New LGBTQ community center opens in Atlanta
A New York City-based LGBTQ community center expanded to the South this month with the opening of a new center on Mayson Street in Northeast Atlanta.
Destination Tomorrow South provides educational, financial, health and personal support programs for LGBTQ people in Atlanta, with a focus on LGBTQ people of color and transgender and gender-nonconforming people.
The nonprofit’s founder and executive director, Sean Ebony Coleman, hopes to replicate the success he had with the first Destination Tomorrow location.
“Destination Tomorrow’s main focus is economic empowerment,” he told WABE. “We want to make sure we give community members the tools to be successful.”
Coleman is no stranger to Georgia. He has family from here, and he’s a part of the ballroom community. His house, the House of Ebony, has an Atlanta chapter.
“I had so many house members say there weren’t enough services [for LGBTQ people] in Atlanta,” he said.
It’s been a four-year effort getting Destination Tomorrow South up and running.
“I wanted it to be a community effort,” Coleman said. “I reached out to partners here, came down to conferences here, I developed relationships and networks. I hired local people that understand what the issues are and how to address them.”
“Regionally, we all speak differently. What may resonate for someone in New York might fall through the gaps in Atlanta,” he added.
Destination Tomorrow South currently offers free telehealth services, substance abuse support and COVID-19 and HIV prevention and treatment services. It also houses two Black transgender organizations — the I Am Human Foundation and Ubuntu.
Coleman is working on providing housing services through Destination Tomorrow South next. LGBTQ people are more than twice as likely as non-LGBTQ people to experience homelessness, according to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. Transgender people are six times as likely as cisgender straight people to experience homelessness.
“We will be working to speak with local elected officials and others to figure out what kind of housing programs will work in Atlanta,” Coleman said.
The New York location of Destination Tomorrow opened an emergency housing program for transgender people that has 32 beds, offers job readiness and professional development programs and helps people transition to more permanent housing.
Overall, the goal is equity.
“I don’t believe that there’s ever been equity when it comes to recognizing and providing resources to particularly Black and brown LGBT folks,” Coleman said. “And narrowing it down further to Black and brown trans and gender-nonconforming folks. The commitment leaves a lot to be desired.”
The Rush Center was the only LGBTQ community center in Atlanta until closing in 2020. Its tenants included several prominent LGBTQ organizations, and the center hosted LGBTQ events in its annex. The physical Rush Center facility still houses Georgia Equality, Atlanta Pride, Pets Are Loving Support and All-1-Family. The annex was leased to another tenant.
Destination Tomorrow South is located at 1419 Mayson Street in Northeast Atlanta. It is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Visit destinationtomorrow.org/dt-south-atlanta for more information.