By Rob Schlegel
I know most readers are expecting a political column from me but let’s take a break and talk about community.
Southern Nevada is home to over two million persons. Using conservative estimates, there are 60,000 to 100,000 in our LGBTQ community. Never-the-less, we are not West Hollywood, or any of the other communities with large, politically and socially organized LGBTQ infrastructures.
We are one of the top tourist destinations in the US. It’s estimated we have between 2.5 to 3 million LGBTQ visitors per year. Obviously, most of them never visit our local LGBTQ bars or we would have 100’s of clubs, rather than 10 or 12. Most our visitors are drawn to the world-famous shops and night clubs – clubs that dwarf anything offered by locals.
No ‘gayborhoods’ here
Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to consider why Las Vegas doesn’t have a “gayborhood,” which is usually the focal point in other cities. My conclusion is, it’s all about zoning.
In Clark County, establishments that serve alcohol, usually with a gaming component, are subject to a 2,000 ft. restriction between venues in most areas. There are some older bars, built prior to the zoning restrictions, which is why we have a small area known as the “Fruit Loop” at Paradise and Naples.
In most cities, where gayborhoods exist, gay bars and nightclubs tend to draw retail and professional services and then draw residents interested in those venues. It is how gayborhoods get established in large cities.
It’s also why there’ll never be a real gayborhood in Las Vegas. 2,000 ft. is not a reasonable walking distance in the desert. In the walkable area around Paradise and Naples, there are few housing opportunities and thanks to the eff orts of the homophobic Bob Broadbent (deceased) and his former side kick Randy Walker, there is very limited parking. Combining lack of parking and housing, gives you sparse retail and professional services. Thus you’ll never have the gayborhoods people like to lament they miss from whatever city they came from.
We do have resources!
Relax! All is not lost. We do have some pretty awesome resources here in our valley. Nearly everyone reading this knows of some, but few are aware of the extent of services and activities offered.
The most obvious resource is this publication. Although new, you’re reading this. We have the ability to connect you with other resources, many of which you’re likely unaware.
The LGBTQ Center is probably a place you haven’t visited in the past few months. Many of you have never set foot inside. It’s a 16,000 sf building, staff ed by some wonderful volunteers and employees. It is underfunded and under-capitalized.
Our community and allies, with the help of major corporations, raised about $3 million of the $4.5 million building fund goal. That means The Center still owes about $1.5 million which was borrowed so our excited community could open its new center. Perhaps opening prior to raising the full purchase price was a mistake, but it’s one that we can correct.
Center needs $1.2 million
With the number of celebrities we have coming to Las Vegas, the number of LGBTQ visitors we have visiting, someone somewhere must have the ability to raise the funds to pay off this building.
My dream is “An Evening with Rachel Maddow,” at about $500 per ticket. While I’m a Maddow fan, I’m not sure there are 2,500 of them, willing to join me in paying $500 each. There are other celebrities, even more famous. It would take several major events, but could be done. We can raise the money.
Meanwhile, The Center still needs operating funds to pay staff salaries. That is where each of our readers needs to step up to the plate. I’m not going to tell you that for “the cost of one Starbucks coffee a week,…” because I like Starbucks. Each of us can find $20 to $30 per month to donate and still afford to buy our coffees.
3,500 need to step forward
It’s time 3,500 of us in this community, went online to The Center’s website, called them on the phone or walked in the front door. If each of us would pledge $20 to $30 per month, The Center’s operational problems would be solved. That’s why we have auto draft on our checking accounts or sign pledges with our credit cards. Don’t make The Center count on you remembering to write a check (you won’t!). Step up. Sign up and let’s get The Center’s operational issue funded.
I originally started this column to inform our readers of the many, many programs and activities that exist in our community. This publication is undertaking an ambitious project to inform each of you about all the activities you care about.
No matter what your interest, there is likely a club, group, activity or service that will interest you. Granted, for every activity that piques your interest, there will be 15 to 20 that won’t. Therein lies the issue with all the well-intentioned folks who “want our community to come together.”
Gym boys with classic cars who like to ice fish
We have disparate interests and honestly, you may not want to socialize with me and I may not want to attend your special interest group. Some things will bore us to tears or be a total turn off .
The Las Vegas Spectrum is undertaking a personalized, community calendar for each and every LGBTQ person in our community. Yes, we have the capacity to create 60,000 individual calendars, if each of you take us up on this project.
Our LGBTQ community has clubs or activities for hiking, reading, softball, lesbians of color, volleyball, former Mormons, healthcare professionals, real estate agents, trans people of color, recovery groups for alcohol, narcotics and gambling, along with empowering women, HIV positive persons, parents of LGBTQ children, LGBTQ parents and their children, knitting, big men and their admirers, young people from millennials, to Gen-X, Gen-Y and senior groups for aging boomers.
There are probably a dozen spiritual or religious affiliated groups that are LGBTQ or allied, along with choral groups and exercise groups. Let’s not forget the rodeo guys and girls, the Pride organizations (yes, that’s plural), car clubs, pool leagues, bowling, leather and every fetish you can imagine and a few you can’t and may not want to.
Each of these interest groups have organized activities. The Spectrum, thanks to our computer guru, Damon Blumberg, will establish event calendars for each group that has at least one member who will cooperate with us.
We already know, if you’ve read the groups I just listed, you’ll only be interested in a small fraction of these activities. You’ll be able to easily customize a calendar showing each event you’re interested in. i.e., if you’re not interested in the “leather gym boys with classic cars who go ice fishing,” we’ll leave that club off your calendar.
Here’s the catch. We know many of the groups that exist. Contacting them is sometimes difficult. This is where our community needs to assist. If you’re part of a group or know of a group, please email LVSpectrumCalendar@gmail. com and give us the details, including contact information. We’ll do the rest and announce our calendar project within the next couple of months.
Meanwhile, get in touch with The Center, or call the Spectrum. Let’s get you signed up as a regular donor to The Center. We are community and we will make this work.