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Back to School: A Course Catalog

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Tuesday Sep 24, 2013

Summer's over, so it's back to school for you! Thanks to your local LGBT community center, there is a full complement of classes, courses, lectures and activities aimed to help you maintain your health, improve your mind or learn a new skill. From managing stress, to improving your relationship, to simply boosting your self-esteem, taking a class can make your overall life better. So get your Trapper Keeper ready, because it's time to hit the books!

The Center: New York’s LGBT Community Center

208 West 13th Street?
New York, NY 10011

In addition to offering cultural, mental health and social services programs, The Center has for years encouraged people to make use of its space by renting a room for a reasonable fee and holding the classes they choose, be it dance classes or public speaking.

"People usually come here because they want to explore their interests in an LGBT context," says Director of Capital Projects Robert A. Woodworth. "People want to play their instrument with other LGBTs, so they come to the Big Apple Corps’ band practice. It makes life more interesting and enjoyable for people."

Woodworth said that whatever your background, education or life experience, maintaining a curiosity about the world around you is part of what makes life worth living. Doing it at the Center just gives it that extra boost.

"You can go out in New York and find other figure drawing or dance classes, but it’s different when you do it here with the gay community," adds Woodworth. "And I think anything that helps people be more fulfilled in their lives is enriching the community as well as the individual."

Knit and Schmooze: ?Sometimes your brain works better when your hands are busy. Bring needles and yarn. Third Mondays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Contact

Acupuncture Clinic: Licensed acupuncturist Dylan Stein offers free pop-up clinics for ear acupuncture stress relief and general wellness. Walk-in treatments about 30 minutes. All are welcome. Fourth Fridays from 2 to 8 p.m. Visit

Gay and Lesbian Art Group: Get together and make art with like-minded LGBTs. First Thursdays from 8 to 10 p.m. Call 212-431-4532.

Gay Geeks of New York: Get your geek on in real-time, with this monthly social gathering for LGBTQ geeks of all backgrounds and ages. Discuss your favorite comics, video games, TV shows, books and more with fellow geeks of all genres. Trivia contests at every meeting. Second Sundays from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. $5. E-mail Nic at

Gay Men’s Male Figure Drawing Group: Enjoy nude men? Like drawing? This is the class for you.?No reservations required. Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. $15. E-mail

NYC Gay Men’s Shamanic Circle: An open circle for gay men, performing shamanic journey work for the purpose of healing on many levels, including ourselves, our community and the planet. First Sundays from 12 to 1:15 p.m. $10. Contact

Pride Toastmasters: Improve your speaking, presentation and leadership skills in a gay-friendly environment with the only LGBT Toastmasters Club on the East Coast. Learn new skills to enhance self-confidence and personal growth in a fun and supportive atmosphere. Thursdays from 6:15 to 7:30 p.m. $72 for six months. Call 917-596-5699 or e-mail

Village Contra: Learn to dance at the Contra Dance?Ecstatic American folk dance, with live music. No partner or experience needed. Fridays at 6:30 p.m. $12. Call Carol at 718-972-3191 or visit

Boston Living Center/Victory Programs

29 Stanhope Street?
Boston, MA 02116?

The Boston Living Center/Victory Programs offers ongoing education to improve the lives of people who are living with HIV/AIDS. Programs include those that increase adherence and nutrition, such as their Tuesday-Friday free lunch program and Monday-evening dinners. Classes range from those that help increase self-esteem, like social art and computer classes, to the biannual LIFE program.

"For us, the primary concern around ongoing education is how to maintain a balanced health and wellness while living with the virus," says Prevention and Education Coordinator Morrigan Phillips. "There are so many things on the medical side, from taking medications, recurrent infections like Hep B or conditions like diabetes. So we work around the issue of adherence, but then also do programming around stress reduction, life goals, planning and more holistic programs."

