Out in Las Vegas: The Center

Published Date Author: , April 28th, 2014

Let’s start with something that’s both Vegas and really gay. A couple years ago, a local gay man named Robert L. Forbuss passed away, and left a pile of money to the Las Vegas LGBT Center to build a new facility. The group took over an old paint store and built a sparkling new center, one of the best we’ve ever visited, and it just opened about a month ago.

Las Vegas Gay Center - Sign

Las Vegas Gay Center - EntryAt the corner of Maryland and Clark, it’s just a few blocks from Fremont Street and downtown. As you walk in, you’ll notice the basketball court to the right. And inside, you’ll find a spacious, high-ceilinged, welcoming space.

Las Vegas Gay Center - Bronze CafeThe Center has an award-winning cafe that features vegan cuisine, but if you’re not a vegan, never fear – they have plenty of carnivore options too.

We tried the Green Goddess chicken salad sandwich – made with a basil-aioli mayonnaise, it was amazing. The chicken had a great flavor – a little savory and a little sweet, complimented with fresh greens and an even fresher roll of bread and a side salad.

Las Vegas Gay Center - Loving vs. VirginiaAnd the sweets! Our favorite – the Loving vs. Virginia – “the legal marriage of a chocolate chip cookie and a brownie” (pictured at the bottom of the photo on the right) – or so the adorable guy behind the counter informed us.

The Center functions as a community center for both LGBT groups and the straight community. Some 40 groups have regular meetings there, and there’s a youth drop-in center that opens every weekday at 3 PM for marginalized youth.

Las Vegas Gay Center - Youth CenterHector Esparza, the youth group co-ordinator, is justifiably proud of the work they do there to help kids stay in school, even if they are homeless, and put together a better life. Although they do not yet directly offer social services, they have links to many groups and agencies who do.

There are computers for visitor use (max 2 hours a day per person) – and although they don’t generally allow printing, they do make an exception for things like resum├ęs for job seekers.

Las Vegas Gay Center - Lending LibraryThere’s also a large book library (lending is free) of predominantly LGBT books, and a DVD lending library too, filled with gay films. We even found a few while we were waiting to add to our Netflix queue. They also have a number of free local and national LGBT magazines and other resources.

The Center has partnered with a health clinic that offers free hiv and std testing – just around the corner at the back of the building.

The center regularly holds special events – next month, it’s the youth prom, with an expected 400 youth aged 13-24. They also hold periodic conferences. We’re encouraging them to add a weekly or monthly mixer for visitors coming to town – in the meantime, you can check their calendar here to see what events may be going on during your visit.

Las Vegas Gay Center - Gender Neutral BathroomThe bathroom here is also a nod to the center’s mission – it’s a mixed gender space, with separate walk-in water closets for each of its toilets. Nevada passed a law protecting transgender access to bathrooms in the state in ___, but the Center takes it a step further.

The Wynns (think Steve Wynn, casino owner) are major donors to the Center, and have a room named after them.

One half of the interior is set up with movable walls, and the rooms can be opened up into one large space for bigger events.

If you get the chance, come out to The center and check it out – it’s an amazing space, and they are doing great work for Las Vegas’s LGBT community there.

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