top of page

A Call to Action

Inspired by the work we do for our community?

Please support us as we launch our

Giving Season campaign celebrating our 50th anniversary

by clicking here.

The Centers in the 70s

(Citation: “Announcement about move to Telegraph Ave,” 1979)

The Pacific Center for Human Growth launched in the early years of the modern LGBTQIA+ rights movement. Originally formed as "East Bay Gay" in 1973 to provide support for those seeking to understand their sexual identity, the organization found a receptive audience in the Bay Area queer community, just as the American Psychiatric Association was removing homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. The Pacific Center filled a critical need, migrating from a co-founder’s living room to a