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Our Story

A Brief History of Positive Images

Based in Sonoma County, Positive Images is an LGBTQIA+ Community Center established in 1990. We provide support to the North Bay’s LGBTQIA+ population, with an emphasis on identities and individuals at the margins – including transgender and nonbinary individuals, LGBTQIA+ people of color, Latiné families, neurodivergent people, and disabled people. We are dedicated to providing essential services that encompass mental health support, advocacy, and education.

PI through the years
Positive Images Archival
PI through the years

Timeline of Positive Images History


Our Roots

In January of 1990, Positive Images opened our doors to Sonoma County’s LGBTQIA+ community for the first time. Founded as a collaboration between Beverlee Laird and Jim Foster, Positive Images (PI) set out to address community disparities by creating a bridge for connection and community support.  


PI held our first meeting with five young gay men who were desperate for support, connection, and community during the height of the AIDS epidemic. Jim and Beverlee understood that the word “positive” held a deadly connotation, and society treated folks with a positive diagnosis as outcasts. They decided to create a space where young LGBTQIA+ individuals could see and create Positive Images of themselves and their community. By the second year, the bimonthly Thursday night support meetings expanded into weekly meetings.

Educating For Acceptance

Our leaders knew that transforming our county into a LGBTQIA+ affirming community required both support and training for future allies. In the Spring of 1990, Positive Images began sharing presentations at local high schools and supporting GSA clubs on-the-ground. The effort soon evolved to form LGBTQIA+ Cultural Competency Trainings for organizations and institutions seeking to create safer spaces for queer communities, including Santa Rosa Junior College, Sonoma State University, high schools, middle schools, social service agencies, churches, community groups, nonprofit organizations, hospitals, and government agencies.


Expanding Peer Support

In the summer of 1992, Positive Images began a mentor program that trained and supported LGBTQIA+ adults who had the desire and commitment to work with queer youth. Volunteers at Positive Images contributed a vast array of talents in support of our organization, including launching fundraising efforts and special events, providing expertise in nonprofit organizational support, giving regular donations, or by becoming a Board Member of Positive Images. 


Pride as Power

In June of 1990, Positive Images marched in Sonoma County’s first Pride Parade and later marched alongside LYRIC (Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center) in San Francisco’s Pride Parade. We believe that celebration of our visibility is vital to community-building. As our co-founder Jim Foster said: “You can’t help but feel good about declaring who you are when marching down the street and carrying the PI banner. This is a very powerful act in countering any shame.”


Positive Images unveiled our first office in 1994 – a tiny room located at 1023 4th St. in downtown Santa Rosa. By October of that year, we held our first “HomeComing-Out” dance, and later the first Positive Images Valentine’s Dance in February 1996. 


Rallying Parent Support 

In the summer of 1998, supportive parent allies Ray and Jill Tarap and Deb and Robert Lane created the first Positive Images Parents’ Support Group. This group focused on providing support and education to parents of LGBTQIA+ youth. The group convened parents of queer youth into community-building activities and rallied parents to march in the Sonoma County and San Francisco Pride Parades.


A New Home

In 1998, Positive Images moved into our first full-sized space which served as headquarters for the organization and allowed for growth over the next four years. In 1999, Nancy Vogl joined Positive Images and created a unique co-executive directorship with Jim Foster. The organization continued to grow and evolve until it became apparent that more space was desperately needed.


The Chinn Street House

In 2003, Positive Images seized a timely opportunity to move into a house on Chinn Street. This location would be Positive Images’ home for many years, and is fondly remembered as our home base for generations of Positive Images communities. But with more members and programs than ever, we eventually outgrew the Chinn Street House.


Cultivating Leaders for a New Era

In 2015 after 25 years of service, Co-Founder Jim Foster was ready to retire from Positive Images and invite in a new era of leadership. After working as the Community Outreach Coordinator for several years, Javi Cabrera-Rosales accepted the role of Director of Programs with excitement and vision toward the future. Javi navigated Positive Images through new and exciting challenges, including securing critical funding and key partnerships. Javi’s skills, charisma, intelligence, drive, and joy continue to inspire us, keep us laughing, and model impeccable leadership to our community. 


In Javier’s words:

"Positive Images (PI) has become a sacred haven for me and countless others, both within and beyond Sonoma County. My time at PI has been transformative, unraveling layers of self-discovery not only as an individual but also as a valued team member. The voices and guidance of the young minds shaping a more compassionate, just, and beautiful world resonate deeply with me. Embracing both challenges and triumphs, my journey at PI has been a tapestry of personal growth and shared accomplishments. The profound wisdom and humility I've gained from this experience have shaped the person I am today and positioned me in the trajectory of my current journey. Expressing gratitude to the collective efforts of humans and animals alike who have contributed immeasurably to the PI community, my heart and soul are filled with appreciation for the reciprocal exchange of offerings and gains. In profound thanks to all who have enriched the fabric of community life at PI.”


In 2017, Javi was ready for their next professional opportunity and led the effort to find Positive Images our next leader. Positive Images was excited to bring on our current Director of Programs, Jessica Carroll who joined the team in November 2017. Raised in Roseland, Jess came to the organization with the skills, knowledge, and experience to serve the local LGBTQIA+ community and the understanding of the unique communities, cultures, and landscapes of Sonoma County. Jess led the organization and staff with positivity, warmth, and excitement, helping to position Positive Images in its most significant cultural evolution and expansion to date. 


A Center for Community Joy

In 2016, a determined Board of Directors found Positive Images a new home across the street from our long-time Chinn Street location. We were able to grow from a small house to an entire LGBTQIA+ Community Center located at 200 Montgomery Drive Santa Rosa, California. Recognizing that our need for support did not expire at a certain age, after 28 years of offering support groups to only youth and young adults, we launched an LGBTQIA+ Adult Support Group in 2018. Our LGBTQIA+ Community Center was then able to host Youth Support Groups (12-18), a Youth Leadership Development Program, Adult Support Groups (18+), and provide a meeting space for many local community groups. 


Toward Intersectional Futures

In 2023, the Positive Images Board and Staff led the search for a new Executive Director. In the summer of 2023, we invited our new Executive Director, Kimi Barbosa to lead us toward a new future.


In Kimi’s words:

“LGBTQIA+ services have historically lacked an approach that is intersectional and accessible. We have set out to change that. We are committed to the creation of a space that promotes the values we hold, centering diverse community voices, and working towards collective liberation while supporting the needs of our community.”


For the first time in our history, Positive Images has developed a new infrastructure for multilingual and multicultural support for Latine and QTBIPOC communities living in Sonoma County. By hosting new bilingual programming exclusively for QTBIPOC individuals, and expanding our bilingual and bicultural staff, we are lighting the way for the future we can all thrive in. We know that a liberated future for LGBTQIA+ communities requires a commitment to centering QTBIPOC and immigrant experiences and ending white supremacy and other systems of oppression that harm our communities. 

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