KNPR

New Head Of The Center Lays Out His Plans For The LGBTQ Organization

The Center, Las Vegas’ organization for the LGBTQ community, just got a new CEO. He arrives at an important time: Same-sex marriage was legalized in Nevada last month.

Michael Dimengo comes to The Center with a long history of nonprofit work. And, before he came out as a gay man, he spent 22 years as a high-profile Catholic priest in Cleveland.

Dimengo described the process of reconciling his faith and his sexuality as “excruciating.” Shortly after his ordination, he started to realize that he was gay but it took longer for him to accept himself and then be able proclaim it to family and friends.

“Self-acceptance and self-proclamation is critical and pinnacle to an out and proud gay person,” Dimengo said.

Support comes from

He came out first to his family and then shortly afterward decided to leave the priesthood. He started a whole new life in Chicago. Since then he has spent several years working as a consultant for nonprofit organizations in several communities.

Dimengo said one of his goals for The Center is reach out to the transgender community. He says transgender people are still some of the most abused, victimized and alienated groups.

He would also like to focus on seniors within the gay community.

“That is a second front we have to look at,” Dimengo told KNPR’s State of Nevada, “You have people who have lost family because of their sexual orientation. So, family have distanced themselves.”

Dimengo says that population is also vulnerable and at risk of being alone.

“It is part of our responsibility as a community to be there for them,” he said.

The executive director said he is amazed by the youth of the gay community and their courage to come out, often at a young age.

However, he says many are still dealing with bullying and isolation. 

“We’re trying to be family to those individuals and provide support,” he said, “And we’re trying to team up with parents to offer support.”

He also believes the current sex education curriculum in schools needs to be changed to reflect a more comprehensive picture of sexuality.

“A key area where we as a society can support gay youth is in our whole sexual education system,” Dimengo said.

He says a curriculum based solely on heterosexual orientation is a big concern.

Dimengo said while the move towards acceptance for same-sex marriage shows how far society has come to accepting the gay community, there is room for more.

“It is a matter of people being free to be who they are and express who they are that would be our aim and when we achieve that we’ve tipped all the way to achieving what we need to achieve,” Dimengo said.   

Guest:

Michael Dimengo, Executive Director, The Center

Copyright 2015 KNPR-FM. To see more, visit http://www.knpr.org/.

You won’t find a paywall here. Come as often as you like — we’re not counting. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for. If you can spend another couple of minutes making a pledge of as little as $5, you’ll feel like a superhero defending democracy for less than the cost of a month of Netflix.

More Stories

KNPR
KNPR's State of Nevada
KNPR
KNPR's State of Nevada
KNPR
KNPR's State of Nevada