The Kansas City Center for Inclusion in Kansas City, MO

"A welcoming and safe place for LGBTQIA+ individuals"

The path to finding community can be filled with obstacles and hurdles, especially when your community already hangs on the fringes. The Kansas City Center for Inclusion is a haven for marginalized LGBTQIA+ people seeking a place where they can feel safe enough to just be themselves.

While there has been progress in the lives of the LGBTQIA+ community in the Midwest over the past few years, this area still has considerable room for improvement. A totally volunteer-run organization dedicated to making everyone feel welcome, safe, and a part of the community, the Kansas City Center for Inclusion doesn’t just provide referrals to resources — we make the first connection with them. We provide a safe and welcoming environment for our community, and work hard to help its members.

Stories About The Kansas City Center for Inclusion

Growing up in the Midwest, there are not a lot of opportunities for LGBTQIA+ youth to date, and most dating applications are for adults. Recognizing the need, the Kansas City Center for Inclusion annually hosts a queer prom. These proms are free, and they provide area LGBTQIA+ youth or straight allies the opportunity to mingle together in a safe, welcoming place. It is wonderful to see the local community rally together to support our youth. We hosted our third prom on May 4, 2018. This year’s prom featured a drag show, food and drinks, and a DJ, and over 135 youth attendees. We had representatives from several local youth-focused groups available, along with providing a parents-only room.

In the past, we have heard from attendees who have met significant others at these events. This year, one of our volunteers relayed a story. Two girls approached her to ask for some paper — these young (probably 15-years-old) youth wanted to swap telephone numbers. They go to different schools on the opposite sides of town, but had met while they were dancing. It was so cute to see that happen. We are glad to help break down some of the barriers that these youth have while being authentic.

The Kansas City Center for Inclusion is a community center, which means people often reach out to find information on various local resources. A few months back, a family stopped in looking for resources to support their transgender daughter.  The mother shared that their 7-year-old identified as a girl, but the local elementary school wouldn’t allow her to use the girl’s bathroom. Our Executive Director, Samantha, called and connected the mother to a local leader of a Trans Parent Support Group. While the mother was conversing with the group leader, Samantha escorted the little girl to another part of the building to play with some toys. As they were walking and holding hands, the little girl looked up and asked Samantha, “Are you a transgender girl?” Samantha, who is transgender, responded “Yes.” When this little girl heard this, her face immediately changed from worried and scared to happy and proud.

While this issue is still ongoing for this family, we were able to connect them with the right people to resolve it.

Imagine you were born in one of the dozens of countries around the world repressive of LGBTQIA+ individuals. All your life, you have had to hide the fact that you are gay or don’t fit in with others. You have had to make excuses for not having a significant other. You’ve had to hear sermons or radio broadcasts about how people who are gay are going to hell. But, as luck would have it, your application for enrollment at an American university was accepted. Soon, you’re on a flight to Kansas City to begin school. You arrive and, as you are getting acquainted with your roommate, school, and town, you find yourself feeling more free to express yourself. You can search on your computer for LGBTQIA+ community centers. You can download dating applications. You can finally wear that outfit you always wanted to you. In other words: You can be you.

What happens when you are done with school and have to go back home to this repressive country? What will happen to your partner or the friends you have made in the U.S.? How will you adjust to going back to living a constant lie? What happens if someone back home finds out? You may be ostracized, or, worse yet, put in prison!

In the past year, KCCI has helped shepherd two individuals in similar situations. We have facilitated introductions to immigration attorneys and other organizations focused on helping these individuals find a safe place. They reached out to us in their time of pain, loneliness, anxiety, and fear, and we helped them to overcome these feelings and become more comfortable being authentic.