Why Milk Makeup Teams Up with The Center for Pride
by Abby McIntosh
Hero image: The Center
Here at Milk Makeup, community and self-expression are the core of everything we do. We champion every individual’s right to spaces where they can create, experiment, and grow freely, which is why, for the second year in a row, we’re teaming up with The Center to celebrate Pride Month. The Center is an LGBTQ resource center in downtown New York (only a 10-minute walk from Milk Makeup HQ!) that provides a wide range of services and programming to New York’s LGBTQ community. When you buy our Limited Edition Pride Pack or Glitter Stick, 50% of the retail purchase price from both will go to The Center during the month of June. We talked with Glennda Testone, Executive Director of The Center, to learn more about what The Center stands for and offers to its community.
Milk Makeup: How would you describe The Center?
Glennda Testone: The Center is a home for so many people who walk through our doors. It’s a safe place full of warmth and affirmation; a haven where everyone can be celebrated for who they are. For some in our community, Pride is one of the only times when LGBTQ people are welcome to be their whole selves. I feel incredibly fortunate to have a job where I can do that every day here at The Center. Many people don’t have supportive, welcoming spaces where they can always be out and affirmed, and that’s why The Center is so special and so vital to our community.
Image: Lester Echem
MMU: What services and programming does The Center provide?
GT: The saying is that you can’t be everything to everyone, but we certainly try! We offer the LGBTQ communities of NYC a variety of programs and services from health and wellness; to arts, entertainment and cultural events; as well as substance use treatment, youth, parenthood and family support services. Everything we do is tailored to fit the needs of the community we serve. For example, last year we launched our RiseOut advocacy program in direct response to the increase in service requests from our community following the presidential election. We heard loud and clear that people wanted a way to engage in how the world was changing around them and acted to provide a conduit for that energy through RiseOut to fight for and protect the LGBTQ community’s rights.
MMU: Why is the partnership between Milk Makeup and The Center important?
GT: It’s important to us at The Center that every company we work with shares our values. We’re so grateful to partner with Milk Makeup because they absolutely fight for the same things we do, and we know that they stand on the LGBTQ community’s side to support us whenever we need it. We also love that Milk Makeup always asks to directly involve our individual community members in their Pride campaigns. Seeing that devotion to our staff and the people that we serve, and the authentic approach they take to highlighting their narratives, is a breath of fresh air. We would love to see more of that in partnerships between corporations and nonprofits.
Image: Lester Echem
MMU: How does The Center celebrate Pride Month?
GT: Enthusiastically and energetically! The entire month is packed with events and Pride presents a special opportunity for us to connect with our community, specifically in celebration. Our work often centers on helping people who are facing serious challenges, so Pride is a great opportunity to interact with the entire community on a more joyful note. Some of the ways we do this are through Garden Party, our Pride kickoff event on Monday, June 18. It’s the longest-running Center event and we hold it at Pier 84 to offer tastes and treats from restaurants all around the city. We also have our Kidding Around Family Pride Picnic on Saturday, June 23, to welcome LGBTQ families and their children in a celebration of Pride. And of course, The Center always has a big presence at the Pride March, complete with a float, DJ, and some seriously fiercely-dressed marchers. At all of these events, we come together with so many wonderful people from all across the community and reinforce that we are here to support them at all stages of life.
MMU: How has The Center evolved over time?
GT: We emerged out of the AIDS crisis in 1983, so embracing activism and mobilizing against injustice have always been central to our identity. That remains true today, especially through initiatives like RiseOut, as we fight back against the threats that LGBTQ people face from a hostile government. One thing that will never change is that we’re here to serve the community’s needs. Over the last 35 years, we have built our programs by listening to the community. It’s how we developed our family building program, our trans and gender non-conforming services and our substance use treatment program, for example. It’s a true Center hallmark to see and hear the community’s needs and take action to ensure that we work to meet them.