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.

A warm thank you

on Friday, 18 May 2018.

Thank you to our wonderful for community for supporting us yesterday! We will be taking the day to recuperate and gather ourselves to best serve our community! See you Tuesday!



Disability Network at Town Hall Meeting on Accessibility

on Tuesday, 15 May 2018. Posted in Safespace

Disability Network at Town Hall Meeting on Accessibility

Our LGBTQ+ People with Disabilities Network will be meeting at the Town Hall on Accessibility in Burlington this week! (Instead of at the Pride Center). The Town Hall is happening on Wednesday from 4:30-6 at the Dept of Public Works (645 Pine St.) in Burlington. Hope you can make it! enjoyburlington.com/event/accessibility-in-burlington

Congratulations Sunshine!

on Wednesday, 09 May 2018.

Congratulations Sunshine!

Congratulations Sunshine! In mid-June, Sunshine will be moving to Pittsburgh where he has been accepted to the Physician Assistant’s Program at Chatham University. After receiving his Masters Degree as a Physician Assistant, he intends to return to Vermont to provide trans-competent, size-positive health care. So, while we say good-bye for now, Sunshine, we also say, “See you soon!” We look forward to having you return to invest your energy and talent in your new role in service to the trans community of Vermont

During his time at the Pride Center, Sunshine’s leadership and commitment fueled an unparalleled growth of support for the health and well-being of the trans community at large. His intersectional approach to programming provided space for all members of our community, including those who identify as 20-somethings, nerds, fats, and femmes. Sunshine hosted events across the state, and gathered the masses for talent shows, hot cocoa meetups, board games, painting, and more. Sunshine launched our first ever Trans Day of Visibility Coffeehouse, drawing a group of nearly 100 community members and featuring over 15 trans and GNC Vermont artists. We’re going to miss that unique quality he has in bringing people together; he has a special way of engaging directly with community members that makes them feel included and want to participate.

The news of Sunshine’s career development presents another exciting opportunity right here at the Center. The Pride Center of Vermont is actively seeking a new community leader to carry on Sunshine’s great service to the trans community and build on this amazing foundation he established in the Center’s tradition of continued commitment to the support to all members of our larger LGBTQ family. To learn more or apply, click here.

Burly Bear presents Cosmos

on Monday, 07 May 2018. Posted in Events

Burly Bear presents Cosmos

This month Burly Bear is traveling beyond the stars to bring you the most stellar scene! We'll have Djs from all regions of the galaxy bringing you light speed sets! Join us at Red Square on May 25th from 8pm to 11pm in the blue(room) supernova! 

$5 cover/ Proceeds go to People with AIDS Coalition

Catarina Campbell on Brown 'n Out!

on Monday, 07 May 2018. Posted in Safespace

Catarina Campbell on Brown 'n Out!

Brown 'n Out is back! Check out Pride Center of Vermont's very fierce and amazing SafeSPace Director, Catarina Campbell.  This wonderful first episode of Season 2 features the briliant Catarina Campbell.

You can listen to it here: https://itunes.apple.com/…/p…/brownnout-podcast/id1341496119 

or here: https:/brownnout.podbean.com/e/coming-soon-brown-n-out-podcast/ 

@cat_alyst070 @brownnoutpodcast #lgbtq #poc #vermont #vt #brownnout #podcast

What's Up with the Ticket Prices?

on Tuesday, 24 April 2018. Posted in Events, Safespace

The Annual Benefit Pricing Explained

What's Up with the Ticket Prices?

A lot of folks have been wondering just what's up with our ticket pricing for this year's 20th Annual Community Celebration on May 18th at the Echo Center. The change in pricing is for two reasons. First, we really listened to community members who said that last year the benefit was too expensive. Also, in honor of this being our 20th Annual Celebration, we thought each ticket category could tell the story of the Center.

If you are a community member in need of ticket, please email josie@pridecentervt.org.

Here are the ticket prices and their meaning to the Center:

Party Like It's 1999! Help us celebrate the year we were founded with tickets that are $19.99.

Can't make the Event? Help a community member attend with a $25 ticket. 

The Fight Isn't Over Ticket for $29. 29% of people who came to SafeSpace this year did so as a result of hate violence or discrimination, reminding us that our fight against homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in Vermont is far from over.

Celebrate Health and Wellness with a $56 ticket. Our Health & Wellness program will have 56 GBT guys participate in a 2-hour session that will hone their skills on promoting sexual health, reducing HIV stigma, and increasing access to HIV testing, prevention, and care. These newly trained peer educators then disseminate this important information throughout our community, including those who are at highest risk for contracting HIV in Vermont.

Celebrate SafeSpace with a $98 ticket. 98 People have been trained in LGBTQ Sensitivity in the Vermont Department of Corrections and in the Vermont State Police thus far this year through our SafeSpace program.

Please use this link to purchase tickets. We hope to see at Echo on May 18th!

Prideability Episode 2 ft. Eli Clare

on Monday, 23 April 2018.

Prideability Episode 2 ft. Eli Clare

Hosts Paul Engels and David Frye, from the Pride Center, speaks with Eli Clare. Eli Clare is a poet, essayist and activist.

Prideability is a series focused on disabilities in the LGBTQ community. Hosts David Frye and Paul Engels address issues, concerns, and provide information that will help educate others on this topic in Vermont and across the country.

David Frye is the Disability Network Group Facilitator at the Pride Center of VT

Paul Engels is the producer of the show and a local activist.

Watch Episode:

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