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SD celebrates state's first LGBTQ resource center

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Tuesday, October 31, 2023   

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for next week as a South Dakota organization begins serving LGBTQ individuals at its new resource space.

The Transformation Project, a support network, just opened its Prism Center in Sioux Falls. It is being described as the first and only such location within the state.

Jack Fonder, community health worker for the nonprofit, said it will mainly serve two purposes: Those identifying as LGBTQ, as well as their families, can come in for guidance on various services; and activities such as game nights provide an avenue for people to gather and hang out.

"Just know that they're in the presence of other people that share their life experiences and then they're making those lifelong connections that they can keep," Fonder explained.

He pointed out feeling connected is important with another legislative session on the horizon. South Dakota is among the conservative-led states in recent years adopting policies deemed hostile toward the LGBTQ community. The center opened its doors last week and the formal welcoming ceremony is scheduled for Nov. 8.

Fonder acknowledged residents from far-flung parts of South Dakota still might find it difficult to visit the Prism Center. He hopes the Transformation Project can branch out in the future to reach more areas. But he added the new community space will still be important to a lot of people.

"It's a pretty big deal," Fonder contended. "The LGBTQ-plus community in the area, they don't really have a safe place to hang out other than maybe like a bar?"

Fonder explained other features will include support group meetings with an online option. And the Transformation Project will house its Marty's Closet operation at the new center, which provides free gender-affirming clothing.


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