As 2018 comes to an end, we here at Hagerstown Hopes have been reflecting on the last year and how far we’ve come as an organization. We have you and our community to thank for that – it’s sometimes hard to believe the progress that’s been made in our small town in recent years, let alone this year. It’s been an exciting, sometimes arduous journey, to bring services and resources to the LGBTQ community in Hagerstown and the surrounding areas, and we thank you for your support.
Our community center (the Hagerstown Hopes Hub) opened May 1st and ever since we’ve been working on finding ways to use our space to serve the community. We’re nearly ready to begin offering free HIV testing, provided by the health department, at the Hub. There have been a number of details to attend to – privacy, confidentiality, etc. – and we’ve made every effort to ensure that services provided, sponsored, or endorsed by Hopes are of high quality and will benefit the community.
Community is important to us, and we hope community is important to you, too. Over the past year we’ve held Nights Out at local restaurants to provide social opportunities to meet and network with other members of our community, family-friendly events, Nights Out to Dance at The Lodge, and our members have been consistently giving back to the community in countless ways. There are always ways to get involved, so please feel free to contact us or join us at one of our open meetings!
It’s been our pleasure to work with our local LGBTQ community, and we’re grateful that we’ve been embraced and supported by the larger Hagerstown community. Our Pride festival had nearly three thousand in attendance, we’ve formed a partnership with the local health department to provide healthcare resources, the police department created a position for an LGBTQ liaison officer, and the city issued proclamations for Transgender Day of Remembrance and World AIDS Day, which are now official annual events in the city of Hagerstown. And that’s just the beginning. We have more in the works that we will be bringing to you soon!
We’ve also been involved in advocacy and outreach. FreeState Justice paid us a visit to listen to our concerns about LGBTQ issues in Maryland in an open discussion with members of the community. This meeting helped inform FreeState Justice’s agenda for the coming year, and we thank everyone for participating. We’ve also had a group for trans, non-binary, and gender-expansive persons up and running since August and are raising funds to support the group. Recently we had the honor of participating in Transgender Day of Remembrance, now an official day of memorial in Hagerstown. We also crowned Butch Kelly and Chasity Vain as King and Queen of Hagerstown Pride 2019. The edition of a King of Pride is a step to represent the diversity of our community. The pageant was open to all, including cis-gender straight people, to represent Hagerstown Hopes in our events and outreach efforts. We looked forward to the contributions they bring!
We continue to advocate for all members of our community, especially our youth. We’ve met with local GSAs and are working to provide safe places and activities for them. Our youth group will be starting in the new year, so please stay tuned for details.
Hagerstown has been so supportive of us and it’s been an honor to work with community leaders to give back. We’ve worked with For Otis Sake, Washington Goes Purple, and Children in Need. We’re also beginning a new initiative, CARE (Community Action to Revitalize and Empower), led by Robert Medina, to build and strengthen the larger local community. Please like and follow us on Facebook or visit us at Hagerstownhopesmd.org to stay in the loop. Happy Holidays from all of us at Hagerstown Hopes!
- 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.