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40+ Years of L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center History - A Few Highlights

Much of the history of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's earliest days wasn't documented, or if it was, that documentation has sadly been lost. For the last 30 years or so, the Center has celebrated 1971 as its "anniversary," as this was the date of the organization's legal incorporation.

 
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While it’s clear the Center’s work began well before formal incorporation, there has been no documentary proof of that other than minutes of a 1970s Center board meeting stating that the Center actually began in the late 1960s. However, in January 2011, a box of papers from the estate of an original board member, June Herrle, was sent to Center CEO Lorri L. Jean.  The box contained numerous documents clearly establishing that the Center’s services actually began much earlier than its 1971 incorporation.  One document was an article transcribing a February 1972 interview of five of seven of the Center’s founding board members and founding executive director Don Kilhefner.  It was published in Gay Sunshine and written by Winston Leyland.  

When asked to discuss the genesis of the “Gay Community Services Center“ (as it was known then) and its “Liberation Houses,” Don Kilhefner referenced the first organizing meeting “about a year and a half” earlier.  June Herrle recalled an organizing meeting on April 27, 1971 out of which the Center’s Liberation Houses grew.  Center founder Morris Kight then described “a much older genesis.”  He stated that in December of 1969, at the time that the Los Angeles chapter of the Gay Liberation Front was founded, the Center was, essentially, already in existence.  

In the article, Kight describes this not-yet-formally-structured organization as rendering “in some primitive form” the services that were being provided at the time of the 1972 interview.  Then, Kight referenced Kilhefner’s arrival on the scene in the spring of 1970 and credited him with the creation of the Gay Survival Committee, which had an office on Vermont Avenue that “did in miniscule” almost all of what the Center was doing at the time of the interview.  

Herrle clarified:  “As we all developed, grew and broadened, so did the concept and so did our services.  As we developed, we knew that there was something more that had to be provided under some sort of structure instead of loosely organized as it had been.”  This article is the best contemporaneous source we have of how the Center began.  

While we cannot identify the exact date that the first services were provided, it is clear that “primitive” services such as information referral and mental health support were being delivered in 1969.  In late 1970 and early 1971 these services expanded to include the Gaywill Funky Shoppe and space for homeless youth and adults to sleep at the Gay Liberation Front coffee house.  Not much later, Jon Platania leased several “Liberation Houses” to provide housing and employment services for homeless youth and adults.  

By mid-1971 the Center‘s name and structure were formalized and in October, 1971 the Center’s first headquarters opened.  By 1972 an astonishingly wide range of social services was being offered.  It appears that as the Center and its service components grew, they became the focus of the leaders, eclipsing the Gay Liberation Front, which ultimately folded.  

1969

A loose association of men and women who are volunteer activists and leaders in the “gay community” begin providing services to LGBT people in need.  These include information and referral and mental health support.  Late in the year, this group meets to discuss the concept of the Gay Community Services Center, but with no particular name or structure envisioned.  They also found the Los Angeles Chapter of the Gay Liberation Front.


1970

As demand for help grows, Don Kilhefner, who later becomes the founding Executive Director of the Center, creates the Gay Survival Committee of the Gay Liberation Front to better respond.  Services begun in 1969 continue.  This group opens an office on Vermont Avenue.  Subsequently, in late 1970 or early 1971, they open a coffee house on Melrose Avenue.

1971

April 27, 1971:  Meeting held to discuss formalizing “Gay Community Services Center” as the coffee house can no longer handle the demands that service provision was placing upon it.  

Center founders make the most important decision in the organization’s development:  they decide that in addition to the social and political/community organizing functions, the Center will provide programs and services to a community in dire need of culturally competent and non-judgmental help.  Ultimately, this positions Center to secure government funding, which enables it, by mid-1990’s, to become world’s largest LGBT organization.

Founding board members are Martin Field, M.D., June Herrle, M.S.W., James L. Kepner, Morris Kight, John Platania, Lee Hansen Sisson.  Founding Executive Director is Don Kilhefner.

With the financial backing of Paul Olson, Platania, opens the initial “Liberation House” on Edgemont Street.  This is the nation’s first facility for homeless gay adults and youth.  Residents were asked to pay $1.50/day for room and board.  This would be followed later that year by FOUR additional “Liberation Houses,” one exclusively for female adults and youth, and a fifth free overnight “crash pad” for up to 12 men and women (houses were located on Van Ness, Oxford, Central and Las Palmas).  A sixth, opened on in 1972, was coed.

