Individual | Inducted 2023
Joseph Loundy was among the first mental health professionals to be involved with the Gay People’s Peer Counseling Service at Gay Horizons, around 1974. He started as a supervisor and eventually became co-director of the only gay-identified-and-affirming counseling program in Chicago. In 1977 Loundy was elected Chairperson of Gay Horizons. At that point, the agency was operating out of a basement room. His expertise and leadership quickly grew the operation and by 1979 Gay Horizons was sharing space with the Counseling Center of Lakeview, on Sheffield near Belmont. In this larger location, Loundy started several programs, many of which continue to this day, including Professional Counseling Services, Youth Group, Legal Services, and Group Services – including “Coming Out” Groups that became one of the most requested services.
Among the programs offered by Gay Horizons during his tenure, aside from the original hotline (929-HELP), were a Gay & Lesbian Speakers Service and Horizons East, a Saturday night coffeehouse alternative to the bars. Loundy’s interest in GLBT social services nationwide led him to bring two programs to Chicago: “Developing A Positive Gay Identity Conferences” by the Whitman Brooks Foundation, and, with Chuck Whitman, Lavender University – a platform for people in our community to share their skills and expertise.
As Loundy led Gay Horizons’ growth, it took over all the space in the front building on Sheffield and became a major tenant when the Frank M. Rodde Memorial Fund bought the building. As the most visible and one of the largest LGBT groups in Chicago, Gay Horizons assumed the role of a community center. Under Loundy’s outreach, it was the temporary home for the Gerber/Hart Library and offered space to groups such as the Lambda Resource Center for the Blind and the Gay Parents Group (which later became a program of Gay Horizons). By 1989 Loundy had shepherded the organization to the point where it attained full membership in the United Way as the only gay/lesbian agency granted membership in Illinois, and one of five in the United States at that time.
Joe Loundy was the leading force for Gay Horizons to grow into one of the largest LGBT social service agencies in the country and was responsible for it growing into Horizons Community Services and, eventually, the Center on Halsted.
Additionally, Joe Loundy was a volunteer with the Gay Professional Coalition of Chicago, and in 2008 Roosevelt University established the Joseph Loundy Human Rights Project. This program is unique in the US and gives students once-in-a-lifetime experiences and opportunities to look at human rights worldwide.