Orlando’s LGBTQ+ community hub, The Center, has reopened following a 3-year renovation project, reports Naseem S. Miller in the Orlando Sentinel.

A $200,000 grant from Orlando allowed The Center’s interior to be completely renovated, creating more space for it to serve the community.

The transformed Center includes a computer center, a “coffee shop” style lounge, and two new HIV testing rooms.

Orlando
Newly renovated LGBTQ+ center. Image via Orlando Sentinel.

As crucial as The Center’s HIV and AIDS-related services and free mental health counseling are, its function as a social space for the community is also vital.

Despite the perception that community spaces are no longer necessary because of the rise of social media, Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan saw the difference they made in the wake of the Pulse massacre.

“Nothing can tell you how important those face-to-face contacts were more than June 12th and 13th,” she said. “Because people need a place to embrace one another, to hug one another, and you can’t do that online. That’s why a brick and mortar space is so critically important to us and will continue to be important to us.”

The Center now features a number of art pieces created by Susan Carlo, a New York City-based artist, as tributes to Pulse: fitting décor for an institution that stopped renovations temporarily to focus all its energy on helping Pulse victims in the wake of the attack.

Read the Orlando Sentinel article here.