Center opens “Funky Gaywill Shoppe and Recycling Center”, at 1519-1521 Griffith Park Blvd.  The Shoppe provides employment and training opportunities for residents of the Center’s “Liberation Houses.”  It is one of the Center’s few revenue sources, but revenues barely exceed expenses.

September: Now with the title of executive director of the Gay Community Services Center, Don Kilhefner invites the community-at-large to attend a meeting “to acquaint the gay community with our programs, facilities and progress to date, and to enlist broad based community support.”  At the meeting, descriptions of four Center programs are presented:  (1) the self-development clinic (individual counseling, group therapy and family services); (2) the Liberation Houses; (3) the Gaywill Funky Shoppe; and (4) the gay men’s V.D. Clinic.

October: With $35 in the bank, Center rents its first formal headquarters at 1614 Wilshire Blvd., where most of its services are provided   All staff are volunteers, including Kilhefner.

October 25, 1971:  The “Gay Community Services Center” is incorporated.  

November 16, 1971:  Kilhefner issues letter to Center supporters advising that in “the past several months” the Center has located a new space and “is in the process of being made operative” even as “many of the Center’s innovative and exciting programs are already in operation.”  

1972

Center applies for non-profit, tax-exempt status at the IRS building in Hollywood (the same building it would purchase almost 20 years later).  IRS denies application and advises Center that it is “neither benevolent nor charitable” because it serves homosexuals.  Denial is appealed.  Center secures the help of a straight attorney with Legal Aid, Ed Dilkes, and appeals the denial (with some pro bono assistance from attorney Alan Gross).  

Center expands to include new adjacent sites on Wilshire Blvd. one for rap groups and social services and one for Sappho House, a women-only residence.

Annual budget is $42,000 and services are provided by all-volunteer staff.

Center establishes the world’s first lesbian clinic staffed by volunteers who are all lesbian medical professionals.

December, 1972: During this month, Center states that it “provided a wide range of free human services directly to nearly 6,000 men and women and dealt with approximately 7,000 individuals through the Center’s 24-hour telephone service.  The following numerical breakdown of service provides an over-view of how the Gay Community Services Center is serving the Los Angeles gay community:

    Self-Development Program: “Rap” Groups........................800
                        Growth Group............................................280
                        Individual Counseling..................................160
    Liberation Houses (Food & Shelter Program)......................200
    Employment Counseling and Placement............................300
    Legal Services: Counseling at Center.................................80
                        Counseling in Arraignment Court.................300
    Youth Program.............................................................160
    Gay Community Dance...............................................1,000
    Prisoner, Probation and Parole Program...........................130
    Transexual Peer Counseling.............................................12
    Gay Law Students..........................................................20
    Alcohol/Drug Abuse Counseling......................................120
    Gay Parents Program......................................................20
    Draft and Military Counseling...........................................30
    Medical Clinic...............................................................400
    Gay Awareness Workshops w/public & private agencies..1,800
                                           TOTAL  5,812
    Incoming telephone calls.............................................6,620
    Gay Hotline/Crisis Intervention Calls................................429
                                           TOTAL  7,049

1973

February Volume One, Issue One of first Center newsletter lists 21 “staff,” most of whom are volunteers.  Board members are listed as:  Sheldon W. Andelson, Betty Berson, M.S. (her name is misspelled in newsletter; it should read Berzon), Newt Deiter, Ph.D., Martin Field, M.D., Morris Kight, John Platania, Mina Robinson and Lee Hansen Sisson.  “Directors Emeritus” are listed as June Herrle, M.S.W. and James L. Kepner.  Don Kilhefner is Executive Director.  

February 18 Grand opening of “The New and Cuter” Funky Shoppe.

In May, working with members of Alcoholics Anonymous, the Center opens Van Ness Recovery House, a 20-bed facility for LGBT people suffering from the debilitating effects of alcoholism and/or drug addiction.  Van Ness Recovery House spins off and becomes an independent nonprofit in 1976.

Funky Gaywill Shoppe, which was never a significant financial success, closes after manager is murdered on premises.

1974

Appeal of IRS decision is successful: Center becomes first openly LGBT organization to receive tax-exempt status, but on the condition that it not “advocate the practice of homosexuality or contend that homosexuality is normal” and that no “avowed homosexuals” would serve on its board.  Center accepts status but does not comply with conditions (which were legally removed a decade later).

Center asks the Los Angeles Police Department to refer troubled youth.  The LAPD refuses, saying: “homosexual behavior is both illegal and immoral and homosexuals are emotionally ill.”

