by Jenn Bradford
Out Boulder County (OBC) has served and advocated for the LGBTQ+ community since 1994. They are the largest LGBTQ+ organization in the state and region and offer community, education, youth programs, direct aid grants, events, support groups and health and wellness support. Recently, OBC expanded their offerings to address vaccine hesitancy in the community and behavioral health needs including mental health and substance recovery support.
In response to the hesitancy observed in the LGBTQ+ community, OBC expanded their programs to include education and access to vaccines for COVID and Mpox. “We took our health equity mission to a grander scale. We ended up with the first study of LGBTQ people and vaccine hesitancy in the nation,” states Executive Director, Mardi Moore. To support the health and wellbeing of the community, OBC provided over 4,700 COVID vaccines last year. She adds, “government systems are scary enough for people who have all their rights, but when you talk about immigrant communities or you talk about the LGBTQ+ community, we don’t trust government systems at the same level with good reason. So, people are more likely to trust an organization like Out Boulder County than they are to trust public health agencies.”
The pandemic also exposed the community’s need for a larger community center. OBC’s staff grew as their programs expanded to meet growing community and pandemic-related needs. While keeping their old location as a behavioral health services location, they moved to their current space, the Equality Center of the Rocky Mountains, which has 9,500 square feet– plenty of space for community gatherings and events.
From the new location, OBC continues to deliver their programs for youth and added a new behavioral health program. Last year, they provided program services to over 500 youth. On the behavioral health front, OBC is now in partnership with Boulder County and runs the Point program. Mardi describes it as “a point of entry so within 48 business hours a person reaching out to us [can] be placed with a therapist or case manager. . . We begin immediately trying to work to find them a long-term placement.” If you need to reach out to OBC, the number is 303-499-5777.
OBC has also recently become involved with advocating for legislation. They are very proud that the Fairness in Data Collection Act passed, which “mandates the collection of sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, race and ethnicity data for public health entities,” according to their website. This data will help address health concerns within the LGBTQ+ community. This year they are pushing HB23-1057 “Amenities for All Genders in Public Buildings” which provides fair and family friendly restrooms in all newly constructed or renovated public buildings.
With all the work that OBC does in the county and beyond, it needs true allyship from all members of our community. In the last few years there has been a noted rise in anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment. You can sign up for OBC’s newsletter, become a corporate sponsor for a Pride event, donate, or volunteer. More information can be found on the website outboulder.org. Boulder Pride Festival is June 11; Longmont Pride Festival is June 30; Lafayette Pride on the Plaza is June 15; Lyons Pride is June 17; Erie Pride is June 4; Broomfield Pride is June 3.