LGBTQ Center Long Beach ends contract with executive director following accusations of racist, sexist behavior

The LGBTQ Center Long Beach is ending its contract with Executive Director Porter Gilberg after he was placed on leave earlier this year amid accusations of racist and sexist behavior.

The Center’s Board of Directors in a statement released Tuesday said it has chosen not to renew Gilberg’s contract after an independent investigation found that his “values were not in alignment with those of The Center.”

The board is now searching for a new director as Gilberg’s contract ends on Sept. 8.

“The fundamental goal of a LGBTQ Center is to be a safe space for clients as well as staff,” said Board President Stella Ursua 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. We are determined to continue to grow for our staff and our clients in the Greater Long Beach area.”

Gilberg has been on administrative leave since June 29 after allegations surfaced from 14 former employees, the board said in a statement. The board hired an independent counsel and outside private investigator to look into the allegations. It later contracted with a Human Resources firm to help manage the concerns. 

Gilberg, who was named executive director in 2014, fired back in a statement Tuesday saying he was wrongfully accused by “online bullies” and that the board did not conduct a fair and thorough investigation. Gilberg said he was placed on leave in June pending a third party investigation after an initial internal investigation found no evidence to substantiate the allegations.

“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,” he said.  “I cannot express the deep pain The Center’s Board has caused me with this betrayal.”

Gilberg said he plans to continue “fighting for the values of equity and inclusion for all of my LGBTQ family, especially the most marginalized.”

“The Center may have taken away my platform, but not my voice,” he said. “I have devoted my life to social justice movements and my time at The Center was marked by ‘spectacular” growth and progress.’  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.”

Ursua in her statement said the Board “recognizes Mr. Gilberg’s many achievements during his tenure.” From 2015 to 2019,  annual revenue doubled to $2 million and the number of employees increased from 14 to 26.

“However, the Board believes it is time for a new leader to build on our spectacular growth and improve the workplace culture to reflect our values of strength through diversity and being a safe haven where people can thrive,” she said.

The Center is a nonprofit that provides support including health and legal services for the city’s LGBTQ community.

Editors note: This article was updated to add statements from Porter Gilberg 

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Kelly Puente is a general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. Her prolific reporting has taken her all over Southern California—even to the small Catalina Island town of Two Harbors. She is a Tiki mug collector and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].
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