Christian Torres has been elected to the board of directors of Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center. Torres, an Allentown resident, was elected to fill the remaining term of Monique McCants who resigned from the Board in February.
Torres, 29, volunteered on the Pride Planning Committee for Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center for two years in a range of capacities and had “loved doing that work.”
An employee for the City of Bethlehem, and an MBA student at Lehigh University, Torres talked to PGN about his excitement at the election as well as his hopes for his role. “Serving on the board of directors for Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center means I am able to help shape how the center interacts with a community that is close to my heart,” said Torres.
Torres said “it was like the planets aligned for me” when the position opened up. He said he was looking to expand his leadership skills and joining the board was “a perfect opportunity to do that. I couldn’t turn it down.”
Founder and Executive Director at Bradbury-Sullivan Adrian Shanker told PGN, “We are proud to have a very active and engaged board of directors. Christian has been an extraordinary volunteer at the center, involved with the Pride Festival.”
Patrick Fligge, board chair at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, added, “We could not be more thrilled to have someone who brings so much talent, passion and enthusiasm. We are a stronger organization with Christian Torres joining our board.”
Torres said the new position offers him opportunities to reach out to different communities. He especially wants to bridge the divide between straight cisgender and LGBTQ people.
“Personally, my goals are to normalize my and others’ experience as LGBTQ people and not shy away from those conversations in the workplace and the larger community,” Torres explained.
He said, “I make it a point in the workplace to talk openly about my life so that people can start re-associating and re-thinking about LGBTQ people.”
Torres said those efforts at his job working for the City of Bethlehem have been largely successful. He hopes to extend that into the larger community through his work with Bradbury-Sullivan.
“I haven’t faced any push-back, which is great,” he asserted. “I work with plenty of Republicans and Trump supporters. They ask about my partner like they would their straight friends’ partners.”
Torres said that his openness and willingness to be a face of the LGBTQ community in the straight business community has offered people the opportunity to reach out. “I have had people open up to me about people in their families who are gay or trans,” he explained. “They want to talk about what those struggles might be; they ask about the correct terminology to use.”
Shanker said, “We know that the values and vision Christian brings to the board will only make it stronger.”
Torres said he looks forward to the next chapter at the center. “I want to make sure that we take necessary steps to make society aware of our needs as LGBTQ people,” Torres said. “Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center is already engaged in some critical pieces of work on these fronts, and I’m excited to help navigate these and future projects.”
He added that during the coronavirus pandemic, he was certain the board would be addressing the impact on the LGBTQ community and that the center’s website had already been updated to remind the community of their risks, like being much more likely to be smokers. Torres said no decision had been made yet about Pride, but that would have to be decided soon. “It would be sad to have to cancel, but we have to consider everyone’s health.” New Hope and Philly Black Pride have already canceled their 2020 Pride celebrations.
Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center provides arts, health, youth, and pride programs to strengthen and support the LGBT community across the Greater Lehigh Valley.