Founded in Denver in 1976, The GLBT Community Center of Colorado (The Center) is one of the nation’s oldest organizations serving gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. It is an outgrowth of the Gay Coalition that formed in 1973 in response to police harassment of gay men.
When The Center was founded nearly 35 years ago, it was named the Gay Community Center of Colorado. Over the years its name has changed to incorporate the diversity of our community.
In the beginning, The Center's main service was to help people come out. They dropped in – often after walking by the building a dozen times to build up the courage. They read books in the library. They volunteered. They started new activities. The Center ran 12 hours a day, six days a week on “coming-out energy.” Donors arrived with cash in hand, fearing to write “gay” on a check.
Phil Nash first served The Center as a volunteer in 1976 and became its first salaried coordinator from 1977 to 1980. The Center's budget for 1978 was about $15,000, and Phil Nash -- the only paid staffer -- made $682.50 a month, plus an allowance for health insurance.
Denver’s first “Gay Pride Parade” was in 1975, when about 200 people marched on city sidewalks to Civic Center Park. No one realized that they needed to get a parade permit. (PrideFest 2010 attracted more than 300,000 people over a two-day weekend in June.)
In the 1980s, The Center was the first organization in Colorado to respond to the AIDS crisis. Due to stigma and fear, people infected with this new and unknown disease were deemed practically untouchable.
What began with a limited food pantry, a part-time case manager and a “buddy” program, would eventually become what is today The Colorado AIDS Project.
After the anti-gay Amendment 2 was passed in Colorado in 1992, The Center created a legal program to fight it in the courts. The Supreme Court eventually ruled that Amendment 2 was unconstitutional in 1996.
In the late 1990s, Rainbow Alley was formed to serve Colorado LGBT and questioning youth.
In 2009, The Center formed SAGE of the Rockies to provide programs, services and resources to LGBT elders.
Also in 2009, The Center purchased its own home for the first time in its history, and renovations began on the former Video One building at 1301 E Colfax in the fall of 2009.
The Center opened the doors of its new facility in July 2010.