NewsMarch 24, 2023
In Our Own Voices Kicks Off 25th Anniversary Celebration Announcing New LGBTQ+ Center
In Our Own Voices (“IOOV”), Albany’s only center serving the LGBT people of color community, celebrates its 25th Anniversary this month. The center began its anniversary celebration with an event outside of their Lark Street/Center Square building where plans for the new In Our Own Voices LGBTQ+ center were revealed. IOOV staff and board members were joined by community leaders and elected officials.
IOOV shared plans for the new LGBTQ+ center expected to open in 2024, made possible by a combined $1.25 million in funding secured by U.S. Representative Paul D. Tonko and Albany Mayor Kathy M. Sheehan. The center will allow the organization to enhance and expand their services to the community, including increased HIV/Hep-C testing, ensuring the center is ADA compliant with wheelchair access, and providing a co-op space for other local grassroots organizations.
The center will also service marginalized BIPOC sexual minorities in need of housing and rapid rehousing with four residential units on-site, including one unit designed specifically for senior LGBTQ individuals. Outside of New York City, there is no other center within New York State with this mission.
“Being able to celebrate our 25th year means a great deal to myself and our team. We are honored to have served our local community for this long and thankful to have the support of everyone here with us today,” said Tandra LaGrone, CEO at In Our Own Voices. “We are committed to continuing to fight for our BIPOC LGBTQ+ family here in the Capital Region and beyond and we hope to be here for another 25 years.”
Chiquita D’Arbeau, executive director of the Albany Housing Authority, also announced plans for IOOV’s first satellite office, increasing their capacity and accessibility to continue work. “We will continue to form partnerships across government agencies and the private sector to improve living experiences for our residents in the City of Albany,” said D’Arbeau.
In Our Own Voices received several proclamations from Tonko, Sheehan, Assemblymember Patricia A. Fahy, Assemblymember John T. McDonald, Albany County Legislator Matthew T. Peter, and Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy. Sheehan also declared Thursday, March 30, 2023 “In Our Own Voices Day” in the City of Albany.
The anniversary celebration continues with the IOOV’s 25th Birthday Party at the State Room in Downtown Albany on Saturday, March 25. The cocktail party will feature drag performances and music. Tickets can be purchased at IOOV.org
Later this year, IOOV will host BIPOC Pride on Saturday, June 10, Jazz In July on Saturday, July 22, and Unity Through Diversity from Wednesday, Oct. 25 to Sunday, Oct. 29. One new event coming later this year will be IOOV’s Halloween Ball as part of the first ever Halloween Festival coming to Albany in Fall 2023.
IOOV has served over 600,000 individuals in their 25 years of operations, both locally and nationally. Their regular services extend to seven different Capital Region counties. IOOV is one of the oldest LGBTQ organizations serving the Black, Indigenous, and People of color (POC) community in the nation.
IOOV advocates on a local, statewide, and national level, ensuring voices and experiences of LGBT POC are at the table and amplified. The organization states their purpose is to develop leadership and strengthen voices of LGBTPOC in order to effectively communicate perspectives within larger communities, as well as to increase capacity for combating oppression and marginalization.