LGBTQ Resource Center becomes OUT Arts & Culture

OUT Arts & Culture’s new logo and President Paul Raker. (Photos courtesy OUT Arts & Culture)

GULFPORT, Fla. | OUT Arts & Culture, formerly the LGBTQ Resource Center, officially rebranded and elected its new president Feb. 7 during the nonprofit’s annual meeting.

The organization launched in 2015 as a project of the Circle of Friends of the Gulfport Public Library. It began operating as an independent nonprofit in 2019, hosting LGBTQ+-focused events in and outside of the library.

These initiatives have included ArtOUT and ReadOUT, which returns for its seventh annual festival of LGBTQ+ literature Feb. 16-18. It will examine book bans, independent bookstores and more.

OUT Arts & Culture and the Gulfport Public Library formally announced their “collaborative transition” in a joint press release Feb. 9. They noted “the decision to create two distinct entities reflects multiple changes resulting from the LGBTQ Resource Center’s phenomenal growth.”

“The Gulfport Library has been an incredible partner in our journey and we are grateful for the support and collaboration that have defined our time together,” said Susan Gore, who now serves as OUT Arts & Culture’s past president. “As we spread our wings and embrace a new era of growth, we do so with deep appreciation for the foundation built alongside the library.”

“We are immensely proud of the Gulfport LGBTQ Resource Center’s achievements and its positive impact on our community and we are glad we are a part of that impact,” added Gulfport Public Library Director David Mather. “This amicable parting allows both organizations to continue their missions with even greater focus and effectiveness.”

OUT Arts & Culture will educate, celebrate and inspire all who value a deeper understanding of those who are LGBTQ+. They’ll do so in a new Gulfport facility “through inclusive onsite and online programs that reflect art, literature and dialogue on LGBTQ+ themes.”

Its board will be led by newly elected President Paul Raker, a North Carolina native and St. Petersburg resident. He follows the four-year term of Gore, who says the nonprofit “is incredibly fortunate that Paul has chosen to lead the organization into its next phase.”

Raker has nearly two decades of nonprofit experience and also serves as Vice President for Operations and Communications of the health-focused OUT Foundation, a national organization. He previously worked as the executive director of the YMCA of Southwest Florida, serving as chair of the LGBTQ+ National Steering Committee for YMCA employees and more.

“Joining OUT Arts & Culture as its board president gives me the opportunity to serve a community that I feel is an integral part of my identity, the LGBTQ+ community, and to do it where I live, work and play — Gulfport, St. Pete and Pinellas County,” Raker says. ReadOUT will mark his first event as president and he says he’s excited to welcome over 50 LGBTQ+ authors to Gulfport for onsite and livestreamed presentations.

“At a time when the arts, literature and humanities are a target as part of an all-out assault on the LGBTQ+ community from political corners of our state, it’s important now, more than ever, that we fight to create a more just and equitable world for the LGBTQ+ community,” he notes. “I am honored to lead the only nonprofit in Pinellas County that is focused explicitly on LGBTQ+ arts and culture.”

Learn more about ReadOUT 2024 at For more information about OUT Arts and Culture, click here.

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