I never begrudged her the material," says fellow Comedy Diva Tracie Spencer. "But we all knew she would get some out of it, which I was happy about."

Read the full article here: https://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/in-her-new-comedy-show-josie-leavitt-confronts-cancer/Content?oid=20696509

Pride Center is Hiring!

on Friday, 14 September 2018.

Join our Development and Communications Team!

Pride Center is Hiring!




Job Opening

Title: Communications and Development Director
Job Type: P/T Position, (20 hours/week)
Reports To: Executive Director

Pride Center of Vermont is currently seeking a part-time Communications and Development Director to oversee  Outreach, Events, and Fundraising Program. This position will work closely with the Executive Director and Board of Directors. 

Specific Responsibilities.

Strategically plan, evaluate, and improve Pride Center of Vermont’s annual events, fundraising plan, and communications in collaboration with the Executive Director, including:

  • Manage a portion of Pride Center of Vermont’s external communication including social media, blogs, newsletter, press releases, annual report, etc.
  • Oversight of the annual fundraising program, including special events and direct mail solicitations
  • Provide support and supervision to interns/work study students/volunteers in implementing the communications, events, and fundraising program
  • Research, cultivate relationships with, and solicit community resources, including major donors, businesses, corporations, towns, and individuals
  • Work with service groups and businesses to meet in-kind donation needs
  • Provide support for the fundraising activities of the Board of Directors, including serving as co-chair of the Fundraising Committee 
  • Oversight of the donor database and other fundraising resources

The ideal candidate will possess the following:

  • Experience with design and management of social media and other online and print materials
  • Experience in donor solicitation, community fundraising, and events coordination
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Experience in providing supervision is desired
  • Ability to connect with diverse groups within and beyond LGBTQ+ communities

Please send cover letter and resume by September 28th to:

mike@pridecentervt.org (please note “Development Search” in the subject line)

Pride Center of Vermont is an Equal Opportunity Employer and is committed to fostering diversity within its staff. Applications are encouraged from those with diverse backgrounds in regards to race, ethnicity, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, religious creed, medical/physical/mental condition, sexual orientation, veteran status, or age.

Vermont Pride Theater presents Trans Scripts

on Friday, 17 August 2018. Posted in Events

Vermont Pride Theater presents Trans Scripts

Vermont Pride Festival at Chandler presents Paul Lucas’ groundbreaking play Trans Scripts, Part I: The Women at the First Unitarian Universalist Society, 152 Pearl Street. The staged reading, in one act, will be followed by a talkback.

The play was given its world premiere at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (Scotland) in August 2015. That production featured the real stories of six transgender women in a ballet of colors and emotions. Each story deftly intertwined with the others, the actors baring their souls to present the experiences of the interviewees, as told in the interviewees’ own words. Of a subsequent Boston production, The Boston Herald wrote that this ground-breaking play presents “… a set of deep-rooted stories full of warmth and vulnerability that speaks to anyone en route to discovering their own identity.”

GET TICKETS HERE: https://www.chandler-arts.org/event/vermont-pride-theater-presents-trans-scripts/?instance_id=472

The Herald of Randolph described Vermont Pride Theater’s original production at Chandler last January as “…a stunning event, …celebrating the lives of these brave people who are part of our community….” Again directed by Cher Laston (Williamstown), the Burlington reprise includes Amy Engsholmen (Albany), Lily Fernald (Falmouth, ME), Elena Littlebug (Burlington), Susan Loynd (Fayston), Toni Maviki (Danbury, NH), Jeff Tolbert (Randolph), and Kim Ward (Montpelier),

For Trans Scripts, Part I: The Women Mr. Lucas conducted nearly four years of research, interviewing over 75 people of transgender experience. About the text to be featured in Burlington, he wrote: “Each of the [now] seven characters’ parts – with the exceptions of three or four monologues – is directly drawn from a single trans woman’s story and experience. However, choices about which stories to include were often influenced by patterns that surfaced persistently. If several interview subjects related a certain experience, I made an effort to include that experience in the text.” Mr. Lucas has now embarked on a similar multi-year interview project with trans men.

Farewell, Catarina!

on Thursday, 09 August 2018. Posted in Safespace

Farewell, Catarina!

