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'It means a lot' | Sacramento LGBT Community Center holds annual Chosen Family Feast

According to a 2021 report by nonprofit 'The Trevor Project', only 1 in 3 LGBTQ youth found their home to be affirming of their identity.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Sacramento LGBT Community Center's annual Chosen Family Feast on Thanksgiving this year was all about holding a safe space for people in LGBT+ communities to come together for the holiday.

The LGBT Community Center is a non-profit organization that "works to create a region where LGBTQ+ people thrive." That includes:

  • Supporting the health and wellness of the most marginalized
  • Advocating for equality and justice
  • Working to build a culturally rich LGBTQ+ community

Dawn Huebner is one of dozens who attended to the holiday event on Thursday.

Huebner, along with her wife, recently moved to Sacramento from New Hampshire. She says she's thankful for the opportunity to spend the holiday with chosen family.

"It means a lot," Huebner told ABC10. "My wife and I have been in Sacramento for only a few weeks. We do not know anyone. We really wanted to meet the queer community when we came to Sacramento. This event was a great way to jump into that. Both of our families are far away. Some, we are not in touch with."

The Center provided a traditional Thanksgiving meal for more than 100 people, including turkey with all the fixings. Games, raffles and more also came with the event.

"A chosen family or a found family are special people that many of our queer and trans communities have found along the way to support their development," LGBT Community Center chief program officer Koby Rodriguez (he/him) said.

According to a 2021 report by the nonprofit, The Trevor Project, more than 80% of LGBTQ+ youth stated that COVID-19 made their living situation more stressful — and only 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ youth found their home to be identity-affirming.

A 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center showed about four in 10 adults in the community were rejected by a family member or close friend because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

"Thanksgiving is a day where we get to celebrate with our families and share what we're grateful for," said Lanz Nalagan (he/him), Annual and Corporate Giving Director for the LGBT Community Center. "But we want to be mindful that a lot of folks in our community may not be accepted by their families and want to spend the holidays with chosen family."

It comes at a challenging time in the communities after five people were shot and killed inside Club Q nightclub in Colorado Springs Saturday night.

The LGBT Community Center remembered the victims of the massacre by creating a seat at the table with photos of each person. 

"We're reminded with the tragedy that took place in Colorado Springs that there are not enough safe spaces for us, even behind closed doors," Rodriguez said. "It's important for everyone in our communities to create these spaces, not just the LGBT Community Center."

The Center also changed the name of the annual event from "Friendsgiving" to "Chosen Family Feast" this year to show respect to Native communities, who recognize this time as "Indigenous Day of Mourning."

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