On October 3, 2013, the Newark LGBTQ Center was opened to the Newark LGBTQ community as a safe space, especially for people of color. After a 10 year battle with various local administrations, the original founders were able to accomplish their dream of establishing Newark’s first LGBTQ center.

The center struggled for 10 years to gain the political and promised financial support of various Newark administrations to support the creation of the center. Although that support never materialized, it was the founding board members, the LGBTQ broader community, and a group of diverse lesbian women, predominantly women of color, who fought until the dream of center was realized. 

Finally, in 2013, the center was founded originally by the Liberation in Truth, a church founded in 1995 in Newark and is part of the Unity Fellowship Church movement. Founded in the 1980s in Los Angeles by Carl Bean. It began operating as the Liberation in Truth Social Justice Center and later adopted its current name – the Newark LGBTQ Community Center.

Our community’s struggle to create a safe space went into full gear immediately after the shocking 2003 murder of Sakia Gunn, a 15-year-old lesbian whose life was taken on the streets of Newark while she was returning home from a visit to New York City. Later, Sakia Gunn was remembered as part of the mural project called Gateways to Newark.

The mural honoring Sakia is a part of a mural of project called #GatewaystoNewark that spans over a mile on McCarter Hwy and features works by dozens of artists.



Where the Passion Begins



Executive Director

Since 2019, Beatrice Simpkins has served as the Executive Director of the Newark LGBTQ Community Center and has worked in Hudson and Essex Counties, NJ and Charlotte, NC in the field of nonprofit program development and management. She is a former board member of the Freedom Center for Social Justice located in Charlotte, NC and the Newark Community Health Centers located in Newark, NJ. In 2016, Ms. Simpkins became a Rutgers 250 Fellow – receiving a medal at the “A Day of Revolutionary Thinking”, the culminating event of Rutgers’ yearlong 250Th birthday celebration. Ms. Simpkins holds a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) from Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration. Her pronouns are she/her/hers. She is currently in her doctoral program at Saybrook University seeking a terminal degree in Transformative Social Change. Beatrice is a cisgender African American lesbian, mother of two duaghers - Evita and Cicely, and Granny B to Darius, Demetrius, and Vivienne. She also serves her community as a deacon in the Unity Fellowship Church Movement, serving as part of the UFC NewArk congregation.


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