The seeds of change in New Haven were planted during the fall of 1993. A group of gay activists attempted to get domestic partnership approved by the Board of Aldermen. Similar to Hartford's legislation, this would have allowed same-sex couples to symbolically register their relationships in a public forum.
Not surprising, there was a problem securing legislation important to the gay community, in part because there was no central physical location for gay people to organize and display literature. In response, John Allen conducted a needs assessment for the regional gay community 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 with combined memberships of 1,700 and combined annual budgets of $2.3 million.
On May 27, 1996, the center was officially incorporated. Committees were formed - the work began. Mayor John DeStefano was instrumental in finding us a place that we could call home. On November 17, 1996 our center had officially opened, but it was with our fabulous party on Valentine's Day 1997 that our center really started to fly. We had a place where our entire community was able to gather and attend various programs, or just come to hang out, to browse our library or attend the wonderful movie nights (and those are just some of our more popular attractions!). After 13 years, the Center made the decision to relocate to 14 Gilbert St. in West Haven, finding a new home for the organization while still maintaining a place where the community can gather.
What's easy to see from your first visit to the Center is that it fills a real need in the community. Every night, the Center is a hub of activity catering to the needs of south-central Connecticut's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Many groups moved their meetings to the offices of the Center and many new ones formed. The success of the Center lays not so much in the significant accomplishments of its short history, but rather, in our vision for the future.
In May of 2011, the Center will celebrate its 15th anniversary, and it's safe to say that our future is now. We have realized our dream of becoming a long-lasting, trusted, venerable institution. We truly hope to continue to serve as a beacon for those struggling to understand their identity, and a place to form bonds and move forward in strength. We hope that you will be a part of our next chapter.