For an area rich in diversity, Milwaukee needs organizations to cultivate acceptance, education and understanding. Diverse and Resilient is an answer to that call. Established in 1995 by Gary Hollander, PhD, D&R has become a safe space for teens and adults in the LGBTQ community.
President and CEO, Gerry Coon says, “our goal is to eliminate health disparities between LGBTQ people in Wisconsin and our heterosexual peers.”
Located on N. Holton Street, Diverse and Resilient is an independent, non-profit agency that reaches over 5,000 LGBTQ people every year. D&R is a strong advocate for HIV and STI testing and prevention as well as teen pregnancy reduction in Milwaukee.
Sexual health is a topic that needs voices and education. D&R provides supportive programs like Healthy Girls, Safe Dates, 414ALL condom campaign and HIV and STI counseling, testing and referral. They recently opened a new HIV/STI testing location at 76th and Mill Road– an area lacking in services.
In addition to outreach in Milwaukee, D&R does work in cities across the state including Appleton, Eau Claire, the Fox Cities, Green Bay, La Crosse, Madison and Racine. In these areas, Diverse and Resilient focuses on healthy relationships and intimate partner violence, substance use (alcohol and tobacco), and leads the Rainbow Alliance for Youth (RAY). RAY provides an opportunity for LGBTQ youth statewide to work together in creating leadership skills and inclusive programs that address LGBTQ health.
“Through our staff, we are connected to the African American community in Milwaukee,” says Coon. “We’re part of this community and we’re a place people can feel comfortable coming to.”
For those seeking to be an LGBTQ ally, Diverse and Resilient provides ally training. In Ally Trainings, people can learn that an ally is someone who supports, advocates for, stands up for, and speaks out in solidarity with members of a marginalized group. The D&R website includes a curriculum review for public health issues and information. Here, anyone can learn about examples of everyday oppression, how to ready a community for inclusion and education, and how to cultivate an accepting workplace environment.
When asked what interested Diverse and Resilient in the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Coon stated, “We should support our fellow LGBTQ organizations. I’m thrilled to see how many businesses understand that supporting the LGBTQ community is also good for their business.” He goes on to say the Chamber’s work with Employee Resource Groups is a positive “game changer” for Milwaukee.
For more information on Diverse and Resilient, follow them on Facebook or visit their website, http://www.diverseandresilient.org.