The LGBTQ center hosts ribbon and open house celebration


Megan Fenwick

Guests pose and smile as Vice Mayor and Ward 4 councilman Bob Smith cuts the ribbon for the opening of the newAnnex of the Gay and Lesbian Center in Bakersfield.

Megan Fenwick, Social Media Editor

The Gay and Lesbian Center of Bakersfield held an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony on Oct. 12 for the Annex, their new second facility. The location is an office space at 841 Mohawk Street in Suite 260 and will be used for counseling, workshops and activities for the Bakersfield LGBTQ community. The office will also house administrative offices for the center.

“With the advent of our RISE (Reducing Isolation through Support and Empowerment) program that was funded by the state of California, we really had a need to be able to have focused office time and private counseling services and meeting space available to really go deeper in serving the most vulnerable,” said Jan Hefner, the executive director of the Center.

From 3-4 p.m., people gathered in the courtyard or went upstairs to see the inside of the office, which housed a wall of different pride flag paintings and explanations for different sexualities and identities, and receive tours of the space.

The ceremony began in the courtyard at 4 p.m. with a greeting from Melanie Farmer, the president and CEO of the Downtown Business Association, which the Gay and Lesbian Center is a member of. She was soon joined by Hefner, who said that “It is our hope and our mission that all LGBTQ people in our community can live rich, authentic lives in this city.”

Hefner proceeded to introduce other staff members, including Emily Fisher, the Center’s board president. Fisher thanked the five people who founded the Center in 2011, as well as the committee of volunteers.

“With this new location we can better reach out to bisexual and transgender people in our community, which is something very important to me personally,” said Fisher.

Megan Fenwick
Members of the audience look on as distinguished guests are introduced by Melanie Farmer.

Many lawmakers were distinguished guests at the event and sent representatives who thanked the center for its work in the community. One member of the audience, Robert Petersen, called out“Have him vote for us instead of against us next time!” after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s representative had finished speaking.

“Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is not our friend, and for him to send a representative here and pretend that he is our friend is kind of disingenuous … It’s a nice gesture but if you want to be our friend, vote for us,” said Petersen after the event ended. McCarthy, who voted against repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which required openly LGBTQ people to be removed from the military, was not the only lawmaker represented at the ribbon cutting who had a contradictory voting record. Both Rep. David Valadao and former Sen. Jean Fuller voted against prohibiting the use of sexual orientation conversion therapy in 2012.

The event ended with Bakersfield Vice-Mayor and Ward 4 Councilman Bob Smith cutting a rainbow colored ribbon in the courtyard.