By: Aleesa Harris

Myrek Custis from Camden, NJ has had a hard time to come to terms with who he is in city that does not really support gay people. Custis started to go to the genesis center for counseling to help him come out to family and friends when he was 20 years old. The genesis center became a second home to Myrek where he learned more about safe sex and was able to get free HIV testing.

The LGBT community (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) has made a big impact in our society while fighting for civil rights such as marriage, being able to adopt and their right to work without discrimination. Even though members of the LGBT community have fought for their rights and have most of them granted by laws, this community of people still have to face discrimination and being bullied.

In Camden, NJ it would be difficult to know the exact number of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender in the city because not everyone is willing to come out due to fear of death and being shunned away from their family. Camden is known for being dangerous with their homicide killings within the pass couple of years. However schools in Camden such as Rutgers tries to make everyone feel comfortable they have little groups and meetings about being gay in a workplace, human rights, and job searching for LGBT.

This year there will be a gay pride parade September 10, 2017 at the Cooper River Park held by the South NJ LGBT pride which is an organization that promotes equality, awareness for gays and respect. In Camden they also celebrate LGBT history month in Camden with different events which passed in February. In February they recognize transgender history, history of gay rights, and to bring everyone together stop the hate and violence towards the LGBT community.

A lot of people apart of this diverse community do not have many people to talk too and are worried about coming out to their parents. Being as though AIDS and HIV are so high amongst people in this community many people are afraid to go get help or even get treated from embarrassment. However being as though Camden has a lot of poverty issues HIV testing can become expensive especially without health care. Even counseling can become expensive, and that’s something a lot of LGBT people need especially growing up in a rough environment like Camden.

Inner cities don’t have the resources or funds to help educate people on being gay and being safe or what it is like to be gay. However the Genesis center is a great place for people to get help and counseling for free. They also do free HIV testing there for anyone not just gays and lesbians. There are three office locations so far one in Collingswood, Camden and Marlton. In Camden the Genesis center is located in Virtua Hospital on the 5th floor. The Genesis center helps with substance abuse, bullying, anger management, compulsive gambling, suicidal thinking, depression, and Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual issues and many more.

They have meetings where people are comfortable, they supply food and beverages, and confidentiality. They offer both individual and group counseling to those who need it. Many people are afraid to speak up about their sexuality and this counseling center is made to help those feel comfortable the way they are. They have meetings between three to five days a week depending on how many people show up and sign up. Depending on what meeting your in whether it’s an individual meeting or a group meeting you will have a different experience. Usually everyone in the meetings are very open and accepting to your own personal beliefs and history of what made you come to Genesis.

Be advised if you are to go to any of the meetings it will be a mixture of people such as alcoholics, LGBT, depression or suicidal so they advise people who are not comfortable in coming out to strangers to first take an individual meeting to crack the surface of the issues one is facing in the community or at home. This is a great opportunity for people who are being bullied in the LGBT community to stand up and for people to learn about safe sex, HIV and AIDS risk and what is ahead of them in the future.  Tim Witherspoon who is not apart of the LGBT community but was supporting a friend said that he sees a big change in the community of Camden for LGBT and that with this center it will get better and he urges everyone to take control of the free counseling.

Driving through the city of Camden

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Last door on the right is where group or individual meetings are held

Genesis 5th floor

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