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Pride Month: Celebrating Milwaukee advocates and allies who help make LGBTQ community strong

Posted at 5:54 PM, Jun 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-17 18:54:55-04

MILWAUKEE — The LGBTQ community in Milwaukee is strong, but that can't happen without strong allies.

"There's an all-time record need for HIV services here in Milwaukee," said Mike Gifford.

Mike Gifford, the president and CEO of one of the largest HIV service providers, Vivent Health, has been focusing on helping people get high-quality care.

"Part of the reality in the LGBT community is that it faces a significant burden of HIV. All of our aggressive prevention work is designed to meet the needs of the LGBT community so we can finally bring the terrible HIV pandemic to an end," said Gifford.

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Jason Rae, the CEO of Wisconsin's LGBT Chamber of Commerce, has been working daily to provide a more inclusive and accepting business community.

"There's still a lot of stigmas out there, there's still a lot of discrimination that happens, and there's still a lot of work that needs to be done. We are all working each and every day to make sure that we are building that welcoming and inclusive place where people can be their full authentic selves," said Rae.

Meanwhile, Shelly Gregory's group, FORGE, has been working for years to protect those in the transgender community from potential violence. According to FORGE, 29% of trans people experience bullying from K-12th grade, 66% experience sexual violence and 80% avoid bathrooms and often feel unsafe.

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"Trans people, particularly trans people of color, are vulnerable for many reasons, to bullying in schools, violence on the street and in some cases, violence at home," said Gregory.

And at the end of the day, these organizations want people to know that no matter what, they've always got your back.

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"There are many of us who are available in the community to offer support. We see you. We support you. You are valued. You are loved. You are important," said Gregory.

To find and learn more about LGBTQ groups in Wisconsin, you're encouraged to go to couragemke.org to find a full list of resources

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