ITHACA, N.Y. – As Pride month comes to an end, one LGBTQ+ organization is just getting started.
Finger Lakes PULSE, which was founded by eight friends after the most recent presidential election, is an advocacy-oriented organization to support the LGBTQ+ community in the Finger Lakes area.
Anne Koreman, one of the eight founders of PULSE, said the organization has been a couple years in the making.
“There really isn’t an LGBTQ organization around here focused on service and advocacy,” Koreman said. “After the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando last year, there was a gathering on The Commons but there was no organization where people could go.”
Co-founder Sherron Brown echoed a similar sentiment, adding that the visibility of PULSE was crucial for newcomers in the community.
“Being a gay person is not something that’s visibly obvious,” Brown said. “If someone comes into the community, whether it be for work, business, or school and they want to find a community, oftentimes it’s hard to find if you don’t already have an in.”
After President Donald Trump was elected, members of PULSE decided that the formation of the organization was necessary.
“(The election) was pretty scary for us, realizing that he was someone who could take away our rights,” Koreman said. “By his actions, he is definitely turning back time and going against newer things that have passed, like giving back rights to states, the use of pronouns, and bathroom usage.”
While Brown said PULSE is still a new organization and founders are working out a structure, she said the group has been received by the Ithaca community with enthusiasm. Brown said their first opportunity to be visible as a group occurred as they marched in the Ithaca Festival Parade earlier this month.
“Being visible while all of Ithaca was assembled in one place was so important,” Brown said. “I felt like every pair of hands that were clapping were clapping for us as we marched – Ithaca was hungry to see pride representation, and the parade was step one in creating a buzz.”
Koreman said that as they are beginning to sort out the infrastructure of the group, they are focused on creating a strong membership to show that there is strength in numbers.
However, the organization is working on pinpointing what issues LGBTQ+ members of the community face, and what gaps still need to be filled in.
“Some of the biggest issues are housing for youth and elderly,” Koreman said. “When I was young, it was never a possibility for an LGBT person to have kids – as we age, a lot of us don’t have children to help us through that process.”
According to a 2012 study by the Williams Institute, 40 percent of homeless youth identify as transgender. Both Brown and Koreman said this statistic alone identified a need for housing services.
“Feeling secure in your home – that is a blessing. LGBT people may not feel safe in their homes,” Brown said. “One of the things that needs to be addressed is equal and fair housing, affordable housing, and housing for runaway and homeless LGBT youth.”
While Brown said the details of PULSE’s mission is still being drafted, one thing was for sure.
“It could go in so many different directions, but everything we do will be as a group,” Brown said. “I want more people to feel safe to come out and be out – no one should have to apologize for being who are they are.
Check out Finger Lakes PULSE’s Facebook page here.