Dear community,

It’s bittersweet as we say bon voyage and good luck to our incredible SafeSpace Director Catarina Campbell. Anyone who has been in Catarina’s presence knows the love, support and recognition she gifts to everyone she encounters, and understands the unwavering light and joy she brings to this world.

Through her guidance and leadership Catarina has transformed SafeSpace into a more intersectional, justice-focused anti-oppression program which centers liberation, radical self-care, affirmation, and love. She has touched the hearts and lives of all the survivors she has worked with, all of her coworkers, and endless community members.

We are better people and a better organization because of the generous time, energy, insight, support, empathy and compassion that Catarina has whole-heartedly shared with us. We send her so much gratitude, so much love, and all our best wishes as she embarks on her next journey to UVM’s Women’s Center.

Here’s a note from Catarina:

My heart holds abundant gratitude for the opportunity to care about and get to know the most dynamic, gifted, compassionate, and courageous people as they navigate some of the toughest times through my roles as Coordinator for Direct Services and as the SafeSpace Director. The palpable amount of love, community, and solidarity that exists at the Pride Center has helped me step into the world as a leader through the lens of my each of my identities. The opportunity to vision for a more empathetic world that operates relationally rather than systemically, that centers the experiences of communities who are most impacted, and that follows the lead of folks we serve has been nourishing and meaningful work.

I look forward to celebrating the continued efforts of the SafeSpace Program and am perpetually grateful for the incredibly gifted people who will continue to expand and manifest the reach of our mission on behalf of those we serve.

Thank you for the love and support I have received from our community and through this role. I am a better and more grateful person for having had the chance to care about and connect with each of you.


- Catarina

While we will miss Catarina immensely, we also know that there are many talented and compassionate people who have other gifts to share with our SafeSpace clients and community. If you or anyone you know are interested in joining our SafeSpace team-- please apply!! Check out the job posting here: http://pridecentervt.org/get-involved/employment-internship-opportunities and send your cover letter and resume to safespace@pridecentervt.org by August 26th. Thank you!

Prideability to Live Stream on August 23rd!

on Wednesday, 08 August 2018.

Prideability to Live Stream on August 23rd!
We are pleased to celebrate and share that Prideability will be on live stream thanks to the support of the Regional Educational Television Network! Thank you to David Frye and all the amazing community members who have been part of this project. We are grateful for each of you and can't wait to watch! 
On August 23rd you can tune in here: https://livestream.com/retn/prideability   
We are looking forward it it! 

Pride Center of Vermont Appoints Mike Bensel as Executive Director

on Thursday, 02 August 2018. Posted in Safespace

Pride Center of Vermont Appoints Mike Bensel as Executive Director
Burlington, VT.  Pride Center of Vermont is pleased to announce the appointment of Michael Bensel as Executive Director effective August 1, 2018.
Mike needs no introduction to friends and supporters of the Pride Center of Vermont.  As a student at the University of Vermont in 1999, Mike collaborated with one other UVM student to lead a series of focus groups which established the need for an LGBTQ center in Vermont.  These focus groups led to the formation of what is known today as the Pride Center of Vermont. As a founding board member, Mike spent 5 years serving on the Board of Directors. During his tenure, he was instrumental in securing funding to both hire the first Executive Director and rent the organization's first physical space.
Mike began his career in the non-profit sector at the Humane Society of Chittenden County and then as an Americorps* VISTA , working with with Outright Vermont and the Community Outreach Partnership Center (COPC).  He worked as a Victim Advocate at SafeSpace from 2002 to 2004, prior to SafeSpace becoming a Pride Center of Vermont program. After spending a few years in Florida, Mike found his way back to Vermont where he spent some time working outside of non-profits.  Thankfully, Mike just couldn't stay away. We were lucky to have him rejoin the center in 2011, first as Health and Wellness Coordinator and then as Director of Health and Wellness Programs.
"It is an immense honor to take on this new role, and together with the dedicated staff and board, contribute to the indispensable work of the Pride Center of Vermont.  With your help, I plan to lead this organization in a way that celebrates the history of this vital institution and moves us forward into a sustainable future. I want to hear from you, the community, how the center can best support the LGBTQ+ communities of Vermont. Please give me a call, invite me out for coffee, or stop by for a visit. My door is always open. " - Mike Bensel, Executive Director
"Mike's passion for this work has spanned decades.  He has been a consistent and grounding force for the center through some very tumultuous and uncertain times and his dedication to the LGBTQ+ community in Vermont is unwavering.  His energy and enthusiasm inspire me and I can't wait to see what is in store for Pride Center of Vermont under Mike's leadership." - Erin Sue Carroll, Board Co-Chair

Travis Miller is off to Grad School!

on Tuesday, 24 July 2018.

