Though Center on Halsted's building opened in 2007, our history actually goes back much farther when we were known as Horizons Community Services, the Midwest's largest LGBTQ social service agency. Center on Halsted is proud of our legacy of advocacy, support and educational services. The same services that helped form the core of Center on Halsted's programming.

Gay Horizons begins as a volunteer-run information clearinghouse and a meeting place for gays and lesbians. The HELPLINE is the first program of Gay Horizons established for people to access information and referrals for social, professional, recreational, and medical purposes. Gay Horizons inaugurates its youth coffeehouse at Liberty Hall on Lincoln Avenue.

Some volunteers, who are gay medical students and serve clients through the Horizons Clinic, form an organization to provide medical services to the LGBTQ community. This clinic is organized for the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (the clinic later separates and becomes Howard Brown). Gay Horizons becomes incorporated [501(c) 3 status is granted]. Gay Horizons moves into the Beckman House and takes up operation of the "Gay Switchboard.'

Gay Horizons moves to 2745 N. Clark, above the Astro restaurant. The agency at this time has a drop-in center.

Gay Horizons begins to shift from its initial focus on social activities to providing mental health and social services to those most in need. A peer counseling program begins: Gay People's Counseling Service.(This program is Horizons' second formal program and later evolves into Educational & Support Services.) Gay Horizons' Executive Board votes to allow the Howard Brown Clinic to become a separate organization. A Youth Program is formally adopted. (This program later separates from Horizons and the agency's Youth Services program grows from these first meetings).

Gay Horizons moves to a one-room basement space on Oakdale.

Gay Horizons' first Youth Group meets—a group of fewer than ten—mostly Caucasian and two African American middle- and working class teenagers, and their lone advisor—a mental health professional who volunteered his services as program coordinator. These first members are mostly just out of high school—18 to 22 years old. (Later a policy is implemented that only youth between the ages of 14 and 20 may join; currently the ages of participation are 13 to 24.) Gay Horizons forms the Women's Union as part of a campaign to reach more women. At the same time, the "Gay Switchboard" becomes the "Gay and Lesbian Switchboard." Groups for bisexual men as well as a "growth group for womyn" are initiated. The precursor to the Speakers Service is started as part of the Gay Peoples' Counseling Service.

Horizons Youth Program officially begins. Gay Horizons holds the first "Identity Conference," beginning a tradition that continues for several years. Horizons moves to a new location at 3225 N. Sheffield, which subsequently becomes the home of the Rodde Center. A research center and library are included (the Gerber/Hart collection's first home). Horizons begins renting space from a branch of Hull House at 3212 N. Broadway; a community outreach program and a coffeehouse are planned for this "Horizons East" venture. Legal Services Program begins, ensuring availability of legal advice to LGBTQ people regardless of their ability to pay.

Continue to the 1980's

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