Cyberspace Computer Classes and Labs: Learn how to use basic computer programs and social networking apps. Mondays from 2 to 7:45 p.m., Tuesdays-Thursdays from 12 to 5:45 p.m., and Fridays from 12 to 4:45 p.m. Learn more at

Healthy Relationships: Get tips on navigating social situations, including speaking about your HIV status. Each week, the course discusses how to navigate and manage stress around disclosure and whether (and how) to disclose to friends, family and potential partners. The five-week course is offered six times a year. Call 617-236-1012 ext. 245 or e-mail

Bridges for Life: This daily support group helps members enhance medication adherence and address such stressors as housing, substance use, emotional health, isolation and side effects. A different topic is discussed each day. No registration required; light breakfast included. Daily at 10:30 a.m. Learn more at

Hola! Hello!: Improve your English or Spanish skills through a low-key, fun and social language exchange. Small activities and language dictionaries help you get started. Wednesdays and Fridays during lunch. Learn more at

Spirituality Group: Come talk about issues of spirituality and health in a welcoming and supportive space with Rev. Bruce Baldwin. Mondays from 7 to 8 p.m. Call 617-236-1012.

The LIFE Program: BLC’s 13-week LIFE (Learning Immune Function Enhancement) program helps PLWHAs see how they are doing on 28 co-factors of having HIV, from HIV health and sexual health to medication, physical well-being, self-esteem, forward thinking, sleep, exercise, a sense of safety and stress levels. Each week, the course takes on a different set of co-factors and life skills around managing these stressors, using small group discussions, exercises and learning from one another’s experiences. Course includes a textbook, journal and homework. Free. Learn more at

Beaded Jewelry Making: Learn how to string and make beaded jewelry. Tuesdays from 1 to 3 p.m. Learn more at

Express Yourself: Get in touch with your feelings through drawing and painting. Fridays from 1:30 to 2:45 p.m. Learn more at

"Folks here can access any of our services for free -- they just have to sign up to be a member," said Phillips. "It’s free and open to anyone who is HIV-positive, regardless of income,, stage or diagnosis."

L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center

McDonald/Wright Building
1625 North Schrader Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90028-6213?

Hold on to your Hollywood Hills, because the West Coast gays rock the Learning Curve, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s continuing education program. For upwards of 15 years, this program has offered to more than 1,200 people a year classes from hang-gliding and surfing to playwriting and health.

"One thing I have learned is that self-esteem is a really big issue in our community that nobody talks about," says Program Manager Ruben Romo. "It impacts every layer of who we are, and Learning Curve is one of the possible solutions. People come in because there is something they want to change in their lives, and these types of classes help them find the answers they are looking for, whether that be growing a career, being a better partner or developing a new skill. It helps our community grow as a people."

Classes range from popular adventure classes to a recent documentary short film class, with the intention of creating a library of documentary shorts to tell the community’s story. The classes do have a small fee, as Romo explains: "We work on the concept that if something is free, we tend to devalue it, but if it costs a little, people will take it more seriously. We don’t charge a lot, but it puts value on each class, and it’s priced so anyone can afford to take classes with us."

HIV+ Writers Workshop: This free weekly workshop provides people living with HIV a safe space to express their thoughts and feelings. In-class exercises foster artistic expression through the written word. Guest authors present public readings. All levels are welcome; pre-interview required. Weekly starting September 2013. Call 323-860-5828.

Walk on Water: Learn stand-up paddle boarding in this instructor-led course. Boards and paddles are provided, and most students are standing up and paddling within the first hour of class. At Santa Monica Beach. Call 323-860-7300 ext. 3 for more info.

Flying High: Hang glide over Dockweiler State Beach in this personal aviation course. Basic training workshops are followed by six or seven rides per student. Insurance and liability waivers required. $149. Call 323-860-7300 ext. 3 for more info.

Wave Riders: Beginning surfing classes teach you about the history of longboard surfing plus all the basics. By the end of the second class, all students should be able to get to their feet and wide the waves. Longboards provided. Call 323-860-7300 ext. 3 for more info.

Branding Yourself Online: Find success in business by understanding how to use social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. At the Village at Ed Gould Plaza. $49. Call 323-860-7300 ext. 3 for more info.

Writing for the Stage: This six-week intensive workshop teaches tools and exercises to master the craft of writing for the stages. Benefit from group discussions and class readings of works in progress. $99. Call 323-860-7300 ext. 3 for more info.

