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Big Gay Housewarming

By Tim State in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 5, 2007 2:22AM

centeronhalstedlobby.jpgOh, we enterprising gays. First we gentrify the gayborhood. The next thing you know we’re creating gay sports leagues and gay churches. And Tuesday Mayor Daley will join us hand-in-hand as we cut the ribbon to our brand new Center on Halsted, a gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community center that blows the door off the closet for GLBT centers across the country.

There are about 160 GLBT centers in the U.S., but none are as organic as Center on Halsted, which has grown from a three-way public-private partnership like no other in the country, according to the Center’s Executive Director Robbin Burr. Center on Halsted is the non-profit organization that provided the invite, the City of Chicago helped buy the party supplies (as did some 2,000+ donors), and Whole Foods is the Fortune-100 company that signed a long-term retail lease that will help provide a revenue stream so that the Center can continue to achieve their mission of building a stronger GLBT community. We just love it when three parties come together for a good time.

The politicking and community-building necessary to construct the building are not the only things organic about the Center, though. The building is certifiably green, with earth-friendly features like a roof garden, a rainwater harvest system that uses rainwater for wastewater conveyance in the toilets and urinals, and 50% of the building’s power purchased are from renewable sources, just to name a few. Funny how we gays are standing out by blending in to the world around us.

Chicagoist got a sneak peek preview of the glamorous new facility on the eve of their opening. Some of the highlights of the new center include features that make it the nation’s most comprehensive center. To help incubate young GLBT organizations, beautiful office and meeting space is provided for networking, collaborating, and organizing. There will be a recreation center, performance theatre, reception space, and a community computer lab. Currently Horizons Youth Program provides outreach to nearly 400 gay and lesbian youth per year, and their new space in the Center will allow them to expand their services. Mental health services, community and cultural programming, and many other services necessary for a strong and vital community will be an integral part of the Center.

We have to admit, our favorite feature on the entire tour – the faux crystal candelabras above the mirrors in the restrooms. Call that gay flair.