Crist Visits LGBTQ Center, ArtOut at Library

On Monday, June 4, the award-winning Gulfport Public Library’s LGBTQ Resource Center was the focus of attention for U.S. Representative Charlie Crist of Florida along with a group of collection stewards and local politicians. Pictured from left are: Michael Galen Batista, constituent advocate for Crist; Susan Gore, a committee member for the resource center; Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson; Crist; Greg Stemm, a committee member for the resource center; Daniel Hodge, chairperson of the resource center; Dave Mather, library director; and Michael Fridovich, Gulfport councilmember.

The award-winning Gulfport Public Library’s LGBTQ Resource Center and 2018 ArtOut show was the focus for U.S. Representative Charlie Crist’s visit to the city on Monday, June 4.

“We invited him to come down for the LGBTQ flag raising” that was held on the evening of Thursday, May 31 to locally kick off June as national Gay Pride Month, but “he wasn’t available so he sent a representative,” said Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson. Then, “we invited him to visit on Monday so he could see the resource center and the art show.”

The resource center was recently recognized with the 2018 Newlen-Symons Award for Excellence from the American Library Association that honors it for an initiative that is “responsive to the needs of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community,” according to the organization’s website.

“It’s like winning an Oscar for a library,” said Library Director David Mather in February when the award was announced.

Crist was instrumental in the library’s application for the annual award.

In a recommendation letter dated January 10, 2018, Crist wrote that the resource center “has a strong presence in Pinellas County, and is especially influential for our region’s LGBTQ youth. Its strong relationships with community partners allow Gulfport Public Library to provide a sense of awareness and advocacy for the Gulfport LGBTQ community.”

On Monday, Mather gave Crist a tour of the LGBTQ collection and art display, then he met with members of the community who support the resources, said Henderson.

“The center has quickly become a very strong and productive resource since its establishment in 2014,” said Daniel Hodge, resource center chairperson in the group’s winter 2018 newsletter.

For more information about the permanent resource center collection or the annual art exhibit that is on display throughout the month of June, visit


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