A Group For Every Kind At JTCC

By Shelby Clark

Fresh off Equality Cabaret, the benefit for the Michigan Marriage Challenge, Ann Arbor's Jim Toy Community Center continues its LGBT support and activism into the spring and beyond.

JTCC has been serving the LGBTQ community of Washtenaw County since 2010 (formerly the Washtenaw Rainbow Action Project), providing "information, education, social events and advocacy by and for the queer and ally community." In particular, the recent Equality Cabaret on Feb. 23 helped benefit a lesbian couple who's suing Michigan for the right to co-adopt their three children.

Jim Toy has had an illustrious career in Michigan's LGBTQ community. He co-authored Ann Arbor's non-discrimination policy on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression and co-founded the Spectrum Center; he's also a founding member of the Ann Arbor Gay Liberation Front, PFLAG/Ann Arbor, GLSEN/Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Area, WRAP and the Out Loud Chorus.

One of the highlights of the center is the many LGBTQ groups that meet weekly, semi-weekly and monthly. These regular groups center around various activities and events throughout the year, but have meetings around specific elements of the community. Many of these groups are focused on elements of sexuality. JTCC's Bisexual Peer Group meets the third Sunday of every month from 4 to 6 p.m. Red Robot, an ageplay group, meets every first Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m.

Ann Arbor TNG is a fetish/kink group for young "kinksters," focusing on support, demonstrations, discussion and socializing. The group considers itself pansexual and welcoming to all regardless of gender or gender role identification. The group meets every third Tuesday from 8 to 10 p.m. E-mail cutesubtoy@yahoo.com for further details.

The Polyamory Network focuses on people living polyamorously and is open to people interested, curious or friendly to the community. Meeting on third Thursdays at 7 p.m., the group welcomes "diversity of sexual orientation, gender identity, family constellation and spiritual path."

LGBTQ struggling with certain issues can find support in an already inclusive environment. Because We Are Worth, held the first Tuesday of every month starting at 6:30 p.m., is a local meeting for LGBTQ and allies dealing with sex addiction.

Weekly events of this nature also include Regardless Of (Narcotics Anonymous), which meets every Sunday at 7 p.m, and GLBT AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) every Saturday from 8 to 9 p.m.

Interest-specific meetings find a home at JTCC as well. Gay Business Networking meets on the second Friday of every month at 8 a.m. The networking group meets to unite LGBT business owners and professionals, working to foster support and business amongst professionals while also serving as a place for business leads and referrals. More specific information can be found both on JTCC's site and at www.gaybusinessnetworking.com.

Many lesbian groups at the center deal with certain hobbies. Older Lesbians Organizing meets on second Fridays at 7:30 p.m. in the spring and summer, and the second Sunday of the month at 1 p.m. in the fall and winter. The group works to provide older lesbians a place to share common struggles and mutual interests and experiences. Jackie can be reached at jasmithers@sbcglobal.net for more information.

Lez Red Ann Arbor is a book group for lesbian women meeting every last Saturday of the month from 4 to 6 p.m. Books chosen for the often lively and provocative discussion revolve around lesbian topics and sometimes feature local authors. Meetings are free and open to the public. E-mail lezread@yahoo.com for questions on the current book being covered.

Rainbow Book Club also features LGBT book readings, open to all ages, genders and orientations. The group, which reads both classic and contemporary literature with LGBTQ themes, meets on second Sundays from 4:30 to 6 p.m. For specific info on this inclusive JTCC group, visit JTCC's site or http://sitemaker.umich.edu/queerbookclub.

The most recently added group, Toastmaster's International SpeakOUT! Club, helps LGBTQ and allies learn how to communicate effectively. Focusing on building leadership skills and confidence in speaking, the group meets the second and fourth Thursday of every month from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

For more general reasons to visit JTCC, the first Monday of the month features their finance committee meeting, with board meetings on the last Monday, all running from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Every Monday features a drop-in night from 7 to 10 p.m.

To host a new group at the center, e-mail terrym@jimtoycenter.org.

The Jim Toy Community Center is located at 319 Braun Court in Ann Arbor. For more information on the center, call 734-995-9867 or visit www.jimtoycenter.org.

For other LGBT organizations in the area, check out BTL's Yellow Pages at www.pridesource.com/directory.html.

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