LGBTQ Community Center Celebrates Bigger, Renovated Space on Rock Island

It was time, in more ways than one.

More than a year after moving to much larger digs, Clock, Inc. will celebrate its inauguration at 4102 46and Ave., Rock Island on Thursday, April 28 at 5:30 p.m. The four-year nonprofit provides a non-judgmental, safe and reliable community center for LGBT+ people to reduce feelings of discrimination or isolation .

Clock, Inc. has completely renovated its LGBT+ Community Center at 4102 46th Ave., Rock Island.

After Chase Norris founded the group in 2018, the executive director opened Clock, Inc. in March 2019, as an LGBT+ community center in the Quad Cities at 321 24and St., Rock Island, offering community groups, counseling, community education, workshops and space for private events.

Part of the new space in the spacious 4,800 square foot building.

The new building is much larger (about four times the space), a more visible location (with signage they couldn’t have before), in the old John Taylor Lounge building at Rock Valley Plaza. They moved in February 2021 and worked for about a year on a total renovation of the 4,800 square foot space (while continuing to provide services). They’ve been waiting to have a big party because of COVID, Norris said Wednesday afternoon.

“We outgrew our first location in our first year, but the weekend after our big one-year anniversary party, we had to close our doors,” he said. “Then we spent the last two years in a pandemic, which gave us time to find the right space and everything, but we definitely needed to expand the space for space, activities and our great amount of demographic data.

A colorful fresco adorns one of the center walls.

Norris said they serve the LGBTQ population in the Quebec region from ages 8 to 60, with most being teenagers through their early 30s. There is no such center in all of Iowa, and few like it in Illinois.

“We have a large LGBT+ population in and around the Quad Cities,” he said. Some high schools in Illinois QC have LGBT clubs, but people need a safe and more accessible space to meet.

Clock, Inc. opened in downtown Rock Island in March 2019 and moved to the new space in February 2021.

“One hour a week in school isn’t enough,” Norris said. Clock, Inc. has secured many sponsors for the renovations, with different pieces being paid for by different sponsored organizations or individuals to help redo this piece.

“We can accommodate a lot more bands, which we’ll be launching a bunch of new ones in the spring,” Norris said. “Then we also have a bunch of new programs that we offer and plan to offer in the spring, but that also takes more money, but we have also been able to now that we have obtained a grant to redo parts of our space .”

The new building has a large closet for transgender people to pick up free clothes that match their gender identity and try them on in a safe space, he said. “So now we have space to accommodate him.”

Clock, Inc. is home to a new closet for transgender people to try on and pick out free clothes that match their gender identity.

Norris grew up in a small town outside of Peoria, and after earning his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Eastern Illinois University in 2014, he became a female-to-male transgender and began his medical transition.

In 2015, Norris accepted a position at Western Illinois University at Moline as a graduate student in counselor training. During Chase’s internship, he created that organization’s first-ever LGBT+ group at his internship site, which prompted Chase to open Clock, Inc. (which now has three full-time employees and numerous volunteers).

“It’s time for a change,” says its website, “LGBT+ people deserve a safe, non-judgmental environment to embrace their truth without fear or isolation.”

The Clock, Inc. logo is fixed at 6:28 for an important reason.

“At Clock, Inc., we recognize the importance of Stonewall, which is why in our logo and on every clock in our center, the hour hands are set to 6:28,” the site says.

28/6 is a crucial date, since June 28, 1969, NYPD raided the Stonewall, a gay bar on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. Gays and lesbians fought back for four days in what was called the Stonewall Rebellion and was considered the watershed event that sparked the gay liberation movement.

One of Rock Island’s new colorful rooms.

On this (April) 28th, the Thursday celebration will include building tours, a party, and performances by two young locals who regularly use the services of Clock, Inc., as well as a former board member and famous imitator of Cher. Candi Strattonwho lives in Moline and was Miss Trans USA 2019.

To learn more about programs and services, visit Clock, Inc. website

Jill E. Washington