Head of NH non-profit prematurely announces pending closure

by Joe Siegel

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday June 18, 2009

Contrary to previous claims, a Portsmouth, N.H.-based non-profit that caters to LGBT youth is not closing.

William Wesley, executive director of Seacoast Outright, announced earlier this month his organization would close its doors after 15 years. He cited financial difficulties as the main reason.

"The board of Directors met yesterday on Thursday, May 28, 2009 [and] at that time they decided that Seacoast Outright is no longer sustainable," Wesley wrote in an e-mail to funders, supporters and others on June 6. "Outright will continue ALL of its programming until the end of June and then will hold it's annual barbecue on Friday, June 26, 2009. At that time the board has voted to close the doors and file chapter seven."

A fundraiser took place last month to help Seacoast Outright raise much needed funds. Proceeds from the event helped the organization defray its rent, utilities, supplies and programs the organization could no longer cover. Seacoast Outright had also downsized to a staff of one.

Wesley told EDGE in a recent interview his organization is actually restructuring and it plans to remain open.

"We're working on a plan to become all volunteer," he said. "We are very hopeful we will not have to close at all."

"We're working on a plan to become all volunteer. We are very hopeful we will not have to close at all."

Founded by local members of Parents, Families and Friends of Gays and Lesbians in 1993, Seacoast Outright offers a variety of educational, social service and advocacy initiatives specific to LGBT people 21 and under who live along the New Hampshire Seacoast and in neighboring Maine and Massachusetts. Faculty and staff at the nearby University of New Hampshire in Durham remain a significant source of donations and funding.

Concord, Manchester and other cities and towns across the state have similar groups that cater to LGBT youth, but similar organizations across the country continue to struggle.

The Los Angeles-based Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services, one of the country's largest LGBT youth-specific organizations, shut down in April after it filed for bankruptcy.

"We've lost other local organizations and if things continue as they are - we will lose more," Greg Varnum, executive director of the National Youth Advocacy Coalition, blogged on the Bilerico Project.

Wesley's position has been eliminated, but he pledged he plans to remain involved with Seacoast Outright.

Log onto www.seacoastoutright.org for more information.

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.