After a long break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Source LGBTQ+ Center’s Hanford pop up is once again providing support, information and advocacy to Kings County residents.
The resource center for Tulare and Kings counties, began hosting monthly "pop up" meetings at Kings County Behavioral Health in the spring of 2018 before discontinuing the program due to safety concerns during the pandemic.
Now the program is back with expanded services and weekly meetings.
“We had quite a big group [coming to meetings] and when COVID happened, it kind of limited us,” said organizer Alix Carranza. “It feels like a family and when we’re missing someone, you really feel it.”
The groups met virtually throughout the pandemic, Carranza said, but it didn’t offer the same level of camaraderie as meeting in person.
“It’s nice be able to have dinner and to see others and be able to relate to others who are maybe going through some of the same things you’re going through and be able to converse comfortably without anybody questioning you,” said Carranza.
The meetings held every second and fourth Thursday of the month at 6 p.m. are open to anyone in the LGBTQ community, as well as allies. Meetings often have a brief theme, offering information and resources on a particular topic that affects the community, as well as offering a safe environment for people to communicate freely.
The pop up meeting on the third Thursday of the month is dedicated to those who are transgender or gender variant and focuses on issues relevant to that community.
An HIV-positive support group, open to LGBTQ people living with HIV, is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. every first Thursday of the month. Due to health concerns, the meetings take place via Zoom. Those interested in joining can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
In-person meetings are currently limited to 10 people and masks are required. Those interested can RSVP on The Source’s Facebook page or email Carranza at email@example.com. Kings County Behavioral Health is located at 60 Kings County Dr #101.
Carranza is hoping to implement an online element to the in-person meetings in the future so that those interested can join in from home.
A Hanford resident, Carranza first began going to the pop ups as a guest before the pandemic. Jumping at the chance to become more active with The Source, he graduated from the organization’s leadership academy program and is now facilitating and organizing the pop up meetings.
“I was looking for representation and I wanted to find individuals who were going through things I was going through,” he said.
Now that the pop ups are offering regular services again, Carranza said that he’s hoping that word will spread and that anyone who needs help or information will be able to find what they need through The Source.
“I think there’s a need here in Kings County for the LGBT+ community,” Carranza said. “There’s not much here in Kings County for us. It can be hard. For a long time, it felt like people were hiding or something like that, but one of the big mottos we have at The Source is ‘you don’t have to be out to come in.’ Everyone is welcome and you don’t have to say anything to us that you don’t want to.”
The Source will host a belated Pride celebration at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 23 in Visalia.