Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ Community Center Renamed Pgh Equality Center

Big news in Pittsburgh – the organization we all know as the GLCC or the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh has officially changed its name to the Pittsburgh Equality Center.

“When we looked at rebranding with a new name and logo, we were particularly mindful of the long history and the work of the GLCC and of the dedicated leaders before us who fought to be able to use words like ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ in the title.” said Gary Janchenko, the Chair of the Board of Directors at the PGH Equality Center. “We struggled with the potential for hurt feelings by removing those references but as the LGBTQIA+ community has evolved and become more visible, we clearly realized that having only the gay and lesbian references in our name was not inclusive to the rich diversity of our community. We knew we had to change and we felt that the timing was right given the political and activist climates as well as an emerging trend of similar rebranding efforts by centers across the country.”

I have mixed feelings about this. Rather, I can see two sides. There is simply no way to select  identities to include that might not be dated or excluding within a few years. Renaming it as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Center does still leave folks out. Using a tagline like “the region’s LGBTQIA+ community center” allows for the growth and expansion of identity.

On the other hand, ‘equality center’ is pretty generic. It could be anything. It could be intersectional, it could be a broadstroke to avoid being pigeonholed.

I’m glad to see the organization refreshing to be more relevant and responsive in 2017. This is important.

Are you familiar with the history of the community center? In 2010, the late Peter Mastracci compiled a brief history of the organization which traces its roots back to the mid-1970s. Peter’s piece focuses mainly on the geographic locations of the organization, but there are many other significant historical elements. These include:

  • Establishing the first (and longest running) LGBTQ youth programming via Friday Night Drop-Ins which were started in Squirrel Hill in 1996. Friday nights are still going strong 20+ years later.
  • Helping to launch numerous organizations including the Pitt Men’s Study, TransPitt, TransPride Pittsburgh, Bi Pgh, and SisTers PGH.
  • Establishing the Jim Fischerkeller Library which is currently the 3rd oldest LGBTQ library in the United States and remains open to the public.
  • Mayor Peduto took an HIV test and filmed a brief PSA for National Get Tested Day at the GLCC, one of the first mayors to do so across the nation.
  • OUTrageous Bingo celebrates 20 years of support (December) for the Pgh Equality Center and Shepherd Wellness Community, one of the longest running fundraisers in the region.

To learn more, follow the Pgh Equality Center on Facebook.  I really, really think you should do this as a show of support and investment in the regional LGBTQ community.

  • I don’t like it. It disappears us. Its the same old argument that says, to address our unique needs and circumstances is to demand “special rights.” Then they say that our needs are met by X, Y, and Z. and to shut up. There are a ton of agencies that address inequality for specific populations, we have a right to ours. The GLCC did a great job to address the huge needs of the youth of our community, adults not so much, cis-lesbians barely. My support will be applied elsewhere; thanks for finally making it crystal clear, find community elsewhere cause there is none for you here.

    • As the co-chair of the PHGH Equality Center, I can assure you that we chose this title after considerable research and thoughtful discussion (yes…sometimes heated). We were being criticized for not reflecting other sections of our community in our title. But we can’t keep up, as others have found, with the ever expanding alphabet of sections. In doing the search of what the rest of the larger cities in the US are doing, I found that they are either going with the words “equality center” or naming it after someone who made a considerable endowment or being honored for their service to the organization. I would sincerely ask that you talk with us before you walk away. As with our name change, the Center has made monumental changes in programming and services. We are growing and members of the LGBTQIA+ and the “straight” communities are taking notice! We are dedicated to doing things right but realize that we cannot be everything to everyone. I am inviting you to let us know your particular needs are and to have you join us in conversation about those things that you feel are important to you! Rick Allison…

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