PGH Equality Center’s History (1979-Present)
In 1979, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center Inc. began as a help line in conjunction with Persad, a local mental health organization that served the needs of the LGBTQIA+ community. For a time, the help line functioned out of people’s homes until it found its first home in an office donated by the Pittsburgh Free Clinic.
On April 11, 1981, the GLCC opened to the community on Oakland Ave. In 1984, the GLCC became an independent non-profit that was separate from Persad. In the early days of the GLCC they formed a youth program, TransPitt, and the first town meeting to discuss HIV/AIDS. They also supported the development of the Pitt Men’s Study.
In 1985 the GLCC lost its lease in Oakland and moved to Wilkinsburg on short notice. Due to the Center not being in a central space, the organization declined but was able to keep its phone line operating for most of the time. When they moved out of the Wilkinsburg space in 1990, they moved into the back of the St. Elmo’s Bookstore rent free.
In 1991, the GLCC tried to rent a space in Squirrel Hill and was denied due to the fear of AIDS being spread. The Center filed a complaint with the Pittsburgh Human Rights Commission and won the case. Unfortunately, the energy of the organization and resources were drained due this and many other problems they faced in recent years.
1992 saw the GLCC in a one room apartment on Forward Ave. in Squirrel Hill due to the help of the Pitt Men’s Collective. Due to expansion of the Squirrel Hill theater, they moved up the street to an office space that the landlord was renting out as well. They held an open house to show off the new space as part of Pride that year.
At the turn of the century, the GLCC saw a rise of needs for the community and decided to rent out two additional office spaces adjacent to the current space they were renting out. In 2006, the GLCC handed over Pride to the Delta Foundation.
The GLCC recognized that a time of significant change was coming and changed its name to the PGH Equality Center in 2017. In 2019, when their lease was up at the Grant St building they moved to a smaller office space on Ellsworth Ave.
Since 2019 the PGH Equality Center has re-evaluated its mission, vision, and place in the LGBTQIA+ community. The PGH Equality Center decided to conduct a community survey that was sent out to the LGBTQIA+ community in March 2020. Through this survey and meetings with CenterLink, the national network of LGBTQIA+ community centers, the PGH Equality Center has made significant changes.
With the Community Survey and CenterLink meetings in mind, the PGH Equality Center has put forth a new Mission and Vision, a significantly different social media presence, new ways of engaging the LGBTQIA+ community in an era of COVID-19, and partnerships with a number of LGBTQIA+ organizations.
Mission: We serve as a bridge that promotes education, advocacy, and social justice for all LGBTQIA+ people and allies in Western Pennsylvania.
Vision: To cultivate a more collaborative, diverse, just, and empowered community.