The Center’s first big fundraising dinner raises $60,000.  Gov. Jerry Brown is the keynote speaker and Lily Tomlin hosts the event.

The Center’s budget reaches $1.3 million.

1975

Center moves to what was formerly a motel at 1213 N. Highland Avenue.

Legal counseling begins at the Center one night per week.

Lilene Fifield secures a $1 million federal grant for alcoholism services for women from the National Institute for Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse.  In one of the Center’s most significant internecine battles, fearing that Executive Director Kilhefner will not use all of the money for women’s services, women strike and many leave.  Program later spins off to become a separate nonprofit, Alcoholism Center for Women.

1976

CDC gives high marks to Center’s STD Clinic, which has gained a national reputation for its work.

1977

Don Kilhefner resigns as Executive Director.  In July, Dickson Hingson is hired to succeed him, but steps down seven months later.   

1978

Mayor Tom Bradley ignores criticism and visits Center to meet with gay groups.

1979

Center secures first grant to provide services for LGBT youth $6,000 from Los Angeles County.

Former Colt model Steve Schulte is hired as executive director and focuses on expanding funding sources.  

Steven J. Lachs, long-time Center board member, is appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown as the nation’s (and probably the world’s) first openly gay judge.

October 14  First “National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.”

1980

Board member Rand Schrader is appointed to Municipal Court by Gov. Jerry Brown (the nation’s second openly gay judge).

Name changed to: Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center.

Board member Sheldon Andelson is appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to the University of California Board of Regents; first and only openly gay person ever to hold that position.  

1981

Center has 13 programs and 85 full-time employees.

First “official” report comes out about Gay-Related Immune Deficiency or “GRID,” now known as AIDS.  One of the men featured in the report is a patient of the Center’s venereal disease clinic.

STD Clinic sees up to 70 men each night.

1982

300 Americans have been diagnosed with AIDS.  119 have died.  First Los Angeles AIDS death was a client of Center’s STD Clinic.

At Center, California Congressman Henry Waxman convenes congressional committee hearing on gay cancer to put CDC officials on the record regarding response to the growing crisis.

Center holds emergency community meeting to talk about GRID, sets up hotline to answer questions.  Hotline spins off in1983 to become independent nonprofit AIDS Project Los Angeles.

1983

By March, 1,112 Americans have been diagnosed with AIDS.

Center gains national attention by co-producing “L.A. Cares…Like a Mother,” an AIDS education and prevention ad campaign featuring actress Zelda Rubenstein of Poltergeist fame.

1984

Center opens the first foster home for LGBT youth, which in 1987 spins off into Gay & Lesbian Adolescent Social Services.  

Center Executive Director Steve Schulte steps down to run for West Hollywood City Council.  John Brown becomes Executive Director.

November - City of West Hollywood is founded, elects the first openly-gay/lesbian majority City Council, including former Center Executive Director Schulte.

Center becomes unionized — first LGBT local union in nation.

1985

STD clinic is remodeled and named the “Ed D. Edelman Health Clinic.”   Within a year, it becomes largest HIV clinic in the country.

Center opens first HIV test site in California which quickly becomes nation’s largest.

After public learns Rock Hudson is being treated for AIDS, Center is overwhelmed by people who want to get tested.  Hudson dies this year.

Center forms Computerized AIDS Information Network to share latest medical and treatment information with “first wave” of gay and bisexual men dying of AIDS (in 1993 becomes part of Center’s California AIDS Clearinghouse).

Center opens Citrus House behind its Highland Avenue building, the first transitional living home for LGBT youth.  (In 1992 this residence moves to the Center’s new headquarters—now the McDonald/Wright Building--where it expands to 24 beds and is called the Kruks-Tilsner House.)

Budget is $2.5 million with 58 full time employees and 21 government grants.

October  Gay Community News Collective member Eric Rofes becomes Executive Director after John Brown steps down.

AIDS takes significant toll on staff and board.  Each year, insurance carriers drop Center’s coverage or raise rates to unconscionable levels.  At one point in late 80’s, no carrier will agree to cover Center employees.

1986

U.S. Supreme Court issues notorious decision in “Bowers v. Hardwick,” finding that there is no fundamental right to privacy for homosexual sodomy.  Center sponsors huge public forum: “It’s Our Constitution Too!” featuring national leaders Urvashi Vaid and Tom Stoddard and plaintiff Michael Hardwick.

Lyndon LaRouche’s prop 64 (mandatory testing/AIDS quarantine initiative) is defeated with Center Executive Director Eric Rofes leading opposition.  Center gets bomb threats, bullet holes in windows, threatening letters and phone calls.

