QMNTY Center Provides Safe Space for LGBTQIA+ Pittsburghers

Photo by Chad Isaiah.

A new community center on the North Side is run by queer people for queer people. The QMNTY Center (pronounced Community) is run by local LGBTQIA+ organizations Proud Haven and TransYOUniting.

Proud Haven’s Lyndsey Sickler shared that the center emerged from the “consistent collaboration” between the two organizations over the years.

“Proud Haven initially only focused on mutual and emergency housing of LGBTQIA+ youth 18 to 25. TransYOUniting focuses on the Trans and Queer, Black and Brown community, providing mutual aid and other types of support around housing, peer support, transportation, workshop, leadership, and skill building,” Sickler said. “Over the last several years Proud Haven has expanded to serve not only houseless youth and young adults, but also high-risk young adults through our collaborative program, YOUth Drop In. High-risk youth include any and all youth who have experienced homelessness, poverty, neurodiversity, difficulty accessing care and/or food insecurity. It was through these expansions and our continued partnership with TransYOUniting that we were finally able to open our shelter, Haven House, which focused on housing trans and non-binary youth and young adults 18 to 30, in November of 2021.”

They explained that as the organizations’ focus and needs grew, so did their need for a space. Proud Haven was looking for a new office, and they knew TransYOUniting was as well. Sickler asked Dena Stanley, founder and Executive Director of TransYOUniting, to see the space they had toured.

“Then our respective exec[utive] board members visited and it was decided that we would deepen our working relationship that already existed to open this shared, collaborative space,” Sickler said. “It just made sense in so many ways. Separately, neither organization could afford the space, but by continuing to work together collaboratively, we could do it better together.”

After the decision, the organizations had to wait for construction in the space to finish up. The QMNTY Center officially opened on December 1, 2022.

“The QMNTY Center is the collective office of both Proud Haven and TransYOUniting as well as a mixed-use community space not only for our individual events, workshops, and gatherings but also for the community at large to use as well, whether for individual, organizational, or project events,” Sickler explained.

The center is also accessible, being a block away from several bus stops and minutes away from Downtown. Sickler shared that the space also has a “QMNTY closet” with items such as clothing, shelf-stable goods, and more for the community. The space also has a youth library.

Another perk of the space is the adaptability. The area allows the organizations to host any event they put their mind to. Thus far, Sickler lists: vogue practices, sex positivity therapy groups, movie nights, dance parties, drag shows and more.

“It’s such a versatile space and is able to hold at least 100 people for a variety of events and happenings,” they said.

Sickler says the center is a place to get “tangible support, to a friendly face, to a place to just exist.”

The center has been in full-swing for several months now. The QMNTY Center has Youth drop-in hours every week Monday-Friday from 12 p.m.-6 p.m. Additionally, there is QMNTY drop-in as well for people 18+ from 6 p.m.- 10 p.m. The center also hosts a pro-bono sex positivity therapy group weekly on Wednesdays.

Sickler shares that they see the QMNTY Center as “a mustard seed of faith in the continuing strength and growth of our various and diverse communities to work together.” They said that while the road is long and hard, the organizations can do the work to bring the community together.

“It is so important, especially in today’s political climate, to utilize our collective resources to best serve the folxs that matter most; not our individual selves, not our unique agencies, but our collective community,” Sickler said.  “It is our hope that the QMNTY Center is just the beginning. We hope to continue to be an active and thriving addition to any and all collaborative work being done for, on behalf of, and with the Trans, non-binary, gender nonconforming, and queer community.”

The QMNTY Center is located at 525 East Ohio St. on the North Side. The organizations have many events scheduled and can be found on their website QMNTYcenter.org and their Facebook page QMNTY Center.

“We are sincerely grateful to our kids, our volunteers who came from near and far, and our board members that helped to make the move happen,” Sickler said. “We literally couldn’t have done it without you.”

Tia (she/her) is a recent Point Park grad who majored in journalism. She loves all things movies, music, and Pittsburgh! As the summer 2022 QBurgh intern, she’s looking forward to writing about Pittsburgh’s LGBTQIA+ community and highlighting all the cool people doing cool things in the community.