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Debi Fields didn’t come out as a lesbian to her family and friends until she was 37 years old because she was afraid they wouldn’t support her.
Instead, she said she lived a life filled with anxiety, feeling there was something broken inside her.
“It’s a struggle because you think there’s something wrong with you,” Fields said about the decision not to disclose one’s homosexuality.
On Saturday, Fields and about 50 others marched from the downtown square in Elizabethtown to the Metropolitan Community Church of Elizabethtown on Brooks Street to kick off the grand opening of the Central Kentucky Pride Center.
Fields, the center’s director, said the grand opening received more reaction from the community than expected, and most of the feedback she received was positive rather than negative.
Though she said she heard “rumblings” about opposition protesting Saturday’s event, no such protestors appeared.
The pride center’s mission is to build awareness in the community and provide support and information to those who need it, Fields said.
The service is needed in the Hardin County area, she said, especially for young people who feel like they don’t belong. Alienation and anxiety may lead to teen depression and suicide, Fields said.
The pride center, which is open to all ages, can provide teens and young adults struggling with these issues with an opportunity to talk to someone and meet others facing similar journeys, she said.
Among some of the resources the center will offer is Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays support group, Fields said.
Ashley Mahaney, a Hodgenville resident who attends college at Western Kentucky University, echoed Fields’ statements regarding the need for support for teens and young adults struggling with their sexuality.
“It’s something to go to find a body there to support you,” she said. “In every way, it’s important.”
The center will open on the third Saturday of every month, according to Fields. At 6 p.m., it will feature a speaker and from 7 to 11 p.m. will host an open coffee house.
The organization is operating out of the church for now but hopes the pride center garners enough support to move into its own facility in the future.
“We hope this goes over well enough and the community supports it well enough,” she said.
Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or firstname.lastname@example.org.