Porter Gilberg placed on leave from the Long Beach LGBTQ Center

Porter Gilberg Long Beach LGBTQ Center

Porter Gilberg, executive director of the Long Beach LGBTQ Center, marches in the Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride Parade along Ocean Boulevard on May 20, 2018. Photo Stephen Carr / StephenCarrPhotography.com for Q Voice News.

This story was updated. Porter Gilberg’s leave of absence was not voluntary. The Long Beach LGBTQ Center’s board of directors placed him on leave. 

LONG BEACH — Porter Gilberg, the embattled executive director of the Long Beach LGBTQ Center, was placed on leave Monday from his administration role while the non-profit agency’s board of directors hired an outside consulting firm to investigate allegations of abusive behavior and racism.

“We know that many of you have become aware of a public letter from a group identifying as a coalition of former Center employees,” according to an email sent to community members Monday.  “The board takes this matter seriously and has placed Porter on leave while we take next steps. Please know that we, Center staff, remain committed to serving our LGBTQ community. Our work continues, our services continue, and we are here for you.”

On Monday, the Center board appointed Andrew Dorado, the chief financial officer and general counsel, as the interim executive director.

Before the Center email was sent Monday, Gilberg, who could not be reached for comment over the weekend, took to social media and acknowledged the open letter that accuses him of creating a “traumatizing and hostile work environment…(that has) included misogyny toward, tokenism, and harassment of Black and non-Black women and femmes of color.”

According to the letter, it was written by 14 former Long Beach LGBTQ Center employees.

“I take these concerns seriously and am willing to take responsibility to learn and to grow as a person…,” Gilberg said in a post on his Facebook page.

Gilberg said he supports an independent audit of The Center, overseen by the board of directors, including an evaluation of his leadership, staffing, and organizational practices.

Instead of saying that the board placed him on leave, Gilberg said he was taking a leave was “to support the integrity of this process,” and he will not make any additional public statements until the investigation is finished.

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Stella Ursua, the Center’s board president, on Friday released a statement saying that the non-profit organization is reviewing the allegations.

The letter accused Gilberg, who was appointed executive director by the board in 2014, of creating a “traumatizing and hostile work environment…(that has) included misogyny toward, tokenism, and harassment of Black and non-Black women and femmes of color.”

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The letter said that a list of more than 60 specific incidents of alleged abusive behavior by Gilberg have been sent to the Center’s board.

The letter also includes a list of accountability measures for the Center board of directors to implement as well as recommendations that address “underlying institutional problems that allowed such abuses to continue unimpeded.”

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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