fbpx

Florida LGBT Organizations That Are Making a Difference

While the world is slowly becoming a more inclusive place to live, LGBTQ+ individuals still face a diverse set of challenges due to their sexualities or gender identities – and Florida is no exception. Thankfully, whether you’re in Tampa or Miami, the Sunshine State has tons of LGBT organizations willing to lend a helping hand. 

In this list, we feature a wide selection of LGBT organizations that can be found across Florida. If you want a completely comprehensive list of all registered LGBT nonprofit organizations in Florida, check out our directory

State & Nationwide LGBT Organizations

ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Project

Local chapters: Miami & Coral Springs

Specialization: Advocating for legislative change and facilitating LGBT-oriented legal cases

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)’s LGBT-focused arm advocates for full equality for all in Central Florida and beyond. Like Equality Florida, the ACLU specializes in legislative issues and research-backed solutions. Their main goal is to ensure that people – whether lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender – are given the same civil liberties as anyone else outside the gay community.

Like other LGBT organizations, the ACLU rallies for a safer and more inclusive space for LGBT Q-identifying individuals to be themselves and free from harassment and violence. That said, what sets the ACLU apart from grassroots organizing initiatives is its unique focus on The Constitution. 

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Project’s goals have specific constitutional reasons and resources for each plan. On top of this, they emphasize educating individuals who may not understand why LGBTQ+ people require laws specific to them. 

AIDS Healthcare Foundation

Location: Fort Lauderdale

Specialization: HIV and AIDS healthcare

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is a global organization that has been around for over 30 years, giving people living with HIV (PLHIV) access to medicine “regardless of ability to pay”. Today, AHF has over 1 million patients around the world. 

These are some of the services AHF provides to its patients:

  • Specialist care
  • HIV and AIDS medication
  • Free HIV testing
  • Free STD testing

Aside from these, AHF also has researchers who are working on testing new medications to combat HIV. The group is also involved in several advocacy campaigns, including the fight for cheaper medicine, affordable housing, and equal access to health services.

Equality Florida

Headquarters: St. Petersburg

Specialization: Educational programs for schools and businesses, policy-oriented advocacies

Founded in 1997, Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization advocating for full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender people living in the Sunshine State. This coalition-building organization has hundreds of thousands of supporters all over the United States, allowing them to effectively advocate for adequate protections for LGBTQ+ people in schools, workplaces, and at home. 

Unlike many other smaller non-profit groups, Equality Florida is made up of two organizations. 

  • Equality Florida Institute, Inc: A 501(c)(3) educational charity
  • Equality Florida Action, Inc: A 501(c)(4) advocacy organization

Together, these two organizations form a powerful force for changing Florida for the better, such as lobbying for more effective services to support the well-being and safety of the local LGBT community. But that’s not all – Equality Florida has also launched several campaigns to make Florida a more inclusive place to live. 

Here are some of the things Equality Florida has achieved to-date:

  • TransAction: TransAction is a transgender inclusion initiative designed to influence grassroots organizing and impact the policymaking process.
  • Equality Means Business: This program highlights local businesses in South Florida and beyond with full equality business practices, encouraging other small businesses to do the same.
  • Safe And Healthy Schools: This program by Equality Florida aims to uproot anti-LGBTQ sentiments within schools, as well as curb bullying, and harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

National LGBTQ Task Force

Location: Miami

Specialization: Advocacy, legislation

As one of the largest civil rights organizations for LGBTQ+ people, the National LGBTQ Task Force‘s mission is to advance “full freedom, justice, and equality for LGBTQ people”. The Task Force trains and mobilizes activists around the US to help LGBTQ people overcome barriers in employment, housing, healthcare, and more. The Task Force is the oldest national LGBTQ advocacy organization in the US.

Central Florida

26Health

Location: Orlando

Specialization: Health services

26Health is a health organization that provides comprehensive physical and mental health services for LGBTQ+ people living in Central Florida. Their mission is to improve “mind-body-spirit” health among LGBTQ+ folks and allies. 

Here is a list of some of the services 26Health offers:

  • Mental health care such as counseling for transitioning and addiction and recovery
  • Adoption counseling
  • HIV and STI testing, support, and medication
  • Medispa treatments such as skincare and hair removal 
  • COVID-19 support
  • Transgender health services such as hormone replacement therapy and surgical clearance

The Center

Location: Orlando

Specialization: Education, health services, counseling

Founded in 1978, The Center is one of the oldest LGBTQ centers in Florida and the entire US. It began as a safe space for LGBTQ+ folk living in Central Florida. Over the years, the Center evolved to become a place where queer people could call and then, eventually, show up to receive mental health counseling, HIV/AIDS health care, and other services.

In 2016, following the Pulse Nightclub tragedy, the Center became “Ground Zero for community healing”. 

