Area's LGBT social and advocacy Group

Members of Keuka Compass, the area’s premier LGBT social and advocacy group, gathered at the Publick Coffee Bar in Penn Yan Saturday, Jan. 20 to celebrate their first anniversary.

Compass co-founder Alex Andrasik said, “It’s hard to believe a year has gone by already. When we realized we were approaching our anniversary, we knew we wanted to plan a special event to recognize the work we’ve done as a group and with our many community partners and allies.”

The group invited were all those who contributed in some way to the group’s activities over the past year, including educators, speakers, volunteers, graphic designers, and more. The gathering enjoyed good food, warm drinks, and discussion about Compass’ past successes and future plans.

The group has provided LGBT sensitivity training for faculty and staff at Penn Yan Academy, offered a talk on Transgender issues at Keuka College, and has submitted letters promoting tolerance to local newspapers. These activities, along with their regular monthly meetings and several film and discussion sessions at the Penn Yan Public Library, have kept the group busy since their first social gathering at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in January 2017.

Dan Burner, another co-founder of the group, said, “I am so grateful for the work we have done in the village in such a short period of time.”

In the new year, Keuka Compass would like to branch out from Penn Yan and bring its expertise and camaraderie to communities all around the lake. They also hope to continue to book educational sessions for businesses, non-profits, and service organizations across the region, and to offer more cultural opportunities for LGBT people and potential new allies to mingle.

Bethany Snyder, a straight ally who contributed her graphic design skills to the group’s logo, said, “I loved meeting members of Keuka Compass at their anniversary party. They’re doing important work in the community, and I’m happy to have even a small part in helping to spread their message of education and inclusion.”

For Chelsea Snyder (no relation to Bethany), LGBTQ Program Coordinator at Family Counseling Service of the Finger Lakes Inc., it was her first face-to-face meeting with members of Compass. “It was heart-warming to be included in the one year celebration,” she said. “I really love that Keuka Compass is a community-run organization that includes a mosaic of community members of varying identities and different job titles. It’s cool to see social workers, librarians, authors, and school teachers come together to put on educational programs and increase awareness and visibility of LGBTQ community members in Yates County.”

Snyder’s program, formally known as the [LGBTQ] Center of the Finger Lakes, is an advocacy program of Family Counseling Service of the Finger Lakes and provides education, support groups for youth & adults, and advocacy services specific to the LGBTQ community throughout Ontario, Wayne, Seneca, and Yates counties. Now that she and Keuka Compass members have broken bread, Andrasik, Burner, and their fellow organizers hope the two groups can coordinate on future initiatives.

Keuka Compass invites you to join them in several activities. Their regular monthly meeting will be held, as always, on the first Saturday of the month at 3 p.m. at the Publick Coffee Bar (13 Main St., Penn Yan). Their next film and discussion session  Saturday, Feb. 10 at 3 at the public library (214 Main Street) will cover, loss, grief, and cultural progress since the 1960s. And the first session of an ongoing book club exploring LGBT authors and themes will be held Feb. 27 at the Water Street Wine Bar (130 Water St., Penn Yan) at 6:30 p.m.; the group will be discussing Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story by Paul Monette (copies can be acquired at Long’s Cards & Books). Those interested in keeping up on Compass’ activities, or in booking an education session, can reach them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KeukaCompass/.