When Nan Todd came out over 20 years ago, the only place for her community was a bar. Today she leads an effort to give a safe space for anyone and everyone.
The Glo Center offers a space for young people of the LGBT+ community to gather and interact in a safe space.
Established in 1996, the Glo Center has provided the community with advocacy, outreach, programs and activities for LGBT+ people to grow and learn about their identity.
“LGBT youth are already at risk for the simple fact that they are LGBT+,” said Nan Todd, president of the Glo Center.
Todd has been an LGBT+ activist in the Springfield community over twenty years. She is highly regarded by her peers as being one of the key reasons Glo is the longest running LGBT+ organization in Missouri.
“Nan is a great leader,” said Mandy Monsees, local trans-rights activist and head of communications for the Glo Center. “Nan listens to everybody’s ideas, she’s very interactive with you as far as communicating.”
“She is fantastic,” said Michelle Jackson, a board member. “She’s been in a position of leadership so long; she searches out opportunities and brings them back to us.”
Todd said she has seen children coming from situations that leave profoundly painful impacts on their lives.
“The act of being rejected by your family, those traumas,” Todd said looking down to her fingers as if they were staring back. “PTSD, anxiety, depression, all of that compounds with them, and they’re just kids.”
According to Monsees, anyone can feel rejection if they feel no connection to their community so it is essential to establish a place for people who feel isolated.
Todd said the support network Glo seeks to offer is a necessity for kids dealing with rejection.
“When I came out, I had moved to Kansas City thinking I would find more resources and the only one was a bar,” Todd said with a half-smile and solemn eyes. “Our goal at The Glo Center is to be 100% inclusive for everyone, no matter who they are.”
Todd stated that a place to congregate to is essential for all LGBT+ youth.
“You don’t go to the bar to talk about ‘how do I navigate these suicidal thoughts’ or ‘how do I apply for college’ or ‘how do I find a bed tonight?” Todd said.
The environment for LGBT+ people in the past few years has been, according to Todd, “five steps forward, three steps back.”
“In the last 10 years we gained the right to marry who we want,” Todd said. “But in the past few years we’ve seen some regression.”
Todd explained that the backdoor entrance to the center is important because of the aggression seen towards the community.
“There are so many people who want to be there or need to be there, but they can only safely come in through the back,” Todd said. “The ‘okayness’ that society is having towards being hateful gives permission for people to discriminate.”
Todd said the current presidential administration is at fault for the regained attitude of hatred for her community and others.
“We see transgender individuals not being able to serve in the military and rights being rolled back and that creates a lot of fear in people,” Todd said.
Monsees is a transgender veteran.
“I work at T-Mobile, they recently just sent me to New York City for the Veteran’s Day Parade,” Monsees said as her eyes gazed down to her hot pink nails. “I was the only transgender veteran at the parade.”
Todd emphasized that because of this attitude,The Glo Center has become even more important for the LGBT+ youth.
“The transgender community has been under attack for the past few years, just this year alone there are 14 bills in the Missouri capitol right now against LGBT people,” Onsees said. “In almost all states there are bills specifically against trans people.”
Onsees stated that the fear within the community is something that needs to be met head-on and with the intent of answering the questions of anyone confused by the community.
In addition to all of these problems, 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT+.
“Many of them are homeless because of violence in the home and being kicked out by their parents,” Todd said. “They’re experiencing homelessness because their families reject them.”
Todd, who was at an event for the homeless, said their intent is to find those people and give them the help they need.
Jackson, through a quivering frown and a hand clutching a pin reading “free mom hugs,” said she finds it difficult to rationalize abandoning your child willingly.
Todd, Onsees, and Jackson all gave the same conclusion, that no one deserves to feel rejected because of who they are.
The Glo Center is located at 518 E Commercial St, Springfield, MO 65803. Their number is (417) 869-3978, and their email is firstname.lastname@example.org.