© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WEDH · WEDN · WEDW · WEDY
WECS · WEDW-FM · WNPR · WPKT · WRLI-FM · WVOF
Public Files Contact · ATSC 3.0 FAQ
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

'A proud day for Bridgeport': City gets its first LGBTQ+ pride center

The Pride flag waves at the Margaret Morton Government Center during the city's annual flag raising June 17, 2024 in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Eddy Martinez
/
Connecticut Public
The pride flag waves at the Margaret Morton Government Center during the city's annual flag raising on June 17, 2024 in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Leer en español

Marcus Brown remembers growing up in Bridgeport as a boy, and while many of his peers struggled with their identities, they didn't have to worry about their safety in doing so. He said having a dedicated place for LGBTQ+ teens would have made things less stressful for him.

“It would have made it a lot easier for me to come out,” Brown, now a state representative from Bridgeport, said.

State Rep. Marcus Brown speaks at the city's annual pride flag raising. Brown is the interim executive director of the Bridgeport Pride Center, the first to open in the city. (June 17, 2024 in Bridgeport, Connecticut.)
Eddy Martinez
/
Connecticut Public
State Rep. Marcus Brown speaks at the city's annual pride flag raising. Brown is the interim executive director of the Bridgeport Pride Center, the first to open in the city. (June 17, 2024 in Bridgeport, Connecticut.)

But now, he said things will get easier, as the city welcomes its first pride center dedicated to area LGBTQ+ teens. The Bridgeport Pride Center, opens on June 20, days after the city’s annual pride flag raising and a year after it was first announced.

A place to gather

The city once had a thriving LGBTQ+ cultural scene centered around bars, according toJohn Brannelly, a local LGBTQ+ advocate, but that’s long gone. Many people now head outside of Bridgeport to be in third spaces where they can feel safe, but Brown said that left out LGBTQ+ teens. 

Elliot Leonard, co-founder of the Fairfield-based Leonard-Litz Foundation which donates to LGBTQ+ causes, speaks at the city's annual Pride flag raising. Leonard gave $100,000 to the city's first pride center, opening June 20th. June 17, 2024 in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Eddy Martinez
/
Connecticut Public
Elliot Leonard, co-founder of the Fairfield-based Leonard-Litz Foundation, which donates to LGBTQ+ causes, speaks at the city's annual pride flag raising. Leonard gave $100,000 to the city's first pride center. (June 17, 2024 in Bridgeport, Connecticut.)

Other pride centers in surrounding areas such as New Haven and Norwalk are also far and out of reach for those who don’t have a car. So advocates and philanthropists like Elliot Leonard, the co-founder of the Leonard-Litz Foundation, based in nearby Fairfield, helped with a $100,000 grant to the center. 

“Last June is when we made a statement, February, we signed a lease, and Thursday we have our grand opening and it's a proud day for Bridgeport,” Leonard said.

The center is located at 166 Elm St. in the downtown area.

Meeting the need 

Brown and other advocates said the new center will meet a pressing need, as many LGBTQ+ people in the city continue to confront homophobia, transphobia and challenges accessing compassionate health care.

Brown said local community groups told him the local population needs help accessing resources, mental health treatment, guidance, and just getting a space they can call their own, especially once school ends for the summer.

The pride flag waves at the Margaret Morton Government Center during the city's annual flag raising June 17, 2024, in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Eddy Martinez
/
Connecticut Public
The pride flag waves at the Margaret Morton Government Center during the city's annual flag raising June 17, 2024, in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

“They have youth who specifically have said to them that they need a place to go with other people who are like them, and that's just what we hope we can provide in the short term,” Brown said.

The center’s services will include amenities and emergency resources.

The center will also have amenities like a computer lab, a library and a game room for kids. It’s also located near several transit options, including city bus routes and the Metro North New Haven train line.

While Bridgeport Pride Center received widespread support among residents and elected officials, Brown said hateful comments were made against the center on social media in recent weeks. Those comments make having a safe space to gather in-person even more important, Brown said.

Reflecting on his youth, he said had to find his own identity largely on his own without the support from local LGBTQ+ community members, but many children in Bridgeport will no longer have to do so.

“I wish I had something like this,” Brown said. “I would have loved to live more of my life as authentically as possible.”

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.

Related Content