It’s been a busy month at Hagerstown Hopes! We’re happy to say that Golden Girls Drag Bingo, a fundraising event in partnership with For Otis Sake sold out, raising substantial funds for both our organizations. Everybody had a great time and our special Golden Girls performers put on a memorable and crowd-pleasing show. You can look forward to more drag bingo events from Hagerstown Hopes and For Otis Sake in the future!
We’ve also been working to support our transgender community. On November 20th we participated in the Transgender Day of Remembrance, held in downtown Hagerstown to remember those in the trans community we’ve lost to violence in the past year. Violence against the trans community has been on the rise in recent years and we want to publicly show our support for our trans, non-binary, and gender expansive family. Our Trans Group is also up and running and provides a safe, affirming place for our trans, non-binary, and gender expansive community to meet and socialize. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Over the last few weeks we’ve been reaching out to local GSAs in our public schools. Several of our members recently attended a GSA meeting to talk about transgender issues, including what it’s like to be a trans person, how transitioning works, and the healthcare challenges that continue to be a barrier for those in our community. Our hope is to provide education and support for our youth who may be exploring their gender identity and expression, as well as to those who would like to learn to be an ally to our community.
Our local community has been very supportive of us, and we would like to thank those involved for their continued support. After receiving a low rating in the HRC Municipality Equality Index, we met with Paul Kifer, chief of police, to discuss ways we can get a more accurate assessment next year. Kifer, a true ally, told us he had already begun the process of creating an LGBTQ officer liaison position. We are happy to have Lt. Rebecca Fetchu serving as our LGBTQ liaison. Fetchu, who has helped us with Pride and other events in the past, attended our open meeting to introduce herself and voice her, and the police department’s, support of our community. We look forward to working together to make Hagerstown a safer, better place for all its residents.
The city has also shown its support. On November 20th the mayor proclaimed Transgender Day of Remembrance as a recognized day of remembrance in Hagerstown. Then, on November 27th, the mayor will be proclaiming World AIDS Day (December 1st) as a recognized day of awareness. We thank all our community leaders (and countless residents) for their support. There’s a lot of work to be done, and we’re glad that we’re not in this alone.
We’ve also partnered with the health department to provide free HIV testing at our community center. The health department, which has a team of medical professionals dedicated to LGBTQ healthcare needs, will be meeting with us soon to go over finishing details to ensure the safety and anonymity of those seeking testing. We expect to have the program up and running very soon, and we look forward to working with the health department to provide the services and care our community needs.
Our Youth Program is also nearly ready to begin. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into ensuring the program will run smoothly and be beneficial to the young people in our community. Look for announcements on Facebook!
Mark your calendars for the 2019 King and Queen of Hagerstown Pride Pageant (November 20th) and the Snow Ball Christmas Show & Silent Auction (December 21st), both at The Lodge.
For more information, or to make a donation, visit us at Hagerstownhopesmd.org or like and follow us on Facebook. See you soon!
- Brian George Hose has been an advocate for LGBTQ persons and issues all his adult life. He holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Shepherd University and looks forward to pursuing a Master's of Social Work with a focus in mental health. A former musician, Brian served as minister of music for New Light MCC for several years and incorporates music into social work practice. He lives in rural Western Maryland where he has amassed a sinful number of books, yarn, and books about yarn. He has been writing for Baltimore Out Loud since February 2016.