Open Letter: First 100 days at Hudson Pride

Michael Billy Executive Director of Hudson Pride
Michael Billy Executive Director of Hudson Pride

As the new Executive Director of Hudson Pride Center, I wanted to share with you some feelings on my first 100 days. Within my 100 days, I’ve spoken often on the vision for our future Center and the proud path we are on to open an LGBTQ youth shelter that specializes in Trans Youth. But today, I’d like to take the opportunity to invite you to be present with me as we remind ourselves of who we are right now.

We are a home and voice for the diverse LGBTQ community and our allies that advocate for our physical, mental, social and political well-being. We create safe and vibrant spaces to gather and celebrate our lives. We are dedicated to improving not only individual lives, but also the communities we serve each day through our advocacy efforts and on-going commitment to social and economic justice. We are the place a social worker can bring a youth when they have been kicked out of their home for being LGBTQ. We are the door a person knocks on when they want to feel understood and free of judgement. We are the space where our community comes to laugh and celebrate themselves. We are the phone that people call when they are in crisis. We are a Center that asks ourselves every day how we can help each other feel loved and cherished.

While our home may have a new address in the future, this core principal will remain the foundation of our organization.

It’s time for us to make a newer and better deal with ourselves. For our community Centers to take an active role in fulfilling the void left by a system that has failed us, we must co-create the world we want to live in; a world wherein we don’t just settle for creating more jobs, but we put an end to poverty. A world where we do more than survive but thrive. A world where we are brave enough to take a hard look at our education system and  be willing to make the necessary reforms.

At Hudson Pride Center, our team is taking on this mission everyday. Our outreach team is committed to providing professional training and education to facilitate changes in attitudes and behaviors amongst youth, professionals, and those who work with the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS communities.

Some members of our community experience albeit unintentional yet still pervasive community marginalization. Our clinician services help governmental entities to better identify existing gaps in care for LGBTQ individuals and connect our community with appropriate health care services.

On a personal note, it isn’t my experience in business or my success in entertainment that has prepared me for this job. Rather it’s the months I spent in rehabilitation for Alcoholism and the numerous hospitalizations as a youth for depression and suicide. It’s the time I spent starting LGBTQ youth groups at 15 years old. It’s the fight I had at 16 with Borders Books and Music manager for placing the LGBT magazines next to the Adult magazines. It’s the years I spent traveling the country speaking to students about bullying. It’s my twelve year relationship with my husband Matthew. It’s being the Colombian born adopted son of my beloved Austrian Jewish mother and Italian Catholic father. It’s knowing that my biological father was kidnapped, held for ransom and murdered for standing up for what he believed in.

It has been 100 days for me and 24 years for the Center. Our foundation is strong and rich of history and diversity. I invite you to join us for a brave new future by getting involved with your Center. This community is worth investing in and fighting for and I can tell you in all the work I have  done in my life, this has absolutely been the most rewarding. Getting involved, leaning into this work, this mission that is literally saving lives. I invite you to be a part of this experience.

How can you be a part? It can be as simple as signing up for Amazon Smile, which allows Amazon to donate a portion of your purchase, at no cost to you, to our center. Or you can volunteer, or you can donate. I promise anything that you do to help this effort and this organization will give you the good feels! I invite you to join me now.

Michael Billy is the Executive Director of Hudson Pride Center