Purpose and History

Center on Halsted's Youth Program, originally known as Gay Horizons, was founded in 1978 by fewer than ten young people. Today, we help more than 1,600 young people across Chicagoland to realize their full potential through our vocational training programs, seminars and leadership development programs. In addition, we directly serve more than 300 LGBTQ and Allied youth as part of our comprehensive onsite youth programs.

Our Youth Program creates a safe and confidential environment for young people ages 13–24 who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, who are questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity, or who are straight allies (LGBTQA). Youth programming at Center on Halsted offers a nurturing and supportive environment where youth and young adults can thrive. With a variety of programs and services, from cultural and event programming to case management and leadership development, we are committed to supporting LGBTQ youth and young adults in a holistic manner.

We value the contributions that talented, capable, and conscientious youth offer in identifying and shaping the services they most need. We have a diverse and experienced staff with backgrounds in social work, HIV/AIDS prevention, art therapy, youth leadership, education, group facilitation, and counseling; and who are responsive to the goals and aspirations of our youth. Additionally, we are aware that our patrons have a range of needs and concerns—including but not limited to coming out, identity management, sexual health education, stable housing, and employment—we aim to sustain programming that sees our youth as assets. We have an expectation of excellence for all youth at Center on Halsted and we offer programs that provide a roadmap to a successful future.

How to Become a Member!

As a youth program member, you will be able to participate in youth programming and special events at Center on Halsted. It's easy to become a member. You can call us at 77.472.6469 EXT 469. Email us at Or just stop by Center on Halsted and ask to speak to someone from the youth program. Below are some of the programs and services available exclusively to Center on Halsted youth.

Programs and Services

Youth Programming at Center on Halsted is Monday–Thursday from 4:30–6:30 p.m. On Fridays we have Your Gym: Basketball, Volleyball, Dodgeball from 4:00–6:00 p.m. Youth intakes are available by appointment, generally between 1:00–6:00 p.m.

Arts and Culture

  • Hip-Hop Lyricism
    “Wordplay with a purpose…” This workshop connects social justice themes like racism, classism, poverty, gender and discrimination to the distinctly American form of creative expressionism known as Hip-Hop.

  • About-Face Theatre Presents: Theatre-Activism Workshops
    "Undocumented in the Queer Community." In these workshops we develop and share stories, build community, create characters, interview members of our communities and meet with queer activists, directors, choreographers, drag performers and musicians.

  • Drama Mamas
    To be or not to be? That is the question. Through a variety of games, exercises and discussions, we immerse ourselves in the world of theatre.

Critical Thinking and Education

  • Let’s Get Deep: Philosophy 101
    Offers an opportunity to consider some of life’s big questions from a philosophical perspective. We connect concepts like existentialism to questions around “being in community” as LGBTQ youth and young adults.

  • Xing: Crossing Borders, Desires & Chicago Streets
    A writing-for-performance workshop held on Saturdays and brought to Center on Halsted by DePaul, Lambda Legal and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Leadership and Activism

  • Stand Out
    Through leadership and community-building activities, this program empowers students (ages 15–20) involved in high school and college-level Gay Straight Alliances to create positive change in the larger community.

  • Youth Service Corps
    Affectionately known as VolunQUEERS, this program provides an opportunity for young people to volunteer in their communities.

  • Youth Leadership Council
    Through encouraging youth leadership development, YLC enables youth and young adults in our program to have a critical voice that informs many decisions about programming. There is an application process to be a part of YLC, so interested individuals should speak to a staff member about getting involved.

Recreation and Sports

  • Your Gym
    For young individuals who are interested in flexing their athleticism and fitness join us every Friday for Basketball, Volleyball, Dodgeball & other fun activities to get their heart-rate pumping!

  • HULA Hoop Club
    Ana Hoops and America’s Hula Hoop Revival put together a fun workout program for LGBTQ youth and allies.

Vocation and Professional Development

  • Youth Speak Out (An After School Matters Youth Apprenticeship)
    In this year-round Performance Art and Creative Writing internship, youth ages 14–20 earn a stipend while formulating, writing, practicing and performing spoken word as they learn the elements and techniques from some of the best performance artists and poets in the community.

  • GED Programming
    The GED program is a collaboration between Center on Halsted and Truman Community College, and aims to help LGBTQ individuals of any age complete 8 weeks of community learning in order to prepare for and pass their GED examinations.

Sexual Health and Identity

  • OVAH! (Our Voices Advocating Health)
    OVAH! is an HIV prevention intervention that aims to engage young gay and bisexual men ages 18–24 to talk about substance abuse and its relationship to high-risk sexual behavior.

  • Youth Name It! Coming Out Group
    A safe and supportive environment for a LGBTQ youth ages 13–18 to help build healthy self-awareness and personal identity through various community resources.

  • StART: Art Therapy Group
    A weekly therapy group which provides a safe space for LGBTQ youth to use art and the creative process to advance personal identity, self-expression, healing and growth.

  • Prodigies of Pride
    A group for African-American and Latino gay and bisexual men ages 16–24 coming together to advance community and end the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Contact Us

We want to hear from you. If you have questions about our program or would like to become a Center on Halsted youth member, please email  


Copyright © Center on Halsted3656 N. Halsted Street  |  Chicago, IL 60613  |  773.472.6469