Mission: Affirmations is an evolving community center where all who gather are embraced and are free to be their authentic selves.
Vision: Affirmations provides a welcoming space where people of all sexual orientations, gender identities & expressions, and cultures can find support and unconditional acceptance, and where they can learn, grow, socialize and have fun.
Affirmations strives to create an atmosphere of safety and acceptance for all people. Our focus is on helping lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies find and develop community where we value and respect ourselves and others.
Affirmations philosophy promotes the principle of empowerment and educates volunteers to utilize strength-based and holistic approaches.
1989. Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center was formed During our first two years of operation, the organization was run entirely by volunteers. Originally known simply as the "switchboard," the first service offered to the LGBT community was a toll-free Helpline for information and referral, 1-800-398-GAYS (4297), which still exists today.
1994. The Youth Services Program experienced tremendous growth and was able to meet community needs, due in large part to the estate of the late Carl Rippenberger, who left a $150,000 donation to Affirmations. By the end of 1995, youth services accounted for 50% of Affirmations' staff and 35% of the center's usable space.
2000. Leslie Thompson became the center's current Executive Director, and was charged with re-vitalizing the organization.
2001. The Board of Directors decided to move forward with a feasibility study to determine the capacity of the local community to support the building of a new home for Affirmations.
2002. Health Services Program was launched, providing information and resources on the health disparities faced by LGBT people and included weight reduction and smoking cessation classes.
2003. After a positive outcome on the feasibility study, the Board of Directors voted to move forward with plans to build a new community center. Launched on Valentine's Day, Affirmations created a Domestic Partnership Registry. Later, in collaboration with Blue Cross / Blue Shield of Michigan, Affirmations' DP Registry was used to offer healthcare benefits to partners of employees with this insurance plan. Later that year, the award-winning group, Coming Out Over Coffee, developed and quickly gained a successful reputation.
2004. Older Adult and Community Outreach programs were developed at Affirmations. Photographic journal called The Heritage Project created to celebrate and share the stories of our LGBT elders.
2006. Capital campaign fundraising goal of $5.3 million successfully met with the help of landmark contributions from all of the "Big 3" automotive companies. Affirmations launched two new programs: Civic Engagement and Social & Recreation.
2007. Affirmations moved into its new, 17,000 square foot building, re-opening for business on April 9th. The new building design included environmentally-friendly features, cyber cafe with 15 public access computers and free wireless internet, beautiful 2-story art gallery, outdoor rooftop sky deck and library & media center.
Affirmations offers an array of programs and services for people along the entire continuum of sexual orientation and gender identity. Our programs are created and provided on an as-needed basis, and supported by community participation. We are constantly evolving our programs to better suit community needs!
Our Youth Services are based on the nationally-acclaimed model called High/Scope which considers the social, cognitive, and emotional needs of young people. All youth programs and projects provide a safe, drug- and alcohol-free, adult-supervised space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and allied youth and are known nationally for their quality of programming.
The list includes physicians, counselors, chiropractors and other health care professionals that adhere to a policy of inclusiveness. Those that appear on our referral list have agreed to abide by our Community Standards of Practice - a comprehensive "check list" of items to ensure the level of understanding and sensitivity to LGBT issues are met.
We offers a variety of support and discussion on a range of topics, from coming out of the closet to life as an older LGBT person. Most groups meet weekly and are facilitated by an Affirmations volunteer who has completed our facilitator training.
A.L.O.R.D.E. Collective: African American Lesbians Organized to Renew Dignity and Empowerment. For more information: (313) 865-2170 ext.4
Karibu House http://www.karibuhouse.org/ Karibu House is a non-profit, multi-service community center that exists to promote the positive mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being and identities for lesbians, gay men, bi-attracted, and transgender (LGBT) persons of color.
Kick Agency Agency for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender African-Americans, provides advocacy, fosters and encourages self-expression, identification, validation, empowerment and liberation for all members of a diverse and inclusive community.
Horizons Project http://dmc.org/ The Horizons Project is dedicated to providing HIV prevention and outreach for at risk youth and direct care services to HIV positive teens and young adults ages 13-24. Horizons Project, 3127 East Canfield (Corner of Canfield and McDougall), Detroit, MI 48237, 313.924.9486
In preliminary data, the Gender, Violence, and Resource Access Survey of trans and intersex individuals found 50% of respondents had been raped or assaulted by a romantic partner, though only 62% of those raped or assaulted identified themselves as survivors of domestic violence when explicitly asked.
Current studies have shown that same gender relationship abuse occurs at the same rate or more often than heterosexual abuse.
Abuse is always the responsibility of the abuser and is always a choice.
Victims are often blamed for the abuse by partners, and sometimes even family, friends and professionals can excuse or minimize the abusive behavior.
