The Harriet Hancock Center is the only LGBTQ+ facility in South Carolina. Providing a myriad of resources, programs, and events for the community, the center wants those who struggle with their sexual orientation and their families to have a safe place to call home in the palmetto state. Jessica Jarman, a program administrator at the Harriet Hancock Center, says, “Having the center and having these programs is really helpful because as a layperson it can be very difficult to try and find these very limited resources”.
The Vice President and Founder, Harriet Hancock, built the center’s foundation on acceptance and empowerment. She says, “It all began when my son came out as gay, back in ‘80, ‘81, and I accepted my son readily.” Hancock knew her son faced a difficult decision to come out as gay like many others that fear rejection from their family and friends. Nevertheless, her love for her son outshined and since then Hancock has been on the front lines fighting for LGBTQ+ advocacy.
Members of the center, Gerald McNair and David Alexander, say the center is so beneficial because of the way that it connects those in the community together. Alexander says, “It’s helped us make contacts and friendships here in South Carolina, which is kind of hard in the south.”
You don’t have to be to a part of the LGBTQ+ community to make a difference. President of the Harriet Hancock Center, Chuck Archie, says, “We have just about as many allies as we do LGBTQ people now so it’s nice to have people of like mind as to whether they’re gay or not that you can talk to.”
This weekend the Famously Hot South Carolina Pride parade will be underway. Staff, members, and allies of the Harriet Hancock Center will celebrate with self-assurance knowing their organization touches people’s lives and cares for a community that faces discrimination. Alexander says it best, “It’s about support, it’s about love, it’s about respect, and that’s the greatest thing that the Harriet Hancock Center provides.”