1987

Oct. 11
Second “National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights” draws over 1 million marchers.  Out of the March, former Center staff member Phill Wilson helps to found National Black Lesbian & Gay Leadership Forum.

Center’s planned giving program is created with first $1 million commitment from board member Duke Comegys who establishes the Duke Comegys Leadership Endowment Fund.   

1988

Center grows to more than 100 employees.

After Eric Rofes steps down in April, Center Controller Torie Osborn becomes first permanent female executive director.  

October 11 Hundreds of people attend the nation’s largest inaugural National Coming Out Day event, held at Center and featuring a day-long celebration.

Largest civil disobedience event in L.A. history is a demonstration by AIDS activists at Federal Building.  A total of 88 community leaders are arrested, including Executive Director Osborn.

1989

Center begins first capital campaign in history for any LGBT organization and by early ‘90s raises approximately $7 million, paving the way for campaigns by others.  Board member Ed Gould leads campaign with $500,000 donation to help buy and remodel 1625 N. Hudson Street; ironically, the old IRS building.
 
Center budget is $4.4 million dollars, with 30 government grants and dozens of programs.  It’s serving 40,000 clients and providing 240,000 phone referrals each year.  

1990

Center executive Gabe Kruks provides assistance with development of Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, providing federal funds for community-based care and treatment services.  

U.S. Senator Alan Cranston visits Center to talk about Ryan White Healthcare Bill.

County transfers control of West Hollywood HIV clinic to Center.

1991

Center Legal Director Roger Coggan is only gay person to testify before the Christopher Commission on anti-gay violence and the LAPD.

Sept. 29 After Governor Pete Wilson vetoes AB 101--the gay rights bill he had promised to sign--tens of thousands of protestors take over streets of Los Angeles, often led by Center Executive Director Osborn.

Center’s National Coming Out Day activities make headlines when Sheila Kuehl and Actor Dick Sargent come out.

Center ends FY 91 with revenues of $5.8 million; year ends in the red with expenses of $6.2 million.  

Ten years into AIDS epidemic the red ribbon campaign is launched.  206,392 AIDS cases have been reported in the U.S.; 132,233 are dead.

1992

New LAPD Chief Willie Williams visits Center; promises better LAPD attitude toward gays.

October Executive Director Osborn steps down and later briefly serves as executive director of National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

November Center moves into its new headquarters in Hollywood (now known as the McDonald/Wright Building).  

Center’s non-capital revenues are $7.7 million with 150 staff and 4,000 monthly client visits.  

Center ends FY 92 with revenues of $9.1 million (including $1.4 million capital campaign revenues); year ends in the black.  

1993

January
Attorney, activist and Federal Emergency Management Agency executive Lorri L. Jean becomes the new executive director.

April 25 Third “March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation” attracts record-breaking crowds; 1 million by some estimates.  Center leads Los Angeles delegation.

Center opens Jeffrey Goodman Special Care Clinic to expand its free and comprehensive early-intervention HIV/AIDS medical care.

Actress Amanda Bearse comes out at Center’s National Coming Out Day celebration.

Center Executive Director Jean, Director of Development Joel Safranek and fundraising consultant Dan Pallotta work together to conceptualize and develop a new fundraising event, ultimately called the California AIDS Ride.

Center wins state contract to operate California AIDS Clearinghouse, developing and providing culturally-competent HIV prevention education materials statewide.

Center succeeds in securing city approval to rename Hudson Street in honor of long-time Center board member Rand Schrader.  City dubs it “North Schrader Boulevard.”

Center ends FY 93 with revenues of $10.3 million (including $2.8 million capital campaign revenues); year ends in the black.  Center ends year with 173 filled positions.

AIDS is the leading cause of death for young adults in 64 U.S. cities. 399,250 AIDS cases have been reported in the U.S.; 194,334 are dead.

1994

Center’s Audre Lorde Lesbian Health Clinic opens and serves more than 350 clients in its first year.

First California AIDS Ride raises over $1 million for the Center’s HIV/AIDS services with the support of 500 riders.
 
Center starts a Public Policy Department to formalize the local, statewide and national advocacy role it has long played.

Center expands Goodman Clinic to provide the full range of primary and specialty medical care to people at all stages of HIV/AIDS.

Center ends FY 94 with revenues of $12.1 million; year ends in the black.  Center ends year with 195 filled positions.

1995

HIV testing rates at Center rise by 44% following announcement by Greg Louganis that he has HIV.