It is difficult for victims to leave abusive relationships.
Abuse is not an acceptable or healthy way to solve difficulties in relationships, regardless of orientation.
Victims feels responsible for their partner's violence and their partner's emotional state, hoping to prevent further violence.
Abuse usually worsens over time.
The abuser is often apologetic after abusing, giving false hope that the abuse will stop.
Some or all of the following effects of abuse may be present: shame, self-blame, physical injuries, short and long-term health problems, sleep disturbances, constantly on guard, social withdrawal, lack of confidence, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, feelings of hopelessness, shock, and dissociative states.
Very limited services exist specifically for abused and abusive LGBT people.
LGBT people often experience a lack of understanding of the seriousness of the abuse when reporting incidences of violence to a therapist, police officer or medical personnel.
Homophobia in society denies the reality of lesbian and gay men's lives, including the existence of lesbian and gay male relationships, let alone abusive ones. When abuse exists, attitudes often range from 'who cares' to 'these relationships are generally unstable or unhealthy.'
Shelters for abused women may not be sensitive to same-sex abuse (theoretically, shelters are open to all women and therefore, a same-sex victim may not feel safe as her abuser may also have access to the shelter). Abused gay men have even fewer places to turn for help in that there are no agency-sponsored safe places to stay.
In lesbian and gay male relationships, there may be additional fears of losing the relationship which confirms one's sexual orientation; fears of not being believed about the abuse and fears of losing friends and support within the lesbian/gay communities.
Common Myths about Abuse in Lesbian Relationships:
Women are not abusive - only men are."
"Lesbians are always equal in relationships. It is not abuse, it is a relationship struggle."
"Abusive lesbians are more "butch," larger, apolitical or have social lives that revolve around the bar culture."
"Lesbian violence is caused by drugs, alcohol, stress, childhood abuse."
"Lesbian abusers have been abused/oppressed by men are therefore not as responsible for what they do."
"It is easier for a lesbian to leave her abusive partner that it is for a heterosexual woman to leave her abusive partner."
Common Myths About Abuse in Gay Male Relationships:
"Gay men are rarely victims of abuse by their partners."
"When violence occurs between gay men in a relationship, it's a fight, it's normal, it's 'boys will be boys.'"
"Abuse in gay male relationships primarily involves apolitical gay men, or gay men who are part of the bar culture."
"Abuse in gay male relationships is sexual behavior: it's a version of sadomasochism and the victims actually like it."
All professionals need to examine their own attitudes and feelings and how these have been influenced by homophobia and heterosexism.
Become aware of the silence and prevailing myths about partner abuse in lesbian and gay male relationships.
Do not assume with either males or females that their partner is of the opposite sex.
Respect your client's anxieties about disclosure of sexual orientation, which may be based on real fears of discrimination and its effects on child custody, family support, job security, and/or deportation. Choices about disclosure of orientation and same-sex relationships are those of your clients and theirs alone.
It is important to impart acceptance of your client's sexual orientation.
Clients who have been abused by a same-sex partner may initially have issues of trust with a professional of the same sex.
Learn about and encourage the use of supportive social networks within and outside the lesbian and gay male communities.
Trans or intersex status, if previously hidden, might become known and expose them to more violence, lead to the loss of a job, as very few jurisdictions provide employment discrimination protection.
Some information suggests that trans and intersex survivors have frequently been multiply abused for years or decades. Often a trans or intersex survivor has a unique body and/or a unique vulnerability to the emotional aftermath of sexual violence; either can make difficult or impossible discussing this abuse with an unfamiliar victims' advocate.
Related to this problem is the shame and self-doubt that is endemic in these communities, due to the pressures trans and intersex persons have felt from their earliest years to deny their feelings and conform to others' expectations.
Although every domestic violence survivor with children worries about the safety and custody of those children, the problem is much greater for trans parents, who know that because of prejudice and ignorance about trans persons, courts are extremely unlikely to grant them custody no matter how abusive the other parent is.
Gender segregation of survivor services. Virtually all trans survivors go through a significant period when they are in legal or medical transition. Some intersex survivors have a unique body that prevents identification with either a male or a female gender. Some trans individuals, including such notable examples as authors Kate Bornstein and Leslie Feinberg, have a gender identity and gender expression that is neither male nor female, but mixes elements of both. For all of these people, turning to a gender-segregated service agency may be inconceivable.
Marketing materials, brochures, ways services are introduced. Are they representative of the diversity of the populations within the service area? Will LGBT people feel like the advertised facility is a comfortable place for them? How is this communicated? What is the current reputation in LGBT community? Is there a need to address past negative experiences?
Display health info, magazines, posters, and other decorations that reflect the faces and interests of clients served. Staff should also be representative of clients served. Consider posting a written non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and gender identity.