Curtis Lipscomb, Executive Director of LGBT Detroit

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o identify as an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) person can bring up a lot of questions, says Curtis Lipscomb, founder and executive director of LGBT Detroit. He explains that this nonprofit organization, located in Midtown Detroit's TechTown district, is meant to be a place where people can find answers.

"You don't lightly come into this space as a stranger, get a cup of coffee and think that your needs are met," Lipscomb says. "This is a youth-led space where people in leadership are young adults who know exactly firsthand what you need and know how to get what you need in a way that maybe someone older may not."

Founded as KICK: The Agency for LGBT African Americans in 2003, the organization's mission was born from the KICK Publishing Company started by Lipscomb in 1994. The publishing company's focus on highlighting the African-American LGBT community helped launch the second-oldest Black gay pride celebration, Hotter Than July, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year.

The evolution into a nonprofit organization centered on community development was a reflection of a communal need, says Lipscomb.


"While we were developing the magazine and other kinds of print media, we were also doing community development," he explains. "We didn't know we were doing social justice work. And while we were publishing people's art, opinions and day-to-day actions, we began to think about why don't we concentrate (more) on community development work. So it made sense for us to continue to share our story, but we had to figure out a different way."

Rebranding as LGBT Detroit earlier this year, Lipscomb says the organization shares its story by empowering young adults to take ownership of their own stories by offering support groups, information on health initiatives and professional training programs such as the LGBT Detroit Leadership Academy-a social justice training program for LGBT youth and allies.

"I know that people that enter here, they get something very different," says Lipscomb. "I think what they get is a concentration of where they are and where they want to go in this space, and I think the evidence is in the LGBT Academy graduates."

Since the start of the LGBT Detroit Leadership Academy in 2012, the academy has graduated 47 participants who have learned to be positive agents of change in communities that reach outside of their own, says Lipscomb.

"The movement is diverse. It is dynamic. There isn't one type of LGBT community, because there aren't just one type of people," Lipscomb says. "It's a different world." And LGBT Detroit is a reflection of that.

National Coming Out Day

Celebrate National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11 by volunteering with LGBT Detroit.

"We need people to tell the mission of our nonprofit and fundamentally talk about who we are and what we do in the community," says Curtis Lipscomb, founder and executive director of LGBT Detroit. "If you come on site, there's a ton of things that can happen here. Outreach is big with us, and we go to rallies, expos, exhibitions and summits all across the city and state. We have friends all across the country that volunteer in some type of capacity, but we need people here to primarily tell the community about our mission."

For more information on volunteering at LGBT Detroit, call 313-285-9733 or visit

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