In New York City the GLBTI Community Services Center has been a hugely important resource and cultural hub for more than 25 years.

Today, thanks to the efforts of many dedicated locals, the greater Asbury Park area has its own GLBTI community center – the Jersey Shore Q Spot, which, in years to come, will prove as invaluable to people here, as the Center is in New York.

“We are here to support, provide programs and social activities for, youth, seniors and everyone in between in Monmouth and Ocean Counties,” stated Mary Ann Buchanan, chairperson of Q Spot.  “A virtual network is great, but being regularly shoulder to shoulder with people who support one another is still important.”

The Q Spot, run by volunteers and donations, is comprised of four main initiatives:  youth, senior, health and family.

“We developed four initiatives after reviewing the results of a needs assessment survey, which resulted in more than four-hundred responses from GLBTI in two counties,” Mary Ann stated.

In addition to the confidential, casual group socials held every Monday evening at the Visiting Nurse Association building on Main Street in Asbury Park, the Q Spot organizes “Quesdays” – informative educational seminars held the first Tuesday evening of every month.

“Our weekly Monday socials are a friendly place for adults to meet and hang out,” Mary Ann stated.  “Quesday seminars are geared towards issues that impact the GLBTI community’s lives every day, like finance, health and relationships.”

I attended the Monday meeting recently and met a kind, welcoming group of people – most strangers to one another.  By the end of the evening, everyone was exchanging phone numbers.

“Beyond our regular meetings and Quesdays, the most exciting initiative we have right now is a support group for the youth in our area – from Red Bank to Long Branch to Toms River,” Mary Ann continued.

My Q Space – brilliantly named by the 13 to 19 year old members of the group – offers a safe environment where GLBTI youth, including those questioning their sexual orientation, can meet to engage in peer support activities.

“As adults, it’s our responsibility to provide youth with a place to start,” stated Mary Ann.  “Q Spot is the only group of its kind for teens in the area.”

Last week, My Q Space members played miniature golf on the Boardwalk.  Seeing the spirit in each teen’s eyes was inspiring.

A similar type of group in Northern New Jersey proved immensely helpful to me in understanding that I was not alone in my gayness, when I was way younger.  It takes a village.

The Q Spot also offers programs such as a book club – the Book Q LUB – at the Point Pleasant Library and a Family Initiative at Father David Stout’s Trinity Church.

Go Q Spot.

For meeting calendar, or to donate to the youth initiative: JSQSpot.com.