Today, the Center offers the following programs:

  • Older Wiser Learners: A group for LGBTQ+ adults. Meetings include grief and loss support, social activities, and game days. 
  • Q Chat Space for Youth: Live chats for LGBTQ+ youths aged 13 to 19 who are looking for a place to be themselves and learn through their peers. The chats are administered by trained facilitators.
  • Free Virtual Immigration Clinic: This is an online strategy session that immigrants can book with attorneys to discuss immigration options and concerns.
  • Addiction and recovery meetings
  • Career planning sessions

Hope and Help Center

Location: Orlando

Specialization: Health services, HIV/AIDS testing, and treatment

Founded in 1988 by a small group of friends who were caring for a friend experiencing AIDS-related complications, Hope and Help has grown to become one of the leading HIV/AIDS and STI service organizations in the sunshine state. Today, the nonprofit has a full medical clinic and offers a long list of health services, such as: 

  • HIV/STI testing 
  • Specialized HIV and hepatitis C treatment
  • PrEP and nPEP
  • Trans health care and HRT services
  • Mental health counseling
  • Support groups
  • Telehealth consultations
  • One-on-one coaching

The Pride Chamber (formerly MBA Orlando)

Location: Orlando

Specialization: LGBTQ Chamber, business

As Central Florida’s LGBT Chamber of Commerce, The Pride Chamber is an organization that is committed to furthering full equality in business in the region. The group serves as a bridge between LGBT-owned businesses, LGBTQ+ consumers, and allies, and works to give LGBT-run businesses the recognition they deserve. 

Among its other programs, the Pride Chamber hosts monthly networking events, educational talks, and an annual Pride Gala to honor achievements made by LGBTQ+ businesses professionals in Orlando. The Chamber also organizes a Transgender Professional Networking Group which connects trans business owners so they can share best practices and support each other.

onePulse Foundation

Location: Orlando

Specialization: Memorial, museum, scholarships, and education

On June 12, 2016, 49 people were killed and 68 others were injured in a tragic shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. Following the tragedy, the onePulse Foundation was launched by the owner of the nightclub as a “sanctuary of hope” and a way of honoring the victims. 

The non-profit foundation has since put together 49 annual legacy scholarships based on the aspirations or careers of each of the lives lost. 

Apart from the scholarship program, the foundation is also building a memorial to the victims, supporting the survivors and victims’ families through grants, and holding educational programs through the onePulse Academy. 

Pride Community Center of North Central Florida

Location: Gainesville

Specialization: Community center, educational resources, events 

Established in 2000, the Pride Community Center of North Central Florida, or PCCNCF, aims to be a safe space for LGBTQ+ folks living in the North Central Florida area. Some of the PCCNCF’s contributions to the community include:

  • Providing meals and household necessities to PLHIV
  • Hosting the Gainesville Equality Youth group for queer youths aged 13 to 17
  • Running the Audre Lorde Library, a collection of over 2,000 books either written by LGBTQ+ authors or about LGBTQ+ culture, themes, and the community
  • Organizing the annual Gainesville Pride Festival, which sees about 5,000 attendees each year

QLatinx

Specialization: Social justice, POC

Location: Orlando

The Pulse tragedy wasn’t just a big blow to Orlando’s queer community but to the queer Latinx as well. The shooting happened during the nightclub’s Latinx-themed night – nearly half of the 49 victims were Puerto Rican, and many others were of Latinx or Afro-Latinx descent. As a response, QLatinx was born.

QLatinx is a grassroots social justice organization that centers on the empowerment of LGBTQ+ Latinx in Orlando and Central Florida. According to its site, QLatinx seeks to “empower the most marginalized members of our community” while providing “supportive healing spaces”.

Zebra Coalition

Location: Orlando & Kissimmee

Specialization: Mental health services, housing programs, and youth-oriented support groups

Don’t be fooled by the name – the Zebra Coalition is actually a network of LGBT organizations rolled into one simple and easy-to-remember moniker. But despite being the product of many different smaller groups, the Zebra Coalition is singularly focused on providing all sorts of life-changing services to the gay youth of Florida. 

Here are a few of the many extensive programs and services available to folks under 24:

  • Housing and support services: The Zebra Coalition has managed to find safe homes for thousands of displaced and homeless LGBTQ+ youth over the last few years.
  • Drop-In Center: Over time, this Florida non-profit has also provided various “drop-in” services to hundreds of teens and young adults all over Florida. This includes meals, study areas, hot showers, and even free WiFi and computer use.
  • Outreach and training: Through the “Creating Safe Spaces” program, the Zebra Coalition has educated hundreds of high school students and teachers on furthering LGBTQ+ equality in schools. Their programs involve discussions about bullying and how to address them in a school setting. They also offer similar services for Florida business owners.
Photo by OnePulse Foundation on OnePulseFoundation.org

Where to Stay in Central Florida

Some of our favorite Central Florida LGBTQ-friendly lodgings include:

The Edgewater Hotel, Winter Park

The Grove Resort & Water Park, Orlando

DoubleTree by Hilton, Gainesville

Florida Keys

AH of Monroe

Location: Key West

Specialization: HIV/AIDS health services, housing, senior care

Established 34 years ago, AH is the sole community-based HIV/AIDS organization in the Florida Keys. According to its website, AH of Monroe started with a “handful of worried people” gathering on a back porch with one simple goal: no one should die alone. 

