Step Out of the Doldrums

It’s been a bitterly cold winter. Darkness, xenophobia and division dominate the news cycle. All of this easily could have conspired to lower some of us into a funk.

But we’re here to help. Below are a few offerings from two local organizations – the Kansas City Center for Inclusion and Kansas City CARE Clinic – that just might warm your heart, lift your spirits, improve your health and stimulate your dormant inner extrovert.

Kansas City Center for Inclusion

The Kansas City Center for Inclusion (KCCI), at 3911 Main St., Kansas City, Mo., is open from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 1 to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday. KCCI hosts 35 individual groups and has welcomed thousands of unique visitors in its lifetime.

 Scheduled Events

Not all of these events take place at KCCI. Check the links for details.

Each Monday: Kansas City area lesbians are watching movies and/or generally hanging out (popcorn, board games and discussion).

Each Sunday: LGBT Yoga.

March 8: Melinda Ryder Birthday Bingo, benefiting KCCI and Lazarus Ministries.

March 10: 2018 Wine Share. $5 donation to KCCI suggested.

April 18: LGBTQIA Leadership Forum. Buck Sommerkamp plans to livestream the event.

May 4: Equality Teen Prom. Sponsors needed. Contact Samantha Ruggles at KCCI to sponsor or donate.

June 10: Meet the KCCI Board of Directors event.

Dec. 1: Christmas Masquerade, a color-themed party to benefit KCCI. Details to be determined.

 Possible, as yet unscheduled events: Quality Hill Playhouse event with proceeds going to KCCI, possibly in April; bowling league(s) fundraiser to benefit KCCI.

UMB volunteers at NOH8 photo shoot at the Kansas City Center for Inclusion. Photo: NOH8 Campaign

 Iceland Trip for Reykjavík Pride

KCCI vice president Craig Thomas has been working to plan a group trip to Iceland for this summer (Iceland LGBT Pride Plane – If Thomas can arrange affordable airfare, the trip would be Aug. 6-12. If he cannot get a reasonable price, he vows to arrange a similar trip in the near future.

Reykjavík Pride or Hinsegin Dagar (“Queer Days” in Icelandic) occurs during that time and it’s an extraordinarily popular event ( This is why travel and lodging prices are higher.

Iceland is a welcoming nation to LGBTQ+ people. Due to the North Atlantic Current, the country’s weather is warmer than you might expect, but summer temperatures in Reykjavík are never hot, generally topping out in the 70s. What is hot are Iceland’s lava fields and geothermal spas, which result from the island’s position atop the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Stay tuned to see whether the trip goes forward. Stop by the Facebook event page and leave feedback or ideas.


Samantha Ruggles. Photo: J. Long

Samantha Ruggles was recently promoted to interim executive director of KCCI. As always, the Center is in need of volunteers. If you have the inclination and ability to help, give Samantha a call. Monetary donations and event-specific in-kind donations are also welcomed.

Craig Thomas said that work continues to develop a Kansas City LGBTQ Community Calendar, which could help to prevent event conflicts and help both residents and visitors quickly see what LGBTQ+ activities are happening in the area.


Visit these sites to stay informed about regular meetings and special events:

 Kansas City CARE Clinic

The Kansas City CARE Clinic (formerly the Kansas City Free Health Clinic) is at 3515 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, Mo., with additional locations on East Meyer Boulevard (Research Medical) and Independence Avenue (Joslyn Clinic). The Broadway location is open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays and 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays (by appointment only). For operating hours at the two other locations, see the clinic’s website.

For 47 years, the Kansas City CARE Clinic has provided health care to the underserved. Its health services often intersect with the needs of the LGBTQ+ community, according to Kayla Regan, its marketing coordinator.


One of KC CARE’s outreach efforts is The HIMM Project (, headed up by prevention specialist and program coordinator Jonathon Antle. It focuses on HIV education, prevention and treatment in the Kansas City area among men who have sex with men (MSM). A new community group hosted by The HIMM Project – called Elevate – has recently formed (

Antle described the group in an email:

Elevate is a community group for guys who like guys, including trans men. The group is facilitated by The HIMM Project. The intent of Elevate is to create a “no judgment, no pressure” community space where guys can come together to build new relationships, better ourselves and better our community. Elevate is also structured in a way that is “introvert friendly” – an aspect that was personally important to me, as an introvert. I think this is a very important aspect to communicate, as many introverts tend to avoid “group” settings, yet they can also experience loneliness or a sense of not belonging. Our format creates a space that is interactive at times, and not interactive at others, giving the introverts a respite from “group work.”

Elevate’s first meeting was on Monday, February 5. There were 15 of us at that first meeting, despite icy roads! We spent our first meeting identifying individual and community aspects or challenges that we would like to see change, grow, or develop. We’ll structure subsequent meetings around topics that our group identifies as important or needed, such as communication, building authentic friendships, physical health, etc.

Group members do sign confidentiality agreements in order to foster a brave space where men can be open and honest with one another, especially around difficult or sensitive topics. What you learn about others at Elevate stays at Elevate, including who was there.

Elevate meets the first Monday of each month from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Cornerstones of Care’s Hyde Park location, 300 E. 36th St., Kansas City, Mo. The next upcoming meeting dates are March 5, April 2 and May 7.

HIMM Crew - Left to right - Elmer Corado, Jonathon Antle, Wes Warner, Kalvin Pugh. Photo: Elmer Corado

The HIMM Project Events

Mobile HIV testing (free): Text 816-663-9842.

Monthly HIMM HIV testing venues:

  • Bear Bust – Hamburger Mary’s, 3700 Broadway Blvd #110, Kansas City, Mo. First Saturdays from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
  • Missie B’s, 805 W 39th St, Kansas City, Mo. Second Sundays from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
  • Frat Party – Woody’s Classic Sports Pub, 3740 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. Fourth Fridays from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Trans Health Clinic

In July 2017, Dr. Frances Grimstad established the Trans Health Clinic at KC Care. It’s open on the second Tuesday and fourth Thursday of each month from 6 to 8 p.m. Regan said, “We provide gender-affirming hormones and can connect patients with transgender affirming primary care and behavioral health within the KC CARE system. We can also help patients connect with gender affirming surgical providers in the area.”

HIV/STI testing, case management and prophylactic medications

Both mobile and in-clinic testing are free and confidential. KC CARE Clinic’s walk-in HIV and hepatitis C testing is offered from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursdays and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Fridays.

In addition, Regan said, “We offer case management for those newly diagnosed with HIV, so they have someone by their side to walk them through their diagnosis, their health care options and medication management. Long-term case management is also available for those who qualify.”

The clinic dispenses both PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis)) and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) medication.

Bloom Party fundraiser

Held annually, Bloom Party is the clinic’s largest fundraiser. This year’s party is set for April 21 at The Truman, 601 E. Truman Rd, Kansas City, Mo. Always done in grand style, the 2018 Bloom Party theme is Cirque Electrique. Attendance is considered de rigueur by some LGBTQ+ folks.  Watch the trailer here: Buy tickets here:


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