LGBTQ+ center Destination Tomorrow opens its doors to the community in Atlanta recently. Known for providing crucial services including healthcare, career readiness and financial literacy, the organization, which started as the only LGBTQ+ center in the Bronx, heads south to expand access to underserved communities in a city with a large LGTBQ+ population of color. Destination Tomorrow believes that everybody deserves to have access to a space where they can grow, learn and flourish, regardless of their sexual identity or gender expression and without having to leave their own neighborhood.
“We are thrilled to expand our organization nationally and open our first location outside of New York City. Atlanta has a large LGBTQ+ population and, specifically, is home to many Trans and Gender Non-Conforming (TGNC) individuals of color. Organizations’ services often cater to white LGB folks and, as a Black Trans man, I recognize the importance of representation and saw a need for a center with a community-led approach,” said Sean Ebony Coleman, Destination Tomorrow’s founder and executive director. “We pride ourselves on being closely connected with the community and are looking forward to building relationships with and responding to the specific needs of LGBTQ+ folks in Atlanta.”
Atlanta is often deemed as the LGBTQ+ epicenter of the South and home to one of the highest LGBTQ+ populations per capita. One of most pressing issues concerning the community in Atlanta is youth housing insecurity, with a quarter of youth experiencing homelessness identifying as LGBTQ+. Destination Tomorrow aims to work with the community on closing the gap in resources and increasing overall Black TGNC representation.
Destination Tomorrow Atlanta is located at 1419 Mayson Street NE in a freestanding building with plenty of space for the community to gather. Starting today, the center is offering services including HIV prevention initiatives with a focus on Trans masculine folks in partnership with Gilead Science Zeroing, substance use support and COVID-19 mapping funded by the CDC to assess the pandemic’s impact on communities of color. Over the next months, Destination Tomorrow’s services will expand to the full spectrum of programs including educational, financial, health and personal support that are offered at the New York location to become available for the Atlanta LGBTQ+ population.
Destination Tomorrow Atlanta is also providing free office space at the center for two TGNC-led organizations – Ubuntu, a local non-profit providing supportive programming for Trans folks, and I am Human Foundation which works to dismantle societal barriers for the LGBTQ+ community – to alleviate the burden of rent and ensure their resources can go to services for the community instead. Understanding the significance of lived experience when it comes to adequately supporting the community and establishing trust, Coleman is a crucial supporter of TGNC-led organizations around the country. Through Gilead Science’s TRANScend fund, he is the only Black Trans grant maker nationwide, providing vital funding to community-led organizations.
Since opening its first location in 2009, Destination Tomorrow has served more than 50,000 individuals in the Bronx and administered hundreds of HIV tests. Coleman also led the opening of a local food pantry in response to food insecurity due to COVID-19, started the “SWITCH” program which offered housing to former or current sex workers 25 or over and become the only independent General Educational Development (GED) testing site in New York State to create a safer testing experience. As the organization expands nationally, Destination Tomorrow aims to address the needs of these communities beyond New York City and offer services and programs based on feedback from the community.