ORGANIZATION | Inducted 1992
A progenitor of The Center on Halsted, and established in 1973, Horizons Community Services, served as the Midwest’s largest and most comprehensive social service agency meeting the needs of Chicago’s diverse gay and lesbian community.
Nearly 20 years ago a handful of concerned lesbians and gay men in Chicago organized a telephone hotline to provide information and support for those in need. This volunteer effort marked the beginning of was then called Gay Horizons, the only gay and lesbian social service agency in the Midwest to receive full membership in the United Way of Chicago.
For more than two decades, Horizons’ mission of outreach to the gay and lesbian community led to the creation of several programs, all of which continue to grow. These programs include youth services, legal, group and psychotherapy services as well as a speakers’ bureau and a series of Identity Conferences.
In 1985, with the support of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, the Horizons Anti-Violence Project was established. It was the first gay and lesbian anti-violence project in the country to be funded by the Federal government. In 1991, over 340 survivors of hate crimes, domestic violence, and anti-lesbian and gay violence were served.
In 1987 the State of Illinois accepted Horizons’ proposal for the State-wide AIDS Hotline (1-800-AIDS-AIDS) which has received more than 50,000 calls each year from all segments of the community. It was then the primary source of information regarding HIV disease and AIDS available throughout the State of Illinois.
The programs provided low-or no-cost support services for lesbians and gay men throughout the metropolitan area of Chicago. Together, Horizons’ clients created a mosaic of ethnic, gender and socioeconomic diversity. They came seeking assistance and counsel on issues ranging from sexual identification to learning about intimacy and relationships.
Horizons’ programs changed over many years in service, but the ceaseless energy and tireless commitment of its volunteers did not. More than 350 volunteers, along with a dedicated staff and board of directors, developed and operated the programs, estimated to have served over 220,00 callers and clients.
Horizons Community Services was committed to providing the gay and lesbian community of Chicago with social services that support the development of healthy and integrated lives, and through education and outreach, confront homophobia and its effects.