By Sal Miller
With a lot of passion and drive for her work, Stephanie Reyes has been working at the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC), located in Cooper-Young at 892 S. Cooper, for a little over a year as the Youth Services & Volunteer Manager. The 27-year-old New York City native moved to Memphis in 2013 and quickly found her place. Her job has a broad scope and involves reaching LBGTQ youth in the city to provide a safe environment where kids can address any problems they might have and to help build healthy relationships with each other. She works with the school systems, addressing issues such as bullying and LGBTQ awareness. Stephanie also works with homeless youth in Memphis. The MGLCC has a Youth Emergency Services (YES) program including a food pantry, interview clothes, and hygiene kits available for them.
Currently there are two support groups available to youth through the MGLCC.
The first is PRYSM and is a safe, fun space for 13-17 year olds to meet friends and get support. If a school doesn’t have a Gay-Straight Alliance, rainbow, or queer group (or even if it does) youth can join them on and get to know other teens. There is a fun program every week, good grub, and a group of young people ready to welcome anyone. PRYSM meets on the first and third Thursday nights of each month from 6:45p.m.-8 p.m.
The second group is called GenQ. It is a safe place for 18-25 year olds to meet friends in their community looking for something to do on Friday nights that aren’t a bar or club. A “college budget” meal is cooked every Friday night. Come hang out, bring friends (and your appetite), and meet new people in the community. Free food and adventure! Gen Q meets every Friday night from 7-10:00 p.m. If you are a parent or a teen and want more info about PRYSM or GenQ, you can call the MGLCC at (901) 278-6422 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The MGLCC also has a wide range of youth services, including free HIV testing, a transgender support group that meets every Monday night, men’s and women’s potlucks, women’s movie night, women’s book club, and an AL-ALON meeting, as well as the MGLCC’S Cultivating Positive Relationships (CPR) which meets on the 2nd Tuesday of each month. If you would like more information about any of the MGLCC’s services, please visit their website at mglcc.org or txt MGLCC at 22828 to get added to their email list.
“You don’t have to be gay to use or benefit from any of our services, but I think a more important message is to spread the word that we are here.,” says Reyes. “We are the only center for almost 200 miles in every direction, so we represent a huge population in the Mid-South. And yet I have met so many Memphians that didn’t know that we were here. So go out and tell someone! Bring someone in for a tour. Come get an HIV test. Whatever the reason, come in and find your place within our LGBTQ community.”
When Stephanie isn’t busy reaching out to LGBTQ youth, she loves to explore Memphis.
“I love Memphis because you can find something to do every single day,” she says.
She also works at Huey’s and enjoys taking her dog, Mickey, to the dog park, singing karaoke, and playing softball in the local adult gay league.
The CYCA has always been proud to have the MGLCC in our community and feels that they, and people like Stephanie, are vital assets to keeping our community strong and building better relationships. She is great addition to our city, to the MGLCC, and to Cooper-Young.