Center Executive Director Jean co-founds the National Association of Lesbian and Gay Community Centers (name later changed to CenterLink) with leaders of Centers from New York, Minneapolis, Dallas and Denver.

Center opens Pedro Zamora Youth HIV Clinic; first in the nation to specifically serve HIV-infected teenagers and young adults.

Center opens Queer CyberCenter, one of the nation’s first.

HIV disease becomes the leading cause of death of Americans between 25 and 44 years of age.  In June, first protease inhibitor made available outside of ongoing clinical trials.  By the end of the year the annual AIDS death rate drops for the first time since the beginning of the epidemic.

Center influences congressional hearings regarding LGBT student clubs by comparing House Speaker Newt Gingrich to Sen. Joseph McCarthy in full page ads in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times.

Center ends FY 95 with revenues of $14.8 million; year ends in the black.  Center ends year with 195 filled positions.

1996

Center’s Board of Directors approves a new long term strategic plan that includes launching a $15 million capital/endowment campaign and purchase of site that will accommodate anticipated growth.

Center’s Jeff Griffith Youth Center opens at 7051 Santa Monica Blvd.  Lt. Governor Gray Davis presides over the ribbon cutting.

Center co-founds the National Freedom to Marry Coalition.

Center purchases building at 1125 N. McCadden Place in Hollywood and begins planning extensive renovations.

Center opens a specialty medical care clinic adjacent to Century City Hospital to care for people with  advanced staged AIDS.

Center celebrates its 25th Anniversary, unveiling a new logo and a new name:  “L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center.”  Also introduces a PSA and ad campaign featuring pictures of infants and highlighting services that will “be there” if they ever need them.

At sold-out 25th Anniversary Gala, Elton John receives the Center’s Rand Schrader Distinguished Achievement Award from Elizabeth Taylor.

Long time board member Ed Gould dies.  His seven-figure bequest helps to ensure creation of educational and cultural arts facility he long dreamt of, later named in his honor: The Village at Ed Gould Plaza.  

Center ends FY 96 with revenues of $21 million; year ends in the black.  Center ends year with 225 filled positions.

1997

Although Center has served many thousands of seniors throughout its history, this year it formally establishes a Senior Services Department to provide services and programs specifically designed for seniors, including case management.

Executive Director Jean invited to be sole civilian keynote speaker at inauguration ceremony for new Chief of Police Bernard Parks.

AIDS deaths drop 19 percent in the United States.

Center ends FY 97 with revenues of $27.4 million; year ends in the black.  Center ends year with 248 filled positions.

1998

Center opens The Village at Ed Gould Plaza — a $7-million community education and cultural center.  The Village includes nation’s first David Bohnett Cyber Center.

Center creates Lambda Medical Group, incorporating all of its health and mental health services, and opens primary care medical practice in Miracle Mile area.

Center ends FY 98 with revenues of $32.4 million; year ends in the black.  Center ends year with 260 filled positions, 3,000 volunteers and more than 15,000 monthly client visits.    

October Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming teenager, dies after being kidnapped, severely beaten, and tied to a fence in rural Wyoming.  Murder achieves international media visibility, bringing unprecedented attention to hate crimes against LGBT people.

1999

Executive Director Jean steps down in February and later serves two years as executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Gwenn Baldwin is hired as executive director and begins in April.   

Vice President Al Gore visits Center, becoming first sitting Vice-President to visit an LGBT organization.

Cultural Arts Department is created.

Center ends FY 99 with revenues of $28.4 million; year ends in the black.  Center ends year with 254 filled positions.

2000

April 30 Fourth march on Washingtong, dubbed the “Millennium March on Washington”, is organized amidst controversy for alleged lack of inclusiveness and attracts nearly 1 million participants.  Center sends large delegation and former Executive Director Jean is a featured speaker.

Executive Director Baldwin helps lead fight against Prop. 22 (the “Knight Initiative”).  It passes only narrowly in Los Angeles, but statewide with 61% of the vote, amending the Family Code to provide that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”  

Center hosts a reception for gay and lesbian delegates of Democratic National Committee, drawing nearly 1000 participants, including Vermont Governor Howard Dean.

Center creates the Health Education and Prevention Department to centralize its HIV/AIDS and other STD prevention work.

Center ends FY 00 with revenues of $30 million; year ends in the red with expenses of $30.7 million.  Center ends year with 247 filled positions.

2001

Center introduces new mission statement grounded in four key words: Empower, Heal, Advocate, Lead.