Today, AH of Monroe extends the following services to anyone living in Monroe County who is diagnosed with HIV:

  • Case management
  • Medical and dental referrals
  • Health education 
  • Housing case management
  • Help with federal/state assistance 

AH of Monroe also provides affordable housing facilities for PLHIV and other at-risk groups such as the elderly and persons with disabilities.

Key West Business Guild

Location: Key West

Specialization: Tourism, business

Key West is known worldwide as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly vacation spots in all of the US. Gay guest houses, gay dive bars, gay events – these are all commonplace in Key West. On top of this, Key West became the first city in the United States to elect an openly queer mayor. 

All of this is made possible thanks not only to the thriving LGBT community that has taken up residence in Key West but to Gay Key West as well. The business guild, founded in 1978, has been promoting Key West to queer travelers and would-be residents for over 40 years. 

Aside from promoting LGBTQ+ tourism in the Florida Keys, KWBG also hosts annual events, from Key West Pride to Womanfest to the Headdress Ball. The guild is supported by the Florida Keys Tourism Development Council. 

Photo by Mayur Gala on Unsplash

Where to Stay in the Florida Keys

Some of our favorite Florida Keys LGBTQ-friendly lodgings include:

Coconut Bay Resort, Key Largo

Rainbow Bend Resort, Marathon

El Patio Motel, Key West

Florida Panhandle

The Family Tree: LGBT Community Center

Location: Tallahassee

Specialization: Events, advocacy

The Family Tree is a Tallahassee-based nonprofit that aims to improve the conditions of LGBTQ+ individuals and remove barriers that prevent them from feeling safe and welcome. Their mission is to “eliminate the conditions which allow homophobia to exist” and provide a place where everyone, regardless of gender and sexuality, feels welcomed.

The Family Tree Community Center is the official organizer of Tallahassee Pridefest.

LGBTQ Center of Bay County

Location: Panama City

Specialization: Youth support, wellness, events

According to its website, the LGBTQ Center of Bay County is the sole dedicated “all-inclusive LGBTQ+ youth program” in the Florida Panhandle. Their core values include collaboration with the local LGBTQ+ people; celebration of queer culture and history; education for LGBTQ+ individuals, their friends and families, allies, and the larger community on major issues; and initiation and improvement of the wellness of the community by providing access to pertinent resources.

Some of their programs include:

  • Youth Peer Support Group: Peer-led discussions on tough topics for teens aged 13 to 18, including coming out, bullying, depression, relationships, etc.
  • YA Connect: A social support group for LGBTQ+ individuals aged 18 and over, focusing on mental health issues, workplace challenges, and dealing with rejection from family and religious communities.
  • Friends, Family, and Allies Coming Together (FACT): A support group for people who are friends with or related to LGBTQ+ individuals who may need help with parenting, coming out, discrimination, and acceptance. 
  • Trans* Support Group: A group open to transgender, non-binary, genderqueer, questioning individuals – anyone who does not feel they fit into their assigned gender identity. 
  • OWLS: Older Wiser Lesbians is a social group for women. Activities include discussions, dinners, hikes, game nights, and more. 
  • Positive Connections: A support group for PLHIV.
  • Bay Pride: The annual pride parade of Panama City Beach.

Sunday’s Child

Location: Pensacola

Specialization: Charitable giving, grants

Sunday’s Child is a group of LGBTQ+ and LGBTQ-friendly active citizens who seek to “create permanent and lasting change” in support of LGBTQ+ people in Pensacola.

The group awards $25,000 to $50,000 grants to nonprofits that “address community needs”. Since the group’s inception in 2013, Sunday’s Child has awarded $536,250 to organizations located in the Pensacola Bay Area.

Grant categories include:

Animals, Environment, and Recreation: Initiatives focused on environmental protection or restoration, animal welfare, and/or improving recreational activities in the Pensacola Bay Area.

Health and Wellness: Initiatives that help residents of the Pensacola Bay Area in the aspects of mental and/or physical health and wellness.

Arts, Culture, and Education: Projects that develop and preserve the artistic culture and heritage of the Pensacola Bay Area, as well as initiatives that bring art education and training to more residents.

Human Services, Community, and Economic Development: Projects that contribute to economic development and community building.

Photo by Filmbetrachter on Pixabay

Northeast Florida

Hope Across the Globe

Location: Jacksonville

Specialization: Health services, HIV/AIDS prevention

Abiding by its motto “embracing the world with hope for those with HIV/AIDS,” Hope Across the Globe is a medical nonprofit organization that helps diagnose, treat, manage, and prevent HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, and STIs, as well as provides holistic wellness and social services to PLHIV.