Travis Miller is off to Grad School!

Travis Miller is leaving the Health and Wellness program at Pride Center of Vermont to pursue a Master's Degree in Counseling at the University of Vermont. His last day will be August 24th. He will be greatly missed. Stay tuned for a 'Farewell Travis' Party this August where you'll have an opportunity to send him off in style. 

"I have been heavily involved with the Pride Center as a volunteer and staff member the past two years and I could not have asked for a more fulfilling experience as I move onto graduate school. I will carry my experiences and memories with fondness as I continue my journey into the next level of school. The Center has provided a wealth of opportunities which have prepared me for my next step and cannot wait to see the amazing work that will be done after I depart. Please consider helping the center in any way you can!"

-Travis Miller

Travis' departure leaves an opening on our Health and Wellness team. Please check out the job descritpion here:


Tell us your story!

on Wednesday, 11 July 2018. Posted in Events

Tell us your story!

Calling all trans and gender non-conforming Vermonters for a new special speaking project for Pride! On Friday, September 7th we will feature 5-7 minute stories from trans people around the state in a Moth Radio Hour style storytelling session. We will be featuring moments of trans validation & joy. Speakers will be paid a small speaking award, invited to a free dinner with each other & with trans event organizers, and will be given community-based housing if they want to stay the night and attend Pride festivities on Saturday, September 8. We are looking for a diversity of voices in regards to age, race, ethnicity, gender identity, stage of transition (or not), disability, veteran status, home town, and current location in Vermont.  

To submit a proposal, please email 1 paragraph about a moment of joy and/or validation in your life, along with a short bio, to trans@pridecentervt.org.

Proposals must be submitted by Tuesday, July 31st for consideration.

Recognizing Superstars: Dr. Rachel Inker

on Tuesday, 10 July 2018. Posted in Safespace

Recognizing Superstars: Dr. Rachel Inker

"Rachel Inker’s background has prepared her for working with people who struggle to access appropriate health care. An English major who graduated from Harvard in 1986, she wanted to travel, work, and explore the world, so she bought an around-the-world air ticket and spent eight months traveling in Europe and Asia, often alone. She spent five months in India, two of them working as a volunteer with an English doctor, whom she describes as “extraordinary,” in the street clinic he ran for Bangladeshi refugees. She also worked as a volunteer at a hospice run by Mother Theresa.

“I’d always thought about being a doctor, but this was the first time I’d met people for whom helping to relieve suffering was a calling, and it made a tremendous impression on me,” she says.

She went on to spend several years working in therapeutic outdoor and residential programs in New England and in several western states. “Working with struggling teenagers in the wilderness remains some of the best work I’ve done,” Inker recalls. “There is nothing more therapeutic than being outdoors, working as a team, and having to meet whatever challenges present themselves.” She hopes to do this kind of work again.

At the age of 30, Inker entered medical school in her home state and graduated in 1998 from the University of Massachusetts in Worcester. During her first year there, in 1994, she met Chris Brown, an architect and furniture maker, through a classmate who was dating his brother. They married when she graduated and moved to Burlington, Vermont, where she started her family practice residency at UVM. They have three children, twin 16-year-old girls and a 12-year-old son.

“Medical school and then residency was an incredible and demanding period of learning, challenge and growth,” Inker recalls. “Family medicine allowed me to provide care for people of all ages and also to use my experiences working in mental health.”

“I’ve always been moved and fascinated by people’s unique stories and experiences,” she adds. “From the time I was a kid, I enjoyed casual ‘interviews’ and began to appreciate how people lived very different lives than my own,” says the daughter of a lawyer and a social worker.

Board-certified in family medicine, Inker has been a family physician at the Community Health Centers of Burlington since 2001. She continues to be a per diem provider at UVM’s Urgent Care clinic and is a clinical instructor at UVM medical school.

