Fantastic Ideas

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

What do you get when five non-profit organizations, a handful of volunteers, and two trail blazing super heroes—otherwise known as social workers—come together in the basement of an inner city church? “A mash up,” that’s what characters from FOX’s hit series Glee would call Q-Spot. “It’s like community center meets nightclub, minus the alcohol and plus extra fun,” remarks one teenaged attendee.

Outside it’s a regular Saturday night in downtown Philly. Everyone is either going to a party or looking for a party to crash. Those who walk by the block of Broad and Spruce peek into the gaping mouth of the church, curiously drawn to the bass line rhythm pumping out of its wide open doors. “If you’re under 21 and you know about your sexuality, where are you going to go to meet other people like you?” Quincy asks, referring to the alcohol free event. He and his co-conspirator, Noel, are the key masterminds behind the project whose goal is to provide a safe space for queer identified young adults. You can tell they are passionate about the event in the way they relate it to their own experiences. “When I was younger I remember hanging out on street corners” Quincy says looking around at the blinking traffic lights across from the Kimmel Center. “There was nowhere else to go,” he adds, turning to make room for a woman about 22 leading a pack of her friends into the building.

The entrance is a flush of wide-open space. Once inside all curiosity is appeased by the warm energy of the glowing lights and any preconceived fears about churches and LGBTQ issues seemingly fade away. A table sits welcomingly in the middle of the foyer and is tended by a bobbing, smiling, group of volunteers. While handling bites of free pizza they gesture to clip boards and a small pile of pens. There’s no cover, the pizza, drinks, and wings are free, but like any non-profit group the only thing they ask is that you mark down your attendance.

When asked about the use of a church for LGBTQ night life (albeit one as liberal and inviting as the Broad Street Ministries) Quincy replied, “I believe the fact that it’s in a church makes it that much more appealing. It’s a safe house.” The issue of teen violence, specifically “gay on gay” violence as Quincy puts it, is high on the list of evil forces this team of super heroes is out to fight. The two are proud of the positive energy that constantly lures new guests to join the party. June 2nd was the fourth installment of this non-traditional party space and will continue every 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month. Once passed the foyer DJ Manik—yet another volunteer—blew up the dance floor. Manik looked all to comfortable on the stage with head phones hanging off of one ear, warming up the crowd for the night’s main performer, Philly’s own Tony Enos. The dance floor was center to the event, but definitely not the main reason folks are encouraged to come. The hall opens into comfy side rooms where the community center portion of the event is held. This includes housing referrals, mental health services, STD screening, HIV testing, and other educational resources such as tutors.

It is open to anyone looking for a safe space, ages 18-29 and is made possible by a community collaboration of the Dorothy Mann Center, Educational Justice Coalition, Council for Relationships, and the Foyer of Philadelphia. By generously donating the space for Q-Spot, the Broad Street Ministries church has come to represent a clearer understanding of the term, “holy ground.”

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