Spartanburg has been an up and coming city for the LGBTQ+ in the terms of the community growing and blooming. With groups like PFLAG, Out & About, and Monthly Mingle for adults to connect, and the LGBTQ+ Youth Group hosted by Anchoring Within LLC for those in 7-12th grade, the community has come a long way. Even with these steps toward furthering toward a safe place for all, they are only monthly events and Spartanburg still lacked a more involved, permanent place, especially for the youth; this is when the UpLift OutReach Center was created.

The UpLift OutReach Centers’ goal is to be “a safe place for homeless and at risk youth who identify as LGBTQ+” and offer resources and support to those who don’t get it elsewhere. The center is open every Tuesday and Saturday for ages 15-19 at 3:30-6:30pm, and Saturdays 1-3pm for ages 10-14, in Fernwood Baptist Church (please contact the center for updated hours). UpLift isn’t only helping with the heavy things, but as well as doing fun activities. It’s common to see the teens playing Cards Against Humanity, ping-pong, pool, or planning the centers upcoming events; Two events that are big on the minds of the students right now are the upcoming Halloween party and Uplifts’ first table at the annual Upstate Pride parade.

It’s obvious to tell the youth who attend the center love it and that it was well needed. Sebastian Lambert, 17, says, “It gives me a place where I feel safe and I don’t have to be nervous about being how I am”, and Alistair DiLaurentis, 18, adds, “It makes me feel safe, and I’ve made a lot of friends. I can’t wait for each meeting to come”. Board President, Deb Foreman, and Tanna Thompson, Program Coordinator, keep everything in order and do a lot behind the scenes but the youth are in charge of what they want to do with this space and how they do it: after all, it is for them. Giving these teens a place to express themselves and to be heard by not only their peers, but adults too, is no doubt going to leave a lasting impact in the Upstate area.

This article was originally posted by Tristyn Vincelette at The Cavalier in November of 2019