National Association of Lesbian and Gay Community Centers Is Founded Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

A nationwide coalition of lesbian and gay community service centers assists lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons at the local level with various programs, resources, and training, and through increased visibility and political support.

Summary of Event

In 1994, representatives of more than thirty lesbian and gay centers from around the United States, a group that had been meeting informally since 1987, met at the Lesbian & Gay Community Services Center of New York during the celebrations for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. The National Association of Lesbian and Gay Community Centers was launched at this meeting, led by the centers in New York, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Denver, Colorado; and Los Angeles. In 2000, the association included “bisexual” and “transgender” as part of its name, incorporated, received Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax-exempt status, created by-laws, and compiled job descriptions to prepare for hiring a national staff; offices are staffed in Washington, D.C., and Garden Grove, California. [kw]National Association of Lesbian and Gay Community Centers Is Founded (1994) [kw]Lesbian and Gay Community Centers Is Founded, National Association of (1994) [kw]Gay Community Centers Is Founded, National Association of Lesbian and (1994) [kw]Community Centers Is Founded, National Association of Lesbian and Gay (1994) National Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Centers Community Centers, National Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender [c]Organizations and institutions

The national association acts as the national voice for the centers and, especially, for the LGBT clients they serve. Also, the national office organizes national and regional conferences, publishes a quarterly newsletter, and hosts an e-mail Listserv that provides an ongoing support and discussion network. The association assists in the development of newly formed community centers through peer-based technical assistance, leadership training, and financial resources. It also undertakes national projects, which are implemented locally. The New York affiliate publishes a directory of the centers and contact information for all members of the association.

As of 2006, there were 150 centers associated with the national office, all of them vital because they are often the first points of contact for persons coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender or for those seeking referrals or information about the local GLBT community; the centers are often the only community resource for GLBT persons in many locations, especially outside major cities.

The New York affiliate, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center, New York New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center founded in 1983, is the most active center. It is the largest LGBT multiservice organization on the East Coast and is the second largest LGBT community center in the world, second only to the Gay and Lesbian Center in Los Angeles, Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center Gay and Lesbian Center, Los Angeles which formed in 1971. Steven Powsner was the lead negotiator in the purchase in 1983 of the former Food and Maritime Trades High School on 13th Street in Greenwich Village. This building would come to house the New York City center. Powsner served two terms on the center’s board of directors and as board president. Sheila Healy was the center’s first executive director.

The New York center, with a large amount of available meeting space, saw sixty groups meeting there regularly in its first year. Groups that have used the space include the Harvey Milk High School for LGBT students, a program of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, and Dignity, a Catholic lesbian and gay religious organization. Dignity had been prohibited from meeting in Roman Catholic churches. As of 2006, more than three hundred groups meet at the center and more than six thousand persons each week use its services. The center provides social services, works on public policy, and offers educational, cultural, and recreational programs. It has served as the meeting location for grassroots groups such as ACT UP New York and for national organization such as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

The New York center’s programs include the following:

Promote the Vote, a nonpartisan voter registration and mobilization project, founded in 1992 and one of the largest LGBT voter registration programs in the United States.

Center Kids promotes the legitimacy and visibility of LGBT families.

Youth Enrichment Services (YES) focuses on ending isolation experienced by many LGBT youths. YES offers professional development training for youth workers, child welfare workers, teachers, guidance counselors, and school administrators. YES also has a leadership training and networking project for students working to end heterosexism in their schools.

Gender Identity Project offers transgender persons opportunities to build their community (

National Archive of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender History at the Center preserves the LGBT community’s heritage. The archive is a national leader because of its large size and the scope of its collection (www.gaycenter .org/resources/).

The Pat Parker/Vito Russo Center Library, the largest LGBT lending library in New York City (


Lesbian and gay community centers emerged after the Stonewall Rebellion of June, 1969, during a fledgling but strong and vocal lesbian and gay rights movement. The main goal of the centers at that time was to connect isolated persons to an organized community.

Center programs, as strong as ever, were at the forefront of the HIV-AIDS pandemic, especially in the 1980’s. Their focus on health and wellness continues, and community service in general remains a priority for many. The centers also provide a political voice for LGBT communities, working with local governments to ensure that the LGBT communities’ needs are adequately met. The national association of LGBT centers works to foster the growth of the centers around the country and to share ideas and program models. National Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Centers Community Centers, National Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Hellman, R., and J. Dreschner. Handbook of LGBT Issues in Community Mental Health. Binghamton, N.Y.: Haworth Press, 2004.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Kenley, D. L., M. R. Stevenson, and J. Cogan. Everyday Activism: A Handbook for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual People and Their Allies. New York: Routledge, 2003.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">National Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Centers.

March, 1971: Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center Is Founded

1982: Lesbian and Gay Youth Protection Institute Is Founded

May, 1988: Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center Opens

Categories: History