First full-time staff person is hired for the Center’s new Family Services program.

After parting ways with California AIDS Ride producer, Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation co-produce cycling event in-house, renaming it AIDS/LifeCyle. Los Angeles participation is a fraction of previous years, resulting in financial disaster for the Center.  Thanks to generous $3M estate, Center ends FY 01 in the black with revenues of $37 million.  Center ends year with 268 filled positions.

2002

Impact of flagging economy on charitable giving and dramatic decrease in revenues from AIDS/LifeCycle result in closure of Lambda Medical Group, elimination of Public Policy department and across-the-board cuts. Village hours are reduced and 60 employees laid off.  

Center ends FY 02 with revenues of $33.1 million; year ends in the red with expenses of $36.8 million.

Second AIDS/LifeCycle is completed. 700 riders raise $4.4 million—mostly by cyclists riding for San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
 
Executive Director Baldwin steps down in May. Center ends year with 241 filled positions.

2003

Financial challenges continue with more layoffs.  

June Recruited by Board of Directors, Lorri L. Jean returns as Center Chief Executive Officer. Fiscal year ends two weeks after her return with revenues of $31.5 million; year ends in the red with expenses of $33 million.  Center staff number 204 (180 full time, 9 part time, 15 relief/on-call).

Center becomes first in California to offer rapid HIV testing, with results in 20 minutes.

2004

“Vote for Equality” project is founded to begin massive voter identification, education and mobilization work to prepare for an anti-same-sex marriage ballot measure.  

Thanks to more than $1 million in Community Redevelopment Agency funds, a comprehensive renovation of the McDonald/Wright Building is undertaken.    

Center, with numerous collaborative partners, produces the Trans-Unity Pride festival, the nation’s only pride festival specifically for transgender people and their friends.

FY 04 revenues are $34.4 million; year ends in the black.  Center ends year with 227 filled positions.

2005

Center makes national headlines with research revealing that of the gay and bisexual men who tested positive for HIV at the Center, nearly 1 in every 3 indicated using crystal meth a three-fold increase from 2001.

After Microsoft withdraws its support for an employment non-discrimination bill in Washington, the Center publicly asks Microsoft to return the Corporate Vision Award it gave the company in 2001.  Under increasing pressure, Microsoft reverses its position and supports the bill.

Long time board member Eric Shore and his partner, Fred Paul, become first living private donors to exceed $1 million in contributions to the Center.  Both are honored at this year’s Anniversary Gala.

To protest Gov. Schwarzenegger’s veto of California’s marriage equality bill, hundreds attend a Center-sponsored rally and march from McDonald/Wright building down Hollywood Blvd. to Schwarzenegger’s star on the walk of fame.

Center Youth Services Department begins GED program at Jeff Griffith Youth Center in spite of “expert” opinion that such a program can never succeed with homeless youth.  Five years later, program is still operating successfully.

FY 05 revenues are $37 million; year ends in the black.  Center ends year with 232 filled positions.

2006

A record 1,000 people attend Center-sponsored Trans-Unity Pride Festival,  making it nation’s largest Transgender Pride celebration.

Center sues IRS over its refusal to release documents, requested under Freedom of Information Act, related to its initial rejection of Center’s application for non-profit status.  Represented by board member Dean Hansell, Center later wins lawsuit, including award of substantial attorney fees from IRS.

Center launches a bold HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in local gay media, proclaiming “HIV is a gay disease.  Own It.  End It.”  The Advocate names this campaign as one of top stories of 2006.

Los Angeles Magazine names Center CEO Lorri L. Jean one of the 100 most influential people in Los Angeles.  She is the only openly LGBT person on list.

The Center’s Young Professionals Council (YPC) is formed to promote support for, and awareness of, the Center’s services among people under the age of 40.

FY 06 revenues are $41.2 million; year ends in the black.  Center ends year with 238 filled positions.

2007

Center creates a new program targeted specifically to transgender clients: Transgender Job Placement Program.

Center sponsors “Tongue to Tongue” conference for LBT women of color at The Village.  More than 300 women attend.

Democratic Candidate for President, John Edwards, becomes first viable Presidential candidate ever (and the only one in the 2008 campaign) to visit an LGBT organization when he tours L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center.

FY 07 revenues are $41.6 million; year ends in the black.  Center ends fiscal year with 265 filled positions.

2008

Center Board of Directors approves a new Long Term Strategic Plan prioritizing program expansion in key areas:  seniors, youth (homeless and non-homeless), policy & community building, multi-generational housing and primary medical care for people without HIV, all within the context of long-term financial sustainability.

