Local nonprofit aims to support and educate LGBTQ, allies

The organization has a Little Free Pantry that they keep stocked and people are welcome to take what they need when they need it.
The organization has a Little Free Pantry that they keep stocked and people are welcome to take what they need when they need it.

Credit: Michael Knote

Credit: Michael Knote

Executive director and founder of Have A Gay Day in Northridge, Michael Knote, said he wouldn’t have guessed that a Facebook page started in early 2012 would become a nonprofit with a host of free services and programs nine years later.

Have A Gay Day has officially opened at its new location at 1902 Needmore Road in Dayton. The organization aims to create a safe space and education for members of the LGBTQ community and its allies.

The 2100-square-foot multi-use resource center is a food pantry, pet food pantry, personal care and winter warmth distributor that supplies those in need with space heaters, knitted hats, scarves and gloves through collaboration with other nonprofits.

Have A Gay Day also has a lending library where people can either take or leave books.
Have A Gay Day also has a lending library where people can either take or leave books.

Credit: Michael Knote

Credit: Michael Knote

“The work that we’re doing is about community service and is about giving back and also...humanity, that we are just people and it’s not about some agenda. The agenda is the service,” Knote said.

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The organization started as a Facebook page in 2012 in memory of Jamey Rodemeyer, a teen in Buffalo, New York who committed suicide; he had not come out to his family and was also bullied. After his death the Facebook page served as a place where people could get away and be themselves.

“Initially when I created the page, I wanted to create a fun, safe, happy place where people could escape,” Knote said. “(Rodemeyer) was on Tumblr and social media; he was not out to his family and took his life over the whole situation.”

Support for members of the LGBTQ community is something personal for volunteer and board member Naomi Tellis who has been a volunteer for three years.

Entertainment area at Have A Gay Day where they plan to have educational events, weddings, and other gatherings.
Entertainment area at Have A Gay Day where they plan to have educational events, weddings, and other gatherings.

Credit: Michael Knote

Credit: Michael Knote

“It’s very important to me because as a Black woman I have had conversations with young African-American people who are LGBTQ and are not able to come out because they’re afraid. In the communities we live in there’s no representation,” she said.

Tellis said she doesn’t want people to take their lives due to a lack of support.

Knote said the Facebook page gained popularity from the name. “When I started this there was no thought of a nonprofit,” he said. “People took to the name and to the posts because I created a lot of graphics, and blew it up.”

Knote said giving back and helping those in need is personal to him as he has been homeless and hopes to have a living space for homeless people in the future. They are also working towards having free laundry services for those in need.

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