About LGBTQ Merced

Our Story

LGBTQ Merced was established in 2023 in order to create a central place for queer folks in Merced County and the surrounding areas to find community and resources.

Queer politics in Merced have been contentious and disconnected for too long. We believe that by creating and promoting ethical and transparent systems of democratic, queer leadership, our community can come together to create incredible events, initiatives, and a sense of belonging for all queer residents of the Central Valley, from Los Banos to Mariposa, and from Turlock to Madera.

Our Values

Our Vision

LGBTQ Merced strives to be a leader in LGBTQ+ community development, and active partner in the implementation of strategies to achieve community goals. As such, we will use community meetings, surveys, and scientific research to create and guide local policy initiatives and activities.

LGBTQ Merced’s
long-term goals include the creation of a sustainable and inclusive LGBTQ+ center, expanding over a decade into services for youth experiencing homelessness in Merced County. This is because homelessness disproportionately affects LGBTQ+ transitional-aged youth, and no services currently exist in Merced County that serve this population. We envision strong
partnerships with local agencies in order to realize this goal. We are committed to democratic processes and values, including dialogue. We encourage members to have difficult conversations by putting aside judgment and replacing it with compassionate discourse to cultivate a connected queer community. This means, ultimately, be empathetic, listen, and try to understand
one another.

Those who listen, change the world

– Nobel Peace Center

Meet our team!

Micki Archuleta is a cisgender lesbian and a Merced native. She is the founder of the Merced LGBTQ+ Alliance and has been active in local queer politics for over a decade. She is adjunct faculty at Modesto Junior College teaching writing and is also a student at Arizona State University majoring in Software Engineering. It is her vision of a connected community which has led us to prioritize the convocation of queer town halls with free lunch provided on a monthly basis. Much of her organizational experience and wisdom comes from being involved in student government, including as the President of the Graduate and Professional Student Association at Washington State University, and from the research done for her dissertation, “A Covenant of Struggle: Constitutional Debate and Ideological Discourse in Antebellum America.”

Eli Sachse, BSN, RN, a transgender man, settled in Merced in 2009. He created the first transgender and non-binary support group in Merced, Genderpeers, and ran it on a volunteer basis for three years (2019-2021), connecting trans people to resources that did not previously exist in the Central Valley. He is the founder of GLSEN Merced, and Merced Pride Center, now renamed. He curated the first two LGBTQ+ art exhibitions at the MAC, now an annual tradition. He sewed the 24-foot long rainbow pride flag that was carried down main street during Merced’s first downtown pride celebration in 2019. He is a traveling registered nurse who also deploys to disasters with the American Red Cross. He has experience creating and presenting cultural sensitivity training for all audiences, and is motivated to re-establish an inclusive and sustainable Pride Center for Merced.

Cori Fernandez is a cisgender lesbian who is a Merced County native. She moved to the Bay Area after high school to begin her career with AT&T, and after 30 years she retired and moved back to Merced. After a year of early retirement, she returned back to school and received her degree in Social Services and Drug & Alcohol Counseling. She began her career at Behavioral Health and Recovery Services where she enjoyed working with children ages 5 – 24. During this time, she developed a passion for assisting queer youth who found themselves rejected by their own families, and experiencing homelessness. It is Cori’s experience which has helped prioritize our long-term vision in seeking queer youth homeless services due to the significant lack of a safety net that she identified within Merced County.

Molly Moon is a cisgender, bisexual woman, and mother of a transgender youth. She is a board member for Madera Action Committee and a volunteer at Valley Crisis Center. She is currently living in Chowchilla and is employed in Merced as an Early Intervention Teacher.

Alexander Thorsman is a nonbinary individual and a Merced County native. Their goals include being more actively involved in mental health and LGBTQ+ advocacy. Their interests include reading, writing, swimming, and nature, with a deep love and affection for animals.

Josie Ascencio is a cisgender pansexual and a Merced native. She is married to her wife of 5 years and enjoys traveling around the world. She is very passionate about animals and volunteers her time fostering cats/kittens with a nonprofit since 2018. She wants to be more involved with the LGBTQ+ Community in Merced County.

The Mission
The mission of the LGBT Community Network is to enhance the well-being of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender communities by providing activities, programs and services that create and support community; empower community members; provide essential resources; and embrace, promote and support our cultural diversity.

LGBT Community Network is a 501(c)3 organization, based in Fresno, CA.
Tax ID 81-3066621


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