To fill a critical need, Center opens six emergency beds in the library of the Transitional Living Program space to help homeless youth qualify more easily for longer-term beds.

Center begins pilot  leadership development program for “Emerging LGBT Leaders” from China.

May 15 In a landmark opinion written by Chief Justice Ron George, California Supreme Court narrowly strikes down state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples.  Legal marriages begin en masse June 17.  Many Center board members (including Co-Chair Loren Ostrow) and five of Center’s eight senior executives (including CEO Jean) legally marry their long-time partners.

Center hosts huge celebratory rally and news conference in West Hollywood that is reported by media around the world.

June Anti-gay right wing forces qualify a ballot measure seeking to amend California constitution to overturn right to marry for same-sex couples.  This later becomes Proposition 8.

FY 08 revenues are $48.5 million; year ends in the black.  Center ends fiscal year with 280 filled positions.

The 2,500 cyclists and 800 roadies in AIDS/LifeCycle 6 make national news, raising HIV/AIDS awareness and a record $13 million.

Economy collapses late in summer with federal bailout of U.S. banking system plunging nation into deepest recession since Great Depression.  Charitable giving nationwide severely impacted.

CEO Jean serves on the Equality For All Campaign executive committee seeking to defeat Proposition 8.  She assists in raising over $43 million; proponents raise nearly $40 million.  Prop 8 campaign is the most expensive campaign in the nation except for the Presidential contest.  

November 4 Proposition 8 passes, devastating the LGBT community in California and worldwide.  Los Angeles county passed Prop 8 by only 2,400 votes (of 3,250,000 cast), and statewide the proposition passed by 600,000 votes (of 13.4 million cast).  Barack Obama elected President of the United States; first African-American to hold post.

November 6 Recognizing that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), at Church direction, provided most of funding for deceitful “Yes on 8” campaign, Center organizes demonstration at Los Angeles Mormon Temple.  Thousands participate, prompting similar demonstrations worldwide.  Demonstrations continue at numerous Los Angeles locations for weeks.

California Supreme Court grants review of legal challenges to Prop 8.

2009

Four additional states legalize marriage for same-sex couples:  New Hampshire, Iowa, Connecticut and Vermont.  The District of Columbia also votes to legalize marriage for same-sex couples.

May 26 In spite of California Attorney General’s argument that Prop 8 violates preeminent clauses of the state Constitution, California Supreme Court upholds Prop 8.

Gay & Lesbian Adolescent Social Services declares bankruptcy and closes its doors.  Responding to request from L.A. County, Center begins providing services to displaced foster youth.

FY 09 Center revenues are $48.4 million; year ends in the black.  Center ends fiscal year with 275 filled positions (after closure of California AIDS Clearinghouse) and welcomes 25,000 client visits monthly.

July Center is granted status as a Federally Qualified Health Center (Look Alike); first organization in nation to be granted FQHC status specifically to serve LGBT community.

LifeWorks Mentoring becomes a Center program, thereby significantly expanding youth programs to serve non-homeless LGBT youth.

Governor Schwarzenegger vetoes $83 million in HIV/AIDS dollars in state budget, decimating most of Center’s HIV prevention programs, including entire California AIDS Clearinghouse which closes after more than 17 years of operation. 

October 11 Fifth “National Equality March” organized with little involvement of established LGBT organizations and amidst ambivalent community support attracts 200,000.  Focusing on financial stability in tough economic climate, Center does not send delegation.

Federal Administration on Aging makes a $1.2 million grant to Center over three years; first federal grant ever given for provision of services to LGBT seniors.

Same forces that ran Proposition 8 campaign run similar campaign in Maine and succeed in overturning marriage there in November.


December
Center launches new transgender medical clinic, one of the first of its kind in the nation.

2010

January Trial begins in Federal lawsuit to overturn Prop 8.  

February
Entering into a partnership with charter school company Opportunities for Learning, Center opens a charter high school at The Village for LGBT youth experiencing challenges in public schoosl.  Here, youth can finish high school and secure their diplomas in a supportive environment.  By the end of the year, 15 students are enrolled.

March In collaboration with Chinese LGBT organization Aibai, Center hires first full-time employee in China, David Li (the first graduate of our international leadership development program, which through 2010 has had a total of 11 graduates).

April The Center, in partnership with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the AIDS Community Action Foundation, launches Rock for Equality with a 700+ person rally and march from the Center’s headquarters to the Hollywood Social Security Administration.  

