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UFC surprises with its involvement with the LGBT community center

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A groundbreaking ceramony at the new site of The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada, Tuesday Aug. 7, 2012.
Photo: Christopher DeVargas

On August 7, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada celebrated the official groundbreaking on renovations for its new multi-million dollar facility, the Robert L. Forbuss Building. A group of progressive politicians (among them: congressional candidate Dina Titus and state Sen. David Parks) gathered for the milestone moment, but a few of the other special guests caught our eye: two UFC executives (Vice President of Community Relations Reed Harris and Senior Vice President and Associate General Counsel Michael Mersch) and UFC fighter Forrest Griffin. The group’s involvement in the ceremony was certainly warranted—usatoday.com reports UFC’s parent company, Zuffa LLC, is one of the Center’s initial donors. Their appearance was significant, though, because of the UFC’s conflicted history with the gay community. Espn.com reported UFC president Dana White was once asked for an apology (which he gave) by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) for anti-gay remarks made during a 2009 video blog. The website unfitforchildren.org has a record of UFC fighters voicing similar comments. Is the UFC’s relationship with the Center merely an attempt to score positive publicity, or is the MMA company genuinely interested in the progress of the LGBT community? Either way, the new Center is slated to open this December—likely to the delight of its 30,000 annual visitors.

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Mark Adams joined the Las Vegas Weekly in 2010 and now serves as the magazine’s web editor. You can also ...

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