Words & Music: Learn the art of writing for musical theater and how to navigate the world of tempos, rhythms, verse-chorus, legatos and backbeats in this six-week course with Mark Saltzman. $99. Call 323-860-7300 ext. 3 for more info.

Sketch and Sip: Enjoy summer with a cold beverage and a live nude male and female model. Come together with artists to sketch, talk and relax. Also offered in September is the new Gesture Figure Class by Daniel Ribera. Drawing pad and pencils not provided. $25. Call 323-860-7300 ext. 3 for more info.

Chicago’s Center on Halsted

3656 North Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60613

Center on Halsted’s community and cultural team creates and hosts a wide array of fun, interactive and engaging programs enjoyed by members of the entire community. Events range from volleyball games in the gymnasium to dance recitals in the theater. They host regular receptions showcasing local LGBTQ artists and special events for LGBTQ families and friends.

"We are excited to present a diverse set of education programs," says Director of Community and Cultural Programming Lynnea Karlic in a press release. "We think this will appeal to teenagers, college students, adults and seniors, with such an incredible lineup of LGBTQ experts from our community."

Queer Yoga: Join other LGBTQ individuals for beginner yoga to stretch and strengthen your muscles and recharge your energy. Students must bring a mat. Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. $5 to 15. Visit

Introduction to Computers: This seven-session class is for those who need general computer knowledge and skills. Each two-hour session will teach hardware and software, mouse and keyboard skills, how to navigate Windows, working with files and folders, and exploring the Internet and e-mail. $60. Call 773-661-0730.

Queer Tango: Instructor Paola Bordon allows individuals and couples to explore leading and following in this LGBT tango class. Dance partners rotate throughout class. A secondary level is also available. Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. $15. Visit

Chicago Artery Workshops: Get in touch with your inner artist via this free programming featuring such classes as wrap dolls, headline poetry and self-portrait linoleum blocks. Tuesdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Free. E-mail or call 773-472-6469 ext. 456.

Women’s Art Series: Got a little bit of Kandinsky in you? Experiment with Kandinsky’s Compositions by painting with other lesbians, guided by landscape artist Sheri Rush. Find harmony in beauty; the second part of the class is a group painting. $25. Visit

GED@Center: Prepare to take the GED exam with reviews in language arts, science, government and mathematics, with info on the Illinois Constitution exam. Assessment mandatory. Free. E-mail or call 773-472-6469 ext. 438.

Lavender University: Join John D’Emilio for a lecture on the 1930s Marine Cooks and Stewards Union’s move to become a multiracial, left-wing and queer-friendly labor union, plus a variety of other topics in the series. At Hoover-Leppen Theatre. $25. Visit

So you love these classes but don’t live in New York, Boston, L.A. or Chicago? Never fear! From computers to crafts to same-sex ballroom classes, chances are that your local LGBT community center has something to grow your mind, spirit and skills.

The Phillip Rush Center
1530 DeKalb Ave., Ste. A, Atlanta, GA 30307

Resource Center Dallas
2701 Reagan St., Dallas TX 75219

The Center
1301 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO 80218

Ft. Lauderdale
Pride Center at Equality Park
2040 N. Dixie Hwy., Wilton Manors, FL 33305

Las Vegas
The Center - The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada
401 S. Maryland Pkwy., Las Vegas, NV 89101

Miami Beach LGBT Visitor Center
1130 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139

New Orleans
LGBT Community Center of New Orleans
2114 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70116

The Center Orlando
946 North Mills Ave., Orlando, FL 32803
407-228 8272

Palm Springs
The LGBT Community Center of the Desert
611 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Ste. 201, Palm Springs, CA 92264

William Way LGBT Community Center
1315 Spruce St., Philadelphia, PA 19107

Rhode Island Pride
1005 Main Street, Suite 1105, Pawtucket, RI 02860

Provincetown Chamber of Commerce
307 Commercial Street (at Lopes Square), Provincetown, MA 02657

San Diego
The San Diego LGBT Community Center
3909 Centre Street, San Diego, CA 92103

San Francisco
The SF LGBT Center
1800 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

Lambert House
PO Box 23111, Seattle, WA 98102

Washington, DC
The DC Center for the LGBT Community
1318 U Street NW, Washington, DC 20009

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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