Porter Gilberg is ousted from the Long Beach LGBTQ Center

Porter Gilberg Long Beach LGBTQ Center

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

LONG BEACH — Porter Gilberg, the embattled former executive director at the Long Beach LGBTQ Center, is gone and will not return to the non-profit agency. 

The Center’s Board of Directors has not renewed Gilberg’s contract, which will expire September 8, saying that his “values were not in alignment with those of The Center,” according to a statement released Tuesday.

Porter Gilberg on leave

Gilberg has been on administrative leave since June 29 when SaveTheCenterLB sent the board a letter that outlined 60 alleged incidents of racist and sexist behavior by Gilberg. SaveTheCenterLB also organized a social media campaign saying that Gilberg should be removed from the Center.

In response, the board hired a lawyer and an outside private investigator to look into the allegations cited by 14 former employees.

In June, Gilberg responded to the accusations in a post on his Facebook page.

Gilberg said in part, “I take these concerns seriously and am willing to take responsibility to learn and to grow as a person…”

According to 2018 tax filings on the Center’s website, Gilberg’s total salary and compensation was more than $100,000.

An internal investigation was launched in late February following three complaints against Gilberg, but it was delayed several months while the board responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, Center spokesman Andy Perez said last month.

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Gilberg ousted

Once the independent investigation was complete, the board said that “Gilberg’s values were not in alignment with those of The Center.”

“The fundamental goal of a LGBTQ Center is to be a safe space for clients as well as staff,” Stella Ursua, the Center’s board president, said in a statement. “We want to ensure the environment at the LGBTQ Center Long Beach is consistent with The Center’s values and mission of embodying a culturally inclusive community.”

The statement also said in part that the Board believes it is time for a new leader to “improve the workplace culture to reflect our values of strength through diversity and being a safe haven where people can thrive.”

Porter Gilberg responds

In an email, Gilberg said the board didn’t conduct  a fair investigation, and they betrayed him.

“The Center approached this situation with a singular goal in mind, and it comes as no surprise that the investigation the Board commissioned arrived at their pre-ordained conclusion,” Gilberg said in a statement. “I cannot express the deep pain The Center’s Board has caused me with this betrayal.”

Gilberg went on to say that his rebuttal evidence during the investigation was dismissed.

“I stood ready with text messages, witnesses, and photos to prove the allegations against me were categorically untrue,” Gilberg said. “I offered them to the investigator, but they ignored the offer and did not interview key eyewitnesses I identified.”

Perez said “The Center stands by what we released today.”

Gilberg ended his statement saying, “I want all of my former colleagues and friends there to know I still support The Center’s mission and will work tirelessly to achieve it, even if from the outside.”

New executive director

An executive search firm and the Center’s board of directors, with input from Center management, will begin immediately to search for an executive director.

In June,  the Center Board appointed Andrew Dorado, the chief financial officer and general counsel, as the interim executive director.

Next week, the Center will launch a virtual version of its QFilm Festival.

More than 40 LGBTQ movies will be available for streaming.

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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