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The OutFront Kalamazoo LGBTQ center is not letting the COVID-19 pandemic slow down its operations. Instead of shutting down, the center is using its resources to implement some organizational changes — the latest being a new logo and redesigned website. Amy Hunter is the executive director of OutFront. She said the change was a long time coming.
“We have a lot of subgroups that are programs at OutFront Kalamazoo that have a totally different look to their branding. People were really confused; they didn’t know that they were attending a group that was a part of OutFront Kalamazoo,” Hunter said. “So, in an effort to help the public and the people we serve, it was time to consolidate the brand.”
The new logo, which is a Pride flag in a swirl, is meant to visually represent the merger of the organization, OutFront Kalamazoo, and the annual event Kalamazoo Pride. All of the subgroups run by OutFront Kalamazoo will have a look that is similar to the main branding. In addition, it means to convey that together, it is a diverse, inclusive and well-connected organization. The new website will improve accessibility to information about programs being held, services, events and resources. Communication platforms have also been linked to the website.
“We do a lot of anti-racism work, too, so much of our work is intersectional. I think that this is going to serve us better as a logo in this way,” Hunter said. “It doesn’t lock us into just the LGBTQ community. It leaves the door open for allied and intersectional communities also.”
These new adjustments to OutFront signify the next phase in the organization’s transformation and journey to be more inclusive. In 2017, the organization changed its name from Kalamazoo Gay & Lesbian Resource Center, which excluded the bisexual. transgender communities and greater queer communities. Although the organization still offered services to these communities, the name still played a large role in affirmative inclusion. With the name change, OutFront organizers hope it will inspire others to play a part in advancing social justice and achieving equity for the entire LGBTQ community — not just the “L” and “G.”
“We are sort of growing again and changing directions — becoming more professionalized is one way to put it. OutFront is expanding our ability to offer services and support to the entirety of the LGBTQ+ community,” Hunter said. “I started thinking, ‘How we can become more than just Pride? More than the group that puts on the Pride festival every year and does youth programming?’”
OutFront may be based in Kalamazoo, but it is getting more involved in statewide initiatives and movements as the years go on. Legally the organization is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that prevents it from getting involved in politics, however, the organization does everything else in its power to educate the general public about LGBTQ issues and the ongoing fight for equal rights. Although it is not the biggest, OutFront is one of the oldest LGBTQ resource centers in the state of Michigan.
“We want to help our communities have better life outcomes — to live their best life as opposed to struggle,” Hunter said. “That is my aim as executive director: How can we always be leading? How can we always be ‘OutFront?'”
For more information on OutFront Kalamazoo and the services provided, visit outfrontkzoo.org.