Build Our Parade

Meredith Tanzer

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It’s been at least six years since A Rainbow Place, a gathering place for young gay members of the community, closed. La Bussola, an eclectic shop on West First Street, became the de facto center. Then it closed. Meredith Tanzer, who owned La Bussola, has sought to create a new space for all members of that community of any age. While the effort seems to move glacially, it is still alive through Build Our Place. The big fundraiser for the year is the parade that happens at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, July 28. For more information, including sponsorships, check out buildourcenter.org.

First off, what is Build Our Center?

Build Our Center is a nonprofit organization that’s trying to build a community center for the GLBTQIA community.

What does GLB—help me out. What do all those things mean?

Gay, Lebsian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer and Ally.

This is supposed to serve a certain age group, right?

No. The community center, for sure, needs to address the needs of the youth—who have a very high suicide rate—among young queer kids in our community. But it would be for everyone of all ages. There aren’t really very many places, there aren’t any places in Northern Nevada, that serve right now as sort of a community center that is accepting, where there are things to do with other people that may share your same lifestyle outside of the bars. That’s very, very limiting. When I had La Bussola, it sort of served—which I didn’t plan on—as a community center.

Wasn’t there another one at that time?

It was probably six years ago, and that was A Rainbow Place. When that closed, all of a sudden, all those people found their way to me. What we really realized is outside of the bars, if you don’t drink, and you want to meet a partner, or you want to meet friends, there really isn’t a collective place to go and do that.

Do you have a place in mind for The Center?

We don’t, actually. We’ve looked at a number of properties, and we’ve talked to two different developers about, actually, them building us a center from the ground up, and maybe even donating it, or donating a part of it, but we’ve been spending maybe the last year really fine-tuning a strategic plan so that as we open a center that there are revenue streams attached to it, and we’re not relying solely on government funding and grants.

Specifically, what’s going on with the parade?

Reno is very fortunate in that we have two big gay events a year. We have Rainbowfest, which happens July 28th, and then we have Reno Gay Pride in August. A couple years ago, the organizers of one of those organizations, they no longer wanted to put on the parade. It was a logistical nightmare. It was very expensive to produce, and it took time away from them getting to participate in both the parade and a day in the park, with a booth or bringing people or their organization. So, three years ago, Build Our Center decided that we needed something in some way to continue that didn’t require us to have physical space, but allowed us to have a very big presence in the community. So we do five events a year, although the parade is by far our most visible. We go out, and we work with the city of Reno and the special events committees to put on this parade. We do it on First Street between Ralston, which is where the Lear Theater is, down to Arlington. This year, we have three MCs. Jessica Levity, Christopher Daniels, both from the Utility Players [Improv Group], and Arianna Bennett from Channel 2.