Aside from providing free and discreet testing and medical care, Hope Across the Globe also runs an awareness campaign in the local Jacksonville area to help educate those in high-risk communities and prevent the prevalence of further cases. The group also brings in medication, supplies, and educational resources to rural clinics in Panama and Peru.

JASMYN

Location: Jacksonville

Specialization: Health and wellness

JASMYN is a nonprofit organization based in Jacksonville, Florida which aims to affirm LGBTQ+ youth in their identities by providing access to health and wellness services, safe spaces, and opportunities for development. 

JASMYN offers the following health services:

  • Free rapid HIV testing
  • PrEP
  • Free protection and lube
  • A sexual health clinic that offers counseling, treatment, and referrals
  • Support and educational groups for HIV positive youth, LGBTQ+ individuals seeking mental health counseling, and teens under 18 seeking support
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

South Florida

The Alliance for GLBTQ Youth

Location: North Miami

Specialization: Youth advocacy, education

Founded in 2006, the Alliance was developed specifically as a response to growing concern that Miami GLBTQ youth were at high risk of suicide, substance abuse, and harassment. Much like other youth-centered organizations on this list, the Alliance provides counseling, youth enrichment activities, leadership development seminars, and homeless services. 

Aqua Foundation for Women

Location: Miami

Specialization: Education and scholarships

Education is the main focus of Aqua Foundation, providing LGBTQ+ individuals who are pursuing degrees with help in the form of funding and leadership training programs. 

Aqua Foundation’s programs include:

  • The Aqua Scholarship Program: Scholarships available to LGBTQ+ women, transgender individuals, intersex, and non-binary folk in pursuit of a bachelor’s, master’s, associates, or doctorate degree. Along with funding for tuition, scholars are paired with mentors who aid in leadership development.
  • Aqua Cares: A new initiative centered on wellness, self-care, and outreach. Aqua Cares is a virtual space borne out of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Transcon: This is an annual conference series for trans and non-binary people living in Southern Florida, serving as a safe space for education and empowerment.

Compass Community Center

Location: Palm Beach

Specialization: Support groups, health services, youth support

Having been around for over 30 years, Compass has earned itself a reputation as one of the “largest and most respected” LGBT community centers in the US. It serves over 25,000 people in its 14,000 sq. ft. facility – which houses an extensive library, a cyber center, a ballroom, a memorial garden, and a youth room that serves as the go-to meeting space for youth programs.

Among the Center’s long list of services are:

  • Mental health services: This includes youth counseling, group and one-on-one therapy, relationship counseling, and professional development.
  • Health services: HIV testing and case management for people living with HIV and AIDS, as well as outreach programs.
  • Social and support groups: The Compass Center hosts several youth groups, social groups for queer adults, bereavement/loss therapy groups, and a transgender economic empowerment program. The latter is a program that links trans individuals with services that can help them develop themselves in their professional careers.

The Center also organizes special events all year round, including Palm Beach Pride and the Stonewall Ball. 

Photo by Lili Liu on Unsplash

Latinos Salud

Locations: Wilton Manors, Miami Beach, Miami Southwest

Specialization: Health services, HIV/AIDS prevention, testing, and treatment

In Spanish, “salud” means health. As such, Latinos Salud is a fitting name for an organization that aims to provide “client-centered, culturally competent health education” and screenings, preventative services, and linkages for Southern Florida’s queer Latinos. This is all done in the hopes of preventing the spread of communicable diseases like STIs, HIV, and AIDS, as well as improve health outcomes for those who are diagnosed.

Latinos Salud is special in that the organization makes every effort to make Latinos feel safe and welcome in their facilities. They employ bilingual program staff who hail from countries like Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, etc.

Maven Leadership Collective

Location: Miami Beach

Specialization: Leadership, social justice

Unlike the other organizations on this list, Maven Leadership Collective is unique in that it invests in helping queer and trans people of color who want to become “social impact leaders”. According to its site, Maven is an “ideas lab” that aims to build resilient communities by harnessing diverse talents. 

Maven Leadership Collective is the sole social impact organization in the sunshine state that works to center LGBTQ+ people of color in leadership development. Their programs include:

  • Professional Development: This includes leadership seminars for HIV advocacy, collaboration seminars for social entrepreneurs looking to develop projects or products, and leadership classes for social impact leaders. 
  • Wellness and Self-care: This includes a free digital hub for wellness practices, free yoga sessions, and healing sound meditation experiences.

Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce

Location: Miami Beach

Specialization: LGBTQ Chamber, business

The large nonprofit corporation in Miami-Dade County dedicated to LGBTQ-owned businesses, the MDGLCC is composed of 600 companies and over 1,200 members. Its mission? To promote “a unified and thriving, gay and gay-friendly, business and professional community” in Miami-Dade County. 

What does this entail? The chamber hosts various networking events and business opportunities to queer business owners, boosts businesses’ visibility online, and promotes Miami as a gay-friendly tourist spot to bring in more business for members.