Inker, a family practice physician, first learned about gender transition in 2004 working at the Community Health Centers of Burlington as a family practice physician. There she heard a presentation on trans men and women by a transgender educator. After the talk, the presenter invited anyone interested in transgender health care to be in touch since no one was providing care locally. Inker had no formal training in caring for transgender patients so she began researching existing protocols and networking with other providers locally and across the US. Many of these providers had begun serving transgender patients because of a growing grassroots movement that had taken hold in community health centers in large cities. Today, Dr. Inker is the lead medical provider at the Transgender Clinic affiliated with the Community Health Center of Burlington."

Read more at: http://www.vermontwoman.com/articles/2018/0618/03-Dr-Rachel-Inker/rachel-inker.html

HIV Testing Survey

on Wednesday, 27 June 2018.

HIV Testing Survey

Today is National HIV Testing Day! What better day than today for Pride Center of Vermont to launch a brief survey for gay, bi, trans, and/or queer men who have sex with men. Please help us improve access to HIV Testing to those at highest-risk in Vermont.


Remembering and Honoring Pulse Victims

on Tuesday, 12 June 2018. Posted in Safespace

Remembering and Honoring Pulse Victims

Today is the two-year mark of the Pulse nightclub shooting, a horrendous attack on the LGBTQ community. June 12, 2016, was “Latin Night,” and the murder and maiming targeted primarily Latinx LGBTQ people, killing 49 and wounding an additional 53. Their families of choice and origin continue to deal with their grief and their altered futures. We stand with those families and maintain that the lives taken and voices silenced by this atrocious act will not be erased, and that we will create a brighter future.

We at the Center have intentionally come together this afternoon to reflect together on this incident and to consider what actions we might take to enhance the unity and peace within our community, with particular attention and love for our QTPOC community. We ask that those who read these words take time today to do the same.

As we mourn the lives of those who were lost and harmed we encourage all to celebrate and uplift the lives and voices of our local QTPOC community. Reggie Condra’s podcast Brown 'n Out does just that and we are so grateful: https://brownnout.podbean.com/.

Response to Supreme Court Ruling

on Monday, 04 June 2018.

Response to Supreme Court Ruling

Today the Supreme Court ruled by a 7-2 margin in favor of the Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay male couple's wedding reception.

Although Justices Alito and Gorsuch signed a majority opinion upholding lesbian and gay equality and the Court has made it clear that it is responding only to the decision by the Colorado's Civil Right Commission, today's ruling chips away at a most basic American value. It is widely accepted that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 decided a core principle that is at the heart of how we treat one another: When a business open its doors to the public, it should be open to all.

Those who want to create a constitutional right to discriminate will use today's decision to undermine nondiscrimination protections in other states. In doing so, they will open the door to mistreatment and discrimination against a broad array of Americans.

It's also important to realize that, in more than half the country, our state laws do not explicitly protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination in stores and restaurants, in the workplace, or in housing. In fact, 60% of our states still lack those protections. Unfortunately, today's decision might be seen by some as an invitation to tell LGBTQ customers, "We don't serve your kind here."

We join with civil rights advocates, religious leaders, health organizations, labor groups, LGBTQ people and our friends, families and allies to ask that businesses openly declare that they oppose discrimination and that they are open to all .

It is time for Congress to pass the Equality Act to create one set of rules for everyone so that our laws catch up to our nation's values and protect all Americans from discrimination, so that no one can be fired from their job, denied a place to live, or turned away from a business simply because of who they are.

LGBTQIA Barriers to Healthcare Survey

on Friday, 01 June 2018.

LGBTQIA Barriers to Healthcare Survey

Calling all LGBTQIA people with breasts and/or a cervix! We want to hear from YOU about your experiences in accessing breast and cervical care. This short survey will take about 10 minutes (or less) and after completing the survey you can enter to win one of FOUR (4) $25 gift cards to Amazon OR one of FIVE (5) $20 gift card(s) to Hannaford Supermarket.

Click here to take the survey: https://bit.ly/2HbFeqT

The Pride Center of Vermont is teaming up with the Vermont Department of Health to assess health disparities among our LGBTQIA community, more specifically focusing on breast and cervical cancer screenings. If you have any questions about the survey or would like more information, please contact Taylor at taylor@pridecentervt.org.

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