New East Bay Location at Oakland LGBTQ Community Center
I visited Oakland's new LGBTQ Community Center one afternoon a few weeks ago. I arrived a little early, and I found myself waiting outside with two other people for the doors to open. Within minutes, I began learning about their stories, their values, and the creative projects they're working on. We traded contact information, and we made plans to meet again for lunch. I thought to myself: this is exactly how a community center should work! If this Center can bring people together even outside of its normal operating hours, it's a good sign of things to come.
Some background about my practice: A gay man myself, I've been providing LGBTQ counseling and therapy since 2011. As a grad student, I managed SF Crisis Services for The Trevor Project and completed my clinical traineeship at Queer LifeSpace in the Castro. Even before my clinical training, I worked in the field of LGBTQ activism and movement building for nearly a decade. I started building my private practice in SF in 2014. I reside in Oakland with my husband and wanted to do more to serve the community where I live, so I expanded to the East Bay last year. I've been fortunate to share a lovely office building in Berkeley near Rockridge with a group of other providers, many of whom are also LGBTQ. Even though I'm connected to an incredible community of queer therapists throughout the Bay Area, running a private practice can feel isolating. It's easy to lose touch with the vibe and pulse of the community I set out to serve.
That's one reason I made a very big decision: At the beginning of March, I'm closing down my Berkeley office and moving into the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center by Lake Merritt! I'll be at the Center on Fridays, joining with them in our shared mission to promote the health and well-being of LGBTQ individuals, our families, and our allies throughout the East Bay. By moving my office to the Center, I am reconnecting with my roots in community activism and service. I'll be working alongside many other LGBTQ service providers, artists, and professionals who share a commitment to some core values: diversity and inclusiveness, activism and social justice, and working for the psychological and spiritual health of our community.
Co-founded by community activists Joe Hawkins and Jeff Myers, the Center is a multi-ethnic, multi-generational community space that provides social, educational, and health-related programs each week. Visit their website to check out the calendar and upcoming events.
I sat down with Joe in his office earlier this month, and we ended up talking for two and half hours! He told me about his aspirations for a diverse and inclusive community space that serves all of us, his hopes to bring together and support people who are already doing good work throughout our community, and his appreciation for the team of volunteers who give their time and energy to make this vision a reality. I also had the opportunity to meet many of these volunteers, and I've been inspired by their grassroots, roll-your-sleeves-up-and-do-it-yourself approach.
Beginning in March, I will be providing therapy for individuals and couples at the Center on Fridays. Everyone is welcome – you don't have to be connected to other programs at the Center, and you don't even have to be LGBTQ-identified yourself! I specialize in mindfulness-based therapy for gay men on issues related to anxiety, shame, internalized homophobia, relationships and intimacy, aging, and living with HIV/AIDS. I am also planning a number of groups in the coming months, including:
an 8-week LGBTQ Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction class
an intimacy and communication workshop for same-sex couples
a meditation and personal growth group for gay men
I'll still be in my SF office on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Please be in touch to discuss services or possible collaborations. And swing by the Center when you're in the neighborhood!