Event launches effort to pass legislation that will put an end to Social Security discrimination.  Senator Barbara Boxer speaks as do Congresswomen Linda Sanchez, Judy Chu and Laura Richardson.  Sanchez agrees to author the bill which is introduced in the December lame duck session of Congress.  

Center’s Rock for Equality video on social security discrimination, “What Kind of Planet Are We On?” wins YouTube’s “DoGooder Awards” and is featured on YouTube’s homepage, where it is viewed more than 400,000 times.

May Center produces 25th Anniversary staged reading of Larry Kramer’s “The Normal Heart” at Geffen Playhouse.  

May National LGBT Mentoring Project becomes a program of the Center, changing its name to the Leadership LAB (learn act build)

FY 10 revenues are $49.6 million; year ends in the black. Center ends fiscal year with 275 filled positions.

July New scholarship fund is created by board members David Bailey and Ray Mathoda and through our LifeWorks program, $40,000 in college scholarships are awarded to 26 students.

August Center goes “smoke-free” in all outdoor areas of its facilities.

August Kristyna Ciprova, a native of Prague, wins a highly competitive Fulbright-Masaryk Scholarship and is approved for study at the Center, the first Fulbright placement ever at an LGBT organization.  

August
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker rules that the Prop 8 ballot initiative denying marriage rights to same-sex couples is unconstitutional.  Walker found that Prop 8 is "unconstitutional under both the due process and equal protection clauses."   
Two key sentences from the ruling:   “Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same sex couples.”  

He grants an immediate stay of his decision pending appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal.

September Federal Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Administration on Children, Youth and Families awards Center largest federal grant ever to an LGBT organization ($13.3 million over five years) for the development and implementation of a national demonstration project designed to improve the condition of LGBT youth in foster care.

Over the course of three weeks in September, five gay teens in various locations commit suicide, becoming headline news nationwide and resulting in a Presidential response in national “It Gets Better” video campaign.  

Center begins meetings with President of LAUSD School Board, Monica Garcia, and LAUSD officials about development and implementation of plan for ending suicidal ideation among LGBT youth in LAUSD.

October Project 10 asks Center to produce the annual Models of Pride conference for LGBT youth that it had been producing for 17 years.   Adding numerous tracks, including a first time track for parents, a record-breaking 700+ people attend, making it the largest LGBT youth conference in history.

October President Obama signs federal hate crimes bill that makes it a federal crime to assault an individual because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.  The bill is named for Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming teenager who died after being kidnapped and severely beaten in October 1998, and James Byrd Jr., an African-American man dragged to death in Texas the same year.

October Center CEO, Lorri L. Jean and Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings visit Guangzhou and Beijing, China, meeting with LGBT leaders, community members, U.S. government officials, and employee of Chinese Centers for Disease Control and lecturing at several of China’s most prestigious universities to standing room only crowds.  

Jean delivers speech about LGBT equality at U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou (first such speech in history of U.S./Chinese diplomatic relations).  Speech is widely covered in Chinese media.  Jean and Cummings visit three of China’s five LGBT Centers and participate in “sister center” ceremony with Beijing LGBT Center, now run by PoPo Fan, a graduate of the Center’s international leadership development program.

November Democrats lose control of the U.S. House of Representatives but barely retain control of U.S. Senate.  In California, Democrats elected to every statewide constitutional office, including Jerry Brown as Governor.

December 22 President Obama signs lame-duck session repeal of discriminatory Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law that has prohibited openly gay or lesbian people from serving in the military.  Repeal does not go into effect until a future, unspecific date.

2011

April
Center leases 32,000 square-foot facility at 1220 N. Highland Avenue, one block north of The Village at Ed Gould Plaza.  In September, management of Department of Children, Youth & Families leaves McDonald/Wright Building and moves into Highland Annex.  

AIDS/LifeCycle 10, which begins the same day as the 30th anniversary of the first reported cases of AIDS, breaks all fundraising records for both the ALC and its predecessor, the California AIDS Ride, raising $13.3 million.  A total of 2,362 cyclists and 580 roadies participate.

FY 11 revenues are $56.5 million; year ends in the black.  Center ends fiscal year with 304 filled positions.

September Center takes delegation of 14 LGBT subject matter experts to China to provide education and assistance to  LGBT movement there.  More than 60 meetings are held in Beijing and Guangzhou involving more than 1,000 LGBT activists, leaders and allies.  Meetings include groundbreaking transgender community gathering and first ever summit on LGBT people in the Chinese Workplace.

More to come…

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