Conway native and author Brock Thompson will head an upcoming fundraiser for Lucie’s Place, a prospective homeless shelter that will cater to young members of the LGBT community in Central Arkansas.
Thompson is author of "The Un-Natural State: Arkansas and the Queer South," and a Hendrix College alumnus working as programs coordinator at the Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center in Washington, D.C.
He’ll read from his book at the group’s fundraiser, Dinner with the Author, set for March 18 from 7-9 p.m. at Hendrix’s Worsham Hall in the Student Life and Technology Center.
Thompson said his account of gay and lesbian life in Arkansas recorded in his historical autobiographical book, which contains a "colorful and proud history" of the LGBT story in the south may provide context to "what’s going on with the LGBT youth in Arkansas."
Thompson, an advisory board member for Lucie’s Place, said homelessness among the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered youth population is not confined to urban centers, but it’s an issue in Little Rock and the surrounding areas.
For about three years the group’s board of directors has worked to raise enough funds to open a shelter for LGBT people ages 18-25 while continuing to support its programs, which include counseling at no charge, said board president Kay Morgan, of Conway.
Morgan said Lucie’s Place is set to open a Little Rock location in 2015 as a place for young adults who are homeless and without resources due to their LGBT identity.
Lucie’s Place will be a transitional shelter that specifically serves the population Morgan says may be turned down by relatives and other shelters.
"If there’s one LGBT youth who has been kicked out of their home, then there’s a need. We’re going to provide a safe and loving atmosphere for the child. That’s the Christian thing to do," Thompson said. "Our goal is to provide a safe home so these young people can live their lives to the fullest while developing the skills to live independently."
Thompson said LGBT-identified individuals may be the target of discrimination, violent acts or sexual assault in traditional homeless shelters.
Lucie’s Place seeks to help its residents develop skills, savings and resources necessary to move into an independent life, according to the group’s website.
Advisory board members are Thompson, First Lady of Arkansas Ginger Beebe, news anchor Dawn Scott, Eric Hutchinson of Hutchinson Financial, Gifted and Talented educator Patty Jolliff, the Heath Department’s Dr. Gary Wheeler, HIV specialist Dr. Terry Jefferson, licensed clinical social worker and therapist Jean Speegle, and psychologist Dr. Ralph Hyman.
The group’s board of directors are Morgan, Anne Orsi, James Herden, Karen Thompson, Tod Crites and Brenda Guillet.
The executive director is Penelope Poppers, of Little Rock.
Tickets to the fundraiser are available by visiting www.luciesplace.org.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1236, or on Twitter @Courtneyism. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)