Event looks to raise funds for center

OCEANSIDE — The We Are Family Harvey Milk Day celebration and fundraiser at the Oceanside Museum of Art on May 18 will help raise funds for North County LGBTQ Resource Center programs and day-to-day operations. 

Harvey Milk Day is the annual fundraiser date for the resource center because of the pioneering efforts San Francisco Supervisor Milk took to establish equal rights before he was fatally shot by an assassin.

“He was the first openly gay politician,” Max Disposti, founder and executive director of North County LGBTQ, said. “He was a pioneer in humanizing the community. We are still following his path and creating more community.”

This year’s We Are Family event will be upbeat, fun and informative, Disposti said.

“There will be dancing, food, the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus will perform — it will be so much fun,” Disposti said.

In addition to food, music and drink, keynote speaker John Duran, the mayor of West Hollywood, will talk about anti-discrimination measures to protect individuals with HIV and AIDS.

This year, more than 300 people are expected to attend the fundraiser.

The LGBTQ center on Coast Highway 101 opened in December 2011 thanks to funds raised at last year’s Harvey Milk Day celebration.

Since the center opened its focus has been on in-house programs.

“We have HIV testing every Wednesday, counseling, yoga classes, computer access for local youth, a lot of 12-step programs,” Disposti said.

The center currently offers eight different free support programs to help individuals recover from a range of addictions. Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning, or LGBTQ, community often fall into addictions because of low self-esteem, Disposti said.

The support programs are open to everyone in the community.

“Gay or straight, we want people to come here and feel comfortable and safe,” Disposti said.

The next step for the center is to provide additional outreach services to bridge understanding of the LGBTQ community. Police and hospital employees are two target groups for outreach training in order to help these service providers understand signs of domestic violence and rights to hospital visitations for LGBTQ community members.

For more information on the Harvey Milk Day fundraiser or LGBTQ Resource Center, visit ncresourececenter.org.

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