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Kansas City Nonprofit Opening Safe Space For Black LGBTQ Community

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D. Rashaan Gilmore
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D. Rashaan Gilmore is the founder and CEO of BlaqOut KC.

BlaqOut KC, founded with the mission of eradicating HIV/AIDS from the local Black community, will open a physical safe space for Black LGBTQ residents.

The Kansas City nonprofit BlaqOut is planning to open a physical "safe space" in Midtown dedicated to serving the city's Black LGBTQ community.

"It will be very much FUBU," said D. Rashaan Gilmore, BlaqOut president and CEO, on KCUR's Up To Date. "For us by us, but open to all. It will just have a very distinctive cultural bend towards the Black community."

BlaqOut KC was founded with the intention of stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS among Black men-seeking-men in Kansas City. It's since broadened to encompass the entire LGBTQ community, offering services like health care access for underserved individuals, PrEP advocacy and COVID-19 vaccinations.

For years, BlaqOut has provided a metaphorical safe space in Kansas City. But Gilmore says the conversation around racism in the LGBTQ community is still developing.

"The reckoning has not happened where Kansas City has come face-to-face with the fact that there's a great degree of racial discrimination under the rainbow and within the LGBT community," he says.

Gilmore says many of Kansas City's LGBTQ friendly spots are in theory open to all, but in practice don't include Black queer individuals.

"They don't always feel welcoming, they don't always feel very warm and we don't see ourselves reflected in the programming or social activities that take place," Gilmore says.

Gilmore says that a dedicated physical location will help BlaqOut mobilize the community against HIV/AIDS stigma and violence, create "skill building opportunities" for those who encounter discrimination at school or work, as well as expand their event offerings.

BlaqOut plans to release more information about the safe space in the next month.

Trevor Grandin is an intern for KCUR's Up To Date.
Brian Ellison is a guest host of talk shows, newscasts, special coverage and community events for KCUR. Follow him on Twitter @ptsbrian.