From its genesis in the early 1990's to its current incarnation, the Center has been supported by many dedicated members of our community. We have changed locations and even our name since our inception but remain true to the sparks which first generated the idea for a welcoming place for New Haven's gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, questioning, queer community!
In 1993, a group of gay activists attempted to get domestic partnership approved by the New Haven Board of Aldermen. Similar to Hartford's legislation, this would have allowed same-sex couples to symbolically register their relationships in a public forum. In part because there was no central physical location for people to organize and display literature, such political change was hard to enact. In response, John Allen (a former president and current board member) conducted a needs assessment as part of his graduate thesis at Southern Connecticut State University. The survey revealed a vibrant regional gay culture of at least 40 gay and gay friendly groups in the New Haven area with combined memberships of 1,700 and annual budgets totalling $2.3 million (combined).
On May 27, 1996, the Center was officially incorporated. Committees were formed - the work began. New Haven Mayor John DeStefano was instrumental in finding us a place that we could call home. Many groups began planning the move of their meetings, previously held in ad hoc locations, to the offices of the Center. And many new groups, sharing in the momentum, formed.
On November 17, 1996 our Center officially opened! We moved into our first location, on Long Wharf, made some adjustments, and hung out our shingle. It was with our fabulous(!!!) party on Valentine's Day 1997 that the Center held its first open house for the community to see what we had achieved. We had a place where our entire community was able to gather and attend various programs, just hang out, make use of our extensive LGBTQIA library, or attend the wonderful movie nights (and those are just some of our more popular attractions!).
After 13 years, in 2009, the Center decided to relocate from its longtime home on Fitch Street in New Haven, to 14 Gilbert St. in West Haven (right over the New Haven line!). On Gilbert Street, we found an affordable, centrally located space that gave us a little wiggle room on rent, so that we could take up the next chapter for the Center. We also changed our name from The New Haven Gay and Lesbian Community Center to the New Haven Pride Center in order to recognize the diversity of our community. The Center then took its next steps in the fall of 2013, relocating back to downtown New Haven, to its current home at 84 Orange St.
What's easy to see from your first visit to the Center is that it fills a real need in the community. The physical space is welcoming and has a plethora of LGBTQIA images and resources to make you feel at home. The Center is a hub of activity catering to the needs of Connecticut's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The success of the Center lays both in its significant accomplishments and our vision for the future. It has becoming a beacon for those looking to understand their identity and place within the community and in history, and a space to form bonds and move forward in strength in the New Haven community and beyond.
We honor the members who contributed to, and supported the founding of the New Haven Gay and Lesbian Community Center - now the New Haven Pride Center - via their financial contributions, guidance and leadership:
John D. Allen & Keith Hyatte
Linda L. Anderson
George A. Appleby & Paul N. Kuehn
Tim Bertaccini & Roy Brown
Lea Dickson & Shari Barnhart
Rev. Alexander R. Garbera
Jane W. Griffith Esq. & Patrica Sabosik
Cynthia Hobbs & Jennie Merovick
Anthony J. LaCava & Cliff Morgan
Victoria McEvoy & Alison Farrell
Dennis Mesenhimer & Michael Williams
Jeannette R. Miles & Johanna Vega-Hall
Joan Murphy & Theresa Rieger
Charles A. Porter
Leonardo H. Suzio
Easter Seals Goodwill Industries Rehabilitation Center, Inc.
Bridges & Brown Enterprises
Matthews Ventures, LLC.