World's First LGBT Rotary Club Launches In San Francisco

The group's initial volunteer efforts will support LGBT youth and seniors.

A group in San Francisco has started the first Rotary Club with a predominantly LGBT membership. The new Rotary Club of San Francisco, Castro, is now one of nine Rotary groups in the Bay Area.

Founded in 1905, Rotary International is comprised of more than 34,000 member clubs, each of which bring together business and professional leaders to service their local communities and "advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace." The Castro group had already been active as a volunteer club for several years, addressing homelessness, hunger and healthcare needs. Chapter president Lisa De Zordo told NewNowNext that rebranding as a Rotary Club took more than two years.

A March 25 launch party at The Academy drew RuPaul's Drag Race star Honey Mahogany and mayoral candidate Mark Leno.

The chapter's initial efforts are aimed at helping three LGBT nonprofits: Larkin Street Youth Services, which works to prevent homelessness, Lyric, which supports career development for young people, and Open House, which is dedicated to the housing needs of seniors.

"We have been involved in several community cleanups, feeding the homeless, and provide monthly birthday dinners for a local organization that works with LGBTQ at-risk youth," says De Zordo. Other projects include "needle walks" to make neighborhoods safer, and an intergenerational LGBT brunch to take place the Friday before San Francisco Pride.

The group may have started a trend: De Zordo shared that another LGBT Rotary Club just got its charter in Australia, and that a worldwide Rotary LGBT Fellowship is in the works.

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