GALA/LA would like to to address some concerns that seem to have emerged within the community regarding a couple of issues.
First GALA/LA would like to clarify that we work with every one of the growing mosaic of LGBTQ organizations in Lethbridge and others in Calgary, Medicine Hat and beyond. We continue to respond to requests for support and sponsorship by providing money, volunteers and supplies and equipment when asked. There is not a single support request that GALA/LA has not responded to positively. And even beyond our community, partnerships with organizations in the larger community continue to increase. That rich mosaic of groups each has their own mandate, structure and process. Each is responsible to their own membership as determined by the structure that they developed and GALA/LA supports and affirms the autonomy each group maintains.
The second subject where it seems some concern has arisen is around the same-sex dances held in November. First, the women’s dance was held at the request of a number of women in the community and was in fact very well received. The event had about 50 people present and was successful enough that many attendees, some of whom were at their very first GALA dance, asked that the event be repeated.
The men’s dance was a response to requests by several GALA/LA members, asking that we also hold a men’s dance if we held a women’s dance. Perhaps the reason for the limited response was due to the difficult weather or maybe the men’s community here really isn’t interested in men’s only events that are so popular in larger centres. Many of the men in attendance had genuinely looked forward to it and regardless of the reason people chose not to attend, GALA/LA was responding to input from its community.
The New Year's Event was also a request from some members of the community but low ticket sales meant that GALA/LA had to make a decision to be financially responsible and cancel the event. Perhaps the reality is that LGBTQ people do not need dances of their own in the same way that they did even three or four years ago. We are hearing that the queer community in Lethbridge can and DO openly attend other events and dance establishments and that is something that we should celebrate. But for those who do enjoy dancing and spending time in “queer” space, mark your calendars....the next GALA/LA dance is scheduled for Saturday, January 22!
Finally, as 2010 comes to a close, we want to share with you all the many accomplishments, successes and amazing steps forward that GALA/LA has made in the past eight months, each one of them with you, the members of the LGBTQ community in mind.
1. The current GALA/LA board has strengthened the organizational structure by developing good policies to govern and protect the organization. Procedures and policies ensure responsible and respectful governance.
2. The committees have been streamlined under key areas of operation.
3. Strong partnership development has been a hallmark of the past year. As a result GALA/LA has a strong presence in the larger community and is involved in and invited to an increasing number initiatives and events such as Pink Shirt Day, Homeless Connect and City Council presentations.
4. GALA/LA is an a partner in the “Pangaea” Diversity Cafes, along with Lethbridge Family Services Immigrant Services, the Aboriginal Council of Lethbridge, Lethbridge Regional Police Service, Womanspace, the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association, YWCA, the City of Lethbridge, the Lethbridge CMARD committee and the Government of Alberta (Culture and Community Spirit.) GALA/LA works within this partnership planning these opportunities that provide the people of Lethbridge to meet new people of different cultures, backgrounds & experiences at the Pangaea Café.
5. A strong partnership has been developed with the Lethbridge Regional Police Service (LRPS). In the first quarter of 2011 a meet and greet/information evening with members of the LRPS will be held. And the most exciting development will be the appointment of a formal Liaison Committee that will meet regularly with members of the LRPS to discuss issues and ideas to increase the safety of our community.
6. GALA/LA was a sponsor, partner & participant, as well as an active participant on the planning committee of the "Building Bridges" diversity conference along with Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination (CMARD), The City of Lethbridge, Lethbridge Regional Police Service, the University of Lethbridge, Aboriginal Council of Lethbridge, Lethbridge Family Services, Southern Alberta Ethnic Association and the Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone.
7. GALA/LA continues to respond to increasing numbers of requests by institutions, community-based and non-profit organizations for education & awareness on issues faced by members of the LGBTQ community.
8. A very successful all candidate's forum was organized for the municipal election.
9. A much needed group for LGBTTQ youth in Lethbridge and area will kick off in late January, 2011.
10. GALA/LA has made a commitment to provide opportunities for area LGBTTQ people to create community. Some of the events organized to meet the diversity represented in our community are rafting hiking, bowling, a book club, trans coffee nights, and dances.
11. As well GALA/LA has completely re-developed the website. Set to launch in mid-January, the site is highly functional and includes a calendar and many interesting resources. We will announce the launch date soon.
12. Last and perhaps most importantly, although it means working differently, GALA/LA has made a commitment to engage and serve the rich diversity of the LGBTTQ community.
And so it is our hope the these concerns can be laid to rest and that GALA/LA, along with the other members of the rich mosaic of LGBTQ community organizations and passionate individuals can be focused on the work of creating a city and region free from all forms of oppression, discrimination and violence.
The Board of Directors of GALA/LA