May 13, 2011

Stonewalled: Center rebuffs queers seeking sunshine.

On April 5th, Queers for an Open LGBT Center wrote to the board to ask for an update on their progress -- and some accountability to community members engaged in this issue, in the form of a meeting with the board. No dice. A week later, board chair Mario Palumbo referred us to staff as the administrators of the old policies still in place, said they were working on it, and shut the door.

It's worth noting that the Center's "community forum" was heavily attended by long-time organizers from many corners of the queer community. The Queers for an Open LGBT Center letter is signed by some of them. Others, including many groups of queers of color, have made their own contact with the Center. The Center's refusal to meet because "more people might also want meetings" is seriously bad behavior for stewards of a community space. Queers who are organizing are the Center's constituency, and must be at the heart of this discussion, if it's honest. The Center board's odd, ahistoric removal from queer organizing is clearly part of the problem.

Here's the thread:

From: Mario Palumbo []
Sent: Monday, April 11, 2011 3:53 PM
To: William Dobbs
Cc: Glennda Testone; Ann Northrop; Steve Ault
Subject: Re: >>>for Mario Palumbo 
Dear Bill, 
Thank you for your email. We appreciate your recognition of the
extensive amount of time and energy Center staff and board have
invested in this process, including continuing to meet with
community groups and members on this issue each day since the forum. We
look forward to sharing our process and timeline for the review of
our space-use guidelines once completed.
As Executive Director, Glennda represents the organization in meeting with groups on the issue of our space guidelines. Glennda and relevant staff members would be happy to meet with your group. We would love to hear your input. While the board has been kept apprised of Glennda's and the staff's activities and meetings, the board has not held meetings with individual groups. We are designing a process that will provide ample opportunity for community input into the revised policies, which the board will ultimately approve. The board will not meet with individual groups outside this process. Such a meeting could be seen as unfair by other stakeholders who may have different points of view and who will also want individual audiences with the board.  
In addition to the avenues already in place for the community to provide feedback to the Center, we are exploring additional vehicles which will provide community members a regular opportunity to communicate concerns and meet with representatives of the Center in the future.
We are taking this issue and process very seriously while at the same time maintaining our focus on serving the daily needs of the Center's users. We very much want to hear from you and all community members who care deeply about the Center and this issue. We look forward to doing so as part of this process and sooner, if you choose, in a meeting with Glennda and her staff. She is copied on this email. Please feel free to contact her to schedule a mutually convenient time.

Thank you,

On Apr 5, 2011, at 8:27 AM, "William Dobbs" wrote:

Dear Mario--

It’s good to hear from Glennda Testone that the Center Board and
Administration are engaged in a serious process of examining the Center's
room rental policies and community access to Board meetings.

As part of that process, we would appreciate the opportunity to meet with
the full Board to provide some information and discuss these important
issues. It was good to see you and Tom Kirdahy in attendance at the March 13
Community Forum but there's an ongoing need for a conversation between us,
as longtime users and supporters of the Center, and the full Board.

Please email Steve Ault (you may recognize his name as a founding board
member) and Ann Northrop to
arrange a mutually agreeable meeting time.

We would like to hear back from you by Monday afternoon, April 11.

Please share this memo with board members whose email addresses we don't

Thank you.

Bill Dobbs
Lisa Duggan
Leslie Cagan
Steve Ault
Pauline Park
John Francis Mulligan
Shawn Jain
Emmaia Gelman
Andy Humm
Bob Lederer
Ann Northrop
Scott Long
On behalf of Queers for An Open LGBT Center

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