Something Awesome for the Gay Community

By

by Amanda Bloom

“Something…something…
awesome.”

This is the feel Jaime Randle and Jes Bengston wanted to create when they were first brainstorming about starting “something” over the summer.  The two young women met while working at a restaurant, and both were itching to do something more for the community.  They both also connected on the fact that there is little for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer (GLBTQ) community to do outside of the bar and nightclub scene.

So they stuck with “something awesome” and went to work on The Something Awesome Project (SAP), a movement dedicated to providing a safe, positive and supportive space both online and off for the GLBTQ community.

by Amanda Bloom

 


 

“Something…something…awesome.”

 

Jes Bengston and Jaime Randle of The Something Awesome Project.

This is the feel Jaime Randle and Jes Bengston wanted to create when they were first brainstorming about starting “something” over the summer.  The two young women met while working at a restaurant, and both were itching to do something more for the community.  They both also connected on the fact that there is little for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer (GLBTQ) community to do outside of the bar and nightclub scene.  So they stuck with “something awesome” and went to work on The Something Awesome Project (SAP), a movement dedicated to providing a safe, positive and supportive space both online and off for the GLBTQ community.

Before morphing into SAP, Randle and Bengston thought of starting an event planning company that would offer activities such as hiking and various clubs.  Their focus shifted entirely upon their first meeting with the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) at Newtown High School in December, and the two began to build what will soon be a non-profit organization.

“We were so inspired by the kids,” Randle said in a phone interview.  “We decided on outreach.”

Part one of their vision has been achieved: SomethingAwesome.org was launched at the end of October, functioning as a social network where users can share photos, blogs, participate in forums, connect with others and find support.  The site currently has 237 members.

“We want to made the website even more rich with articles, advice and resources,” Randle said.  “We want to see people share and open up.”

Part two will make that online space concrete with a community center, though Randle said that they don’t want a community center look or feel.

“We want it to be welcoming and homey, life a coffee shop,” she said.  “We want to offer mentoring programs, discussions and workshops.  It will be a safe and comfortable space that can act as a bridge between the younger and older generations, a space with a purpose or not that you are accepted and welcome.”

The main roadblock to the SAP community center is, of course, money, which Randle and Bengston are hoping to overcome once they have achieved non-profit status.  Randle said that they are currently working with a lawyer and an accountant and are raising funds so that they can  complete the filing process.  People are also welcome to donate to the SAP on the website.

The SAP continues to hold meetings with area GSAs at one of the local high schools every month, and the SAP vision pledges equally strong programs for youth and adults.

“We strive to empower youth with the attitudes, resources and skills to foster their maturation into productive, well-adjusted adults,” reads the website.  “We strive to empower adults with similar tools, encouraging them to be positive role models for our youth.”  Future SAP plans also include the creation of a scholarship fund for GLBTQ high school seniors who want to attend college.
A screenshot of The SAP website.
The SAP held a fundraising tattoo party last week, and future events will include a dodgeball tournament, an open mic night and a workshop at Ridley-Lowell, a local business and technical institute.

“We are trying to appeal to different people,” Randle said.

To celebrate the launch of SAP, Randle and Bengston are throwing a party at Two Steps Downtown Grille this Saturday, January 22.  The aim is to introduce the project to the community, raise funds, network with people and other organizations – and to have a really good time.

The party will include a DJ, cover band “The Clits”, drag queen and king performances, raffles, passed appetizers and an open buffet.  Two Steps is located at 5 Ives Street in Danbury and the event is scheduled for 7 to 11pm.

The SAP will also be holding a workshop for high school and college students and counselors next month based on The Laramie Project, a play about the town of Laramie, Wyoming, where gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was murdered in 1998.  The workshop will take place at the Brookfield Theatre for the Arts on February 5 starting at 2pm.  The workshop is free but requires registration.

For more information on the SAP and upcoming events, visit SomethingAwesome.org or email Randle at Jaime@SomethingAwesome.org.

 

by & filed under Local, Local News.