Fort Myers isn’t the most gay friendly city. Like many other Florida towns and cities, Fort Myers leans toward the conservative side.
Fortunately, there’s a beacon of light. Visuality, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the Fort Myers LGBTQ community. Whether you’re a victim of bullying or you just want to get to know some like-minded people, Visuality strives to help you.
The History of Visuality
Arlene Goldberg is the co-founder of Visuality. After her local P-flag closed, Arlene decided to start her own in Fort Myers. At one of the meetings, Arlene met Carrie Keohane. A mother of a transgender daughter, Carrie saw a need for more support for the local LGBTQ youth. Together, Arlene and Carrie discussed the issue. They co-founded the Rainbow Connection and held meetings at the Unitarian Universalist Church, a Fort Myers church that shows strong support for alternative lifestyles.
Eventually, the duo came across an offer for free space at an office building. Seeing an opportunity to provide even more support for the Fort Myers LGBTQ community, Arlene and Carrie moved into the space. They decided to make their program into an Incorporation, and they designated it a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Although Arlene had many rewarding experiences as a supporter of the gay community, this moment was her most rewarding. She couldn’t believe her dream of helping the local community made it so far.
The name “Visuality” was not Arlene or Carrie’s doing. Rather, it was the idea of a youth who attended the program. By 2011, Visuality was an established nonprofit that made a difference for LGBTQ youth.
Today, Visuality is slightly different than it was years ago. Instead of only providing support to youth, it also provides support to everyone in the Fort Myers LGBTQ community. Here are some examples of the events they sponsor:
1. A 40+ monthly community brunch for the LGBTQ community
2. Holiday Parties
Throughout the year, Visuality hosts holiday parties. Usually, the events take place at the Unitarian Universalist Church. However, you can find more information about their holiday events on their Facebook page.
3. Educational Events
In the past, Visuality has hosted education events. For example, in April 2018 they hosted an educational seminar about HIV and STDs. The organization also posts educational links on their Facebook page.
The Future of Visuality
Currently, Visuality works to strengthen the local LGBTQ community. They are working on fundraising enough money to hire a paid employee. As of now, the organization only has volunteers running operations.
In addition to hiring paid staff, the organization also hopes to have their own facility. Arlene explained that she wants a safe place for members of the community to “be themselves.” In a city with only one designated gay bar, there is a high demand for such a place.
For now, Visuality will continue to support youth through education and leadership development. They also continue to support the adult community by sponsoring social events and educational opportunities. The organization is based out of the All Faith Unitarian Congregation.