LGBTQ community center opens in Half Moon Bay

The CoastPride Center opened its doors in Half Moon Bay for the first time Tuesday, hailed as a much-needed and pioneering LGBTQ community center for the coastal community.

“This is the first time there has ever been a brick-and-mortar LGBTQ center ever on the coast, which I think is why some are finding it so historic and progressive,” CoastPride Board Member David Oliphant said.

Organizers of CoastPride, which opened the center, recognized all the resources for the LGBTQ local community and its allies were on the Peninsula, just not on the coast. Many kids couldn’t use the resources or support groups because they didn’t have a way to get to the San Mateo Pride Center, or other locations. Oliphant believes the new center would help kids lacking resources on the coast ranging from Pescadero to Pacifica.

“That’s exactly the void we are trying to fill. The resources that have always been available in San Mateo, Redwood City or San Francisco are now available to those who need or want them locally on the coast,” Oliphant said.

CoastPride started in May 2019 to improve the support, visibility and awareness of LGBTQ people and families. The organization provides support groups, STD testing, educational information and events. Its center at 711 Main St. had its grand opening June 1 to coincide with Pride Month. Hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 2-6 p.m. and Saturday from noon-4 p.m.

Oliphant said the two-story building formally housed the North American Title Company and has been renovated to modern standards. The first floor has a reception area, drop-in space, game room, pool table, kitchen and gender-neutral bathroom. The second floor has a conference room and offices for meetings and private rooms for licensed clinicians. “Having a brick-and-mortar location really helps not only identify us as a permanent and important part of the community but gives people a place to go versus a website or temporary drop-in location,” he said.

Oliphant, a gay married man who grew up in northern Nevada and moved to the coast 10 years ago, fought against discrimination and hate his whole life. When growing up, many were not as comfortable discussing their sexuality as kids are now. The center will provide a place for people to be themselves and safe, and he believes his younger self would have searched for this kind of space.