Pridelines

Locations: Miami & Wilton Manors 

Specialization: Youth services, HIV/AIDS wellness programs, and support groups

While other orgs focus on advocacy and legislation, Pridelines doubles down on the social and emotional well-being of Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender community. They seek to support any LGBT person who suffers harassment in their daily lives through a number of services, from youth groups to scholarships. 

Founded in 1999, Pridelines has become a safe space for thousands of Florida gay youth over the years. Here are some of the programs Pridelines has developed for LGBTQs in central Florida and beyond:

  • Project S.A.F.E.: This project connects displaced members of the LGBT community under 24 years old with host homes for safe and clean living arrangements. 
  • Positive Connections Support Groups: Like other LGBT organizations, Pridelines holds several support groups for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender folks. 
  • Lounges, Computers, and Meals: Part of the full equality initiative is ensuring that LGBTQ+ youth have access to everything they need for work or school. Pridelines’ Miami center has computers, lounges, WiFi, and meals for members and guests. 
  • Free HIV and STI Testing: Pridelines offers safe, free, and completely confidential HIV and STI testing. 
  • Peer Counseling: Because Pridelines is more youth-oriented, it offers peer and mentor counseling programs to help young members of the LGBT community with the various issues they may experience. 
Photo by Joshua Stott on Unsplash

Poverello Center

Location: Wilton Manors

Specialization: Food, wellness, HIV/AIDS services

Many of the organizations on this list are focused on legislation, education, and health services. Poverello Center is unique in its advocacy of providing nutritious food to individuals living with chronic conditions such as HIV and AIDS.

Poverello was founded in 1987 by Father Bill Collins and a group of volunteers whose goal was to provide nutrition to the thousands of people who were affected by the AIDS crisis of the 80s. Aside from PLHIV, Poverello provides “food as medicine” to those living with kidney problems, heart problems, cancer, and other life-threatening illnesses. 

Safe Schools South Florida

Location: Fort Lauderdale

Specialization: Education, youth services

Safe Schools takes pride in the fact that it is the only organization in the South of Florida composed of educational professionals who are committed to training others in the field of education and youth services – as well parents and guardians – on how to “create safer schools and communities” that allow all kinds of students to learn and grow.

Safe Schools South Florida’s programs include:

  • The Safe Schools Training series: Training programs conducted in partnership with school districts and communities to teach educators and administrators how to create safer learning environments for LGBTQ+ students and allies. 
  • Youth empowerment programs: This includes the Youth Leadership Summit and the Gay-Straight Alliance Empowerment Day.
  • Youth scholarships: The Robert E. Loupo, Jr. “Legacy of Change” Scholarship is given to graduating seniors who advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and equality.
  • SpeakOUT Bureau: This group of volunteer speakers, composed of professionals from a range of ages and backgrounds, conducts school visits to provide support and lessons to LGBTQ+ students, allies, and parents. 
  • GSA leadership training conferences
Photo by Isi Parente on Unsplash

SAVE Foundation

Location: Miami

Specialization: Policy-oriented advocacy

Founded in 1993, SAVE Foundation is South Florida’s longest-running foundation dedicated to fighting against LGBTQ+ discrimination. The grassroots organization tackles issues such as conversion therapy, anti-LGBTQ+ bills, judicial diversity, and laws that perpetuate the stigma against HIV.

SAVE advocates for equal rights for all using a three-pronged approach:

  • Political advocacy: SAVE works to promote local, state, and federal policy change through consensus building.
  • Outreach: The group also holds educational programs to keep South Floridians informed about pressing issues affecting its LGBTQ+ population.
  • Candidate endorsements: SAVE rallies behind politicians who stand against discrimination of the LGBT community. 

South Florida Afro Pride Federation

Location: Pompano Beach

Specialization: Health services, HIV/AIDS testing and treatment, Pride event organizing

According to research, queer people of color are at greater risk of discrimination, violence, and economic insecurity than their white counterparts. As such, it’s refreshing to see an organization focused solely on the “solidarity, empowerment, and overall wellness” of LGBTQ+ POC in South Florida.

The South Florida Afro Pride Federation provides a wide array of programs and services aimed at improving the lives of the black and brown LGBTQ+ population in South Florida, particularly Broward County. Among many other programs, the Federation provides the following:

  • Mental health services in the form of individual and group therapy, substance abuse support and treatment, and medication management
  • HIV/STI prevention, testing, and education programs
  • Collaborative meetings on issues concerning the LGBT community in and outside of Southern Florida
  • Organizing the Afro Pride annual parade and music festival

Stonewall National Museum & Archives

Location: Fort Lauderdale

Specialization: Museum and education

Although similar in name, the Stonewall National Museum & Archives has no connection to the Stonewall Riots that happened in New York in the 60s. The museum, known as one of the biggest archives of queer literature in the United States, was founded by Mark Silber in 1972. Silber used the name “Stonewall” as a way of memorializing the seminal moment of LGBTQ history and liberation.

Today, SNMA holds live and virtual exhibitions, author presentations, and panel discussions for the public. Tours of the archive are open to the public but use of items is limited to researchers on an appointment basis. 

YES Institute

Location: Miami

Specialization: Education

YES Institute was established in 1996 as a way to address the high suicide rates among LGBTQ+ teens. According to its website, the nonprofit does so by initiating “authentic, purposeful dialogue and providing education on gender and orientation”.

YES Institute takes pride in its groundbreaking educational courses, which the organization added to its program in 2003. The courses delve into topics like unconscious biases in learning environments, responding to children’s questions about gender and sexual orientation, reimagining femininity and masculinity, bullying, and creating more diverse and inclusive workplaces. 

Photo by Debbie Hudson on Unsplash

Southwest Florida

ARAY

Location: Port Charlotte

Specialization: LGBTQ+ youth

Short for All Rainbow Allied Youth, ARAY is a Charlotte-based nonprofit dedicated to “bringing youth together” and providing queer youth with a safe and fun space. 

ARAY’s youth-oriented services include:

  • LGBTQ+ youth advocacy: Particularly in the fields of education, medicine, and public policy. According to their site, ARAY “elevates youth voices so that they are represented in the community”.
  • Best practices training: ARAY offers introductions to “compassionate and LGBTQ+ inclusive” best practices to health care service providers, human resources groups, etc.
  • Educational packets and one-on-one sessions: Resources for LGBTQ+ youth, their friends, and families.
  • Drop-in hours: Social activities for LGBTQ+ youth, including games, movie screenings, painting sessions, etc.
  • Binder donations: ARAY provides financial assistance to queer youth under 20 looking to purchase chest binders.

GLSEN Collier County

Location: Naples

Specialization: Education

Studies have shown that LGBTQ+ students are at higher risk of bullying than their straight-identifying peers. 

GLSEN (pronounced like “glisten”) is a nationwide network of education advocates for LGBTQ+ students. According to its website, GLSEN’s mission is to ensure that LGBTQ students can enjoy a learning environment that is “free from bullying and harassment”.

GLSEN’s programs are built around the four “Supports”:

  • Activating educators who are supportive of LGBTQ-inclusive initiatives in the classroom
  • Creating affirming and inclusive school curriculum that generates awareness among all students 
  • Building policy that protects LGBTQ+ students so that they can learn in a safe and productive environment
  • Providing support towards clubs and Gender and Sexuality Alliances and thus empowering student leaders in building communities and seeking equality for the LGBT community

Southwest Florida Harmony Chamber of Commerce

Location: Fort Myers

Specialization: LGBTQ chamber, business

According to its website, the Southwest Florida Harmony Chamber of Commerce (SWFLHCC) seeks “the betterment of all LGBTQ professionals and the betterment of the Southwest Florida business community”. To achieve this business, SWFLHCC creates networking opportunities for LGBTQ+ business owners and professionals, introduces business opportunities to members, and promotes Southwest Florida as a must-see tourist destination for queer travelers.

Visuality Florida

Location: Fort Myers

Specialization: Health and wellness, education

Visuality Florida is a Southwest Florida-based LGBTQ+ center that focuses on enhancing health and wellness through scholarships, group activities, and peer support groups. The Visuality Scholarship Fund is an annual program that awards $500 to two LGBTQ+ applicants residing in Southwest Florida. 

Photo by Harry Quan on Unsplash

Space Coast

Project Response

Location: Melbourne

Specialization: HIV/AIDS health services

Project Response calls itself an “HIV/AIDS organization for the Space and Treasure Coasts”, providing access to free rapid testing, treatment, and PrEP. 

Project Response was founded in 1990 as a grassroots organizing group with the mission of serving as a “lifeline” for PLHIV residing in the Space and Treasure Coasts. Their mission is to improve the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS, prevent the spread of the illness by stigmatizing HIV and AIDS, and provide educational resources to those who need them. 

Tampa Bay

ALSO Youth

Location: Sarasota

Specialization: Youth support, education

Founded in 1992 as a response to the alarming rates of suicide among LGBTQ teens, ALSO Youth is a nonprofit organization that offers educational programs and peer support services to LGBTQ-identifying youth aged 13 to 21 as well as their families, friends, and allies. 

Advocacy, leadership, support, and outreach are the main tenets of ALSO Youth. The group offers a range of programs and services for youth and young adults, including:

  • Transgender peer support groups
  • Drop-In Centers for LGBTQ+ youth and allies in Sarasota and Bradenton
  • Merit/Needs-based scholarship programs for LGBTQ+ youth under 22
  • Club assistance, training, and presentations for GSAs in the Sarasota and Manatee areas
  • LGBTQ+ and gender sensitivity training for businesses and nonprofits

Balance Tampa Bay

Location: Tampa Bay

Specialization: Philanthropy, events

Founded in 2011, this relatively new LGBTQ+ nonprofit exists to promote “fellowship, fun, and philanthropy” in the Tampa Bay area. In the spirit of fun and fellowship, Balance Tampa Bay opens its events to everyone interested in participating – of course, with a few exceptions for the sake of the safety of its attendees. 

Aside from its monthly homeless feeding program and its open-for-all social nights, Balance Tampa Bay holds three special events throughout the year for the benefit of a local charity. These include:

  • Party 4 Presents: A holiday toy drive that supports the local children’s organizations in the area.
  • Kickball for Kids: A family-friendly kickball tournament – proceeds of the event go to a different children’s charity each year.
  • Masquerade!: A yearly fundraiser ball filled with music, dancing, and mystery!

CAN Community Health

Location: Sarasota

Specialization: Health services, HIV/AIDS

CAN Community Health is a nonprofit that runs 34 medical clinics across Florida, with locations in Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Sarasota, South Beach, Ybor City, St, Petersburg, Tampa, and more.

CAN provides comprehensive healthcare, acute and long-term management of HIV, dental care, counseling and therapy, and pharmacy services. The nonprofit also holds awareness programs, from free rapid HIV and hepatitis C testing to intervention programs and talks with speakers living with HIV.

Come Out St. Pete

Location: St. Petersburg

Specialization: Events and in-person gatherings

Founded in 2017, Come Out St. Pete is one of the youngest LGBT organizations in Florida. The organization’s original purpose was to help the developing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community celebrate Coming Out Day on October 11th, but Come Out St. Pete has since flourished into something bigger. Like many other LGBT organizations in Florida, they now host community-oriented events all year round!

According to their website, their mission can be simplified into three points:

  • Advocate for full equality and raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues 
  • Celebrate the history and achievements of LGBTQ+ Floridians
  • Assist lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender brothers and sisters by providing support, guidance, and resources

​​EPIC (Empath Partners in Care)

Locations: St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa

Specialization: Health service, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment

EPIC, a member of Empath Health, is a nonprofit that provides support to people living with chronic and advanced illnesses in the Tampa Bay region. As an integrated network of care, EPIC is a partnership between Empath, ASAP (AIDS Service Association of Pinellas) and Francis House, an agency that offers spiritual care and support groups for PLHIV. 

EPIC’s services include:

  • Free HIV testing
  • Medical case management
  • Counseling
  • Housing assistance
  • PrEP treatment
  • Social support and community service referrals for LGBTQ+ seniors
  • Community educational series on HIV/AIDS in the Pinellas and Hillsborough counties

Metro Inclusive Health

Locations: St. Petersburg, Tampa, Clearwater, New Port Richey 

Specialization: Health service, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment

It’s all in the name – Metro Inclusive Health is a nonprofit that provides a wide range of inclusive and quality health and wellness services. 

Metro was established in 1993, but its roots go further back to the early 80s when the Metropolitan Charities was created by the King of Peace Metropolitan Community Church. Back then, the church was the first local faith-based organization that extended a hand to those affected by AIDS at the height of the epidemic.

Today, Metro offers LGBTQ-focused primary care, therapy, HIV testing and treatment, PrEP and nPEP, and gender-affirming healthcare for trans and nonbinary patients. The organization also provides COVID-19 vaccinations to anyone eligible. 

Project No Labels

Location: St. Petersburg

Specialization: Funding & Research

Like many other LGBT organizations in Florida, Project No Labels seeks to empower lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender people. Despite being relatively newer than more established grassroots organizing initiatives, Project No Labels does have a few unique ideas. Many of their programs aim to unite queer Floridians with their straight allies, creating a united front for a better tomorrow. 

SAGE Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders

Local chapters: St. Petersburg & Tampa

Specialization: Elderly LGBT care and resources

SAGE is a unique organization with a special focus on advocating the queer pioneers: the LGBTQ+ folks over 62 years old. With affiliate centers in Wilton Manors and St. Petersburg, SAGE provides a safe and supportive space for gay seniors in Florida through programs and initiatives designed to make their lives easier.

Here are some of the many programs SAGE has to offer:

  • HIV & Aging Policy Action Coalition (HAPAC): Many LGBT elders with HIV/AIDS don’t have the necessary healthcare and support they need, but SAGE seeks to change that. Through campaigns and educational efforts, SAGE members seek to influence policymakers for a safer tomorrow.
  • Long-Term Care Equality Index (LEI): The LEI works in tandem with partner centers to hold long-term care facilities (or homes for the elderly) accountable for providing care for LGBT elders. 
  • SAGECare: Many seniors fear discrimination in long-term care facilities. To address this, the SAGECare competency program seeks to educate professional caregivers and healthcare providers on inclusive care for LGBT seniors. 

Tampa Bay LGBT Chamber

Location: Tampa

Specialization: LGBTQ chamber, business

For over 35 years, the Tampa Bay LGBT Chamber has operated with a mission to “advance equality for its LGBT and allied businesses”, bring economic growth to the Tampa Bay area, and provide networking opportunities and educational workshops for LGBT business owners. 

In 2020, upon the unveiling of its new logo and under a new name (it was formerly called the Tampa Bay Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce), it was announced that the chamber will officially serve the whole Tampa Region, including the counties of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Manatee, Sarasota, Polk, and Hernando.

Tampa International Film Festival

Location: Tampa

Specialization: Festival, arts, and culture

What started in 1990 as a three-day extension of Tampa Pride has blossomed into a nine-day juried LGBTQ+ film festival that screens queer films from around the world. 

The entire festival proper is held at the historic Tampa Theatre, a 95-year-old 1,400-seat theater with a plaza that comes to life with music, vendors, and more. 

Photo by Y_Y on Unsplash

Pride Organizations

No list of LGBTQ+ nonprofits in Florida is complete without acknowledging the many organizations that work tirelessly to celebrate queer joy and pride. While, officially, Pride Month falls in June, Florida celebrates pride all year round, with festivals, parades, beach parties, and film fests happening all over the state from February to November.

For an in-depth look into all the fun and festivities that Florida pride has to offer, be sure to check out our complete guide to Florida pride

If you’re interested to learn about the organizations that make pride possible in Florida, here is a list of the nonprofits that organize pride events all across the state:

  • Bay Pride of Panama City: An offshoot pride division of the LGBTQ Center of Bay Pride County
  • Come Out With Pride: According to its website, Come Out With Pride “welcomes everyone from Central Florida and beyond to come together and #KeepDancingOrlando”.
  • DeLand Pride: Deland Pride aims to provide a positive force in Volusia County through its many LGBTQ+ events and festivities, including the annual pride celebration, the Pulse Remembrance night, and Drag Bingo.
  • Manatee Pride: A fundraiser benefit for ALSO Youth, Manatee Pride has been serving fun and community to the Bradenton, Gulf Islands, and Manatee area for 7 years.
  • Miami Beach Pride: One of the most popular pride celebrations in Florida, Miami Beach Pride is a week-long celebration culminating in a two-day festival and parade on Miami’s sunny shores. 
  • Naples Pride: Founded in 2017, Naples Pride is an all-inclusive, family-friendly event that draws in thousands of people to Cambier Park in downtown Naples each year.
  • Pasco Pride: This organization runs the annual Pasco Pride Fest, which happens in Heritage Park in Land O’ Lakes in October of each year.
  • Polk Pride: The annual celebration of Polk Pride is a project of the Lakeland Youth Alliance, a peer-based youth group that supports other events and organizations in Polk County and beyond.
  • Pride Cape Coral: A relatively new nonprofit that brings in pride in March of each year. The annual celebration is in its third year now. 
  • Pride Fort Lauderdale: The oldest pride celebration in Florida, Pride Fort Lauderdale has been around for over 40 years. They are, in part, the reason why Fort Lauderdale is one of the gayest cities in the US.
  • Sarasota Pride: A non-profit that brings “Pride in the Park” to Sarasota in October of each year. 
  • Space Coast Pride: A volunteer-run nonprofit that organizes the annual Space Coast Pridefest.
  • St. Pete Pride: Arguably the biggest pride fest in Florida, St. Pete Pride is a month-long celebration that includes a concert, a parade, a massive street festival, and pocket events happening all over St. Pete.
  • Tampa Pride: Tampa Pride is celebrated every May in the historic Ybor City, a vibrant neighborhood that is lovingly called the “LGBTA Main Street for The West Coast of Florida”.
  • Venice Pride: Founded in 2018, Venice Pride is one of the younger organizations on this list. They have brought Pride to the Venice area in June for three years now.
  • Wynwood Pride: In 2021, Wynwood Pride – which serves Miami – is looking to put a spotlight on local Wynwood businesses, integrating local shops and bars into the pride experience. 

Final Thoughts

Florida is known for its colorful and diverse people, so it makes sense that the sunshine state is teeming with LGBTQ+ organizations willing to lend a helping hand. 

Each of the organizations on this list has unique programs and resources, with some of them specializing in helping certain groups or addressing specific issues. No matter your situation, you’ll find an organization to assist you! All you need to do is reach out.

Photo by Jordan McDonald on Unsplash

***Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.

Written by Rachel Covello

Rachel Covello is an award-winning speaker, writer, diversity consultant, and LGBT advocate. She is the Founder of LGBT Equality Alliance, a Chester County, PA nonprofit organization, and CEO of OUTCOAST, an online marketing and concierge platform marketing the Gulf Coast as an LGBTQ-inclusive place to VISIT, CELEBRATE, and LIVE.

Rachel is also an avid event photographer and has captured photos for LGBT organizations around the world, including the IGLTA, NGLCC, NLGJA, and Out & Equal.


Our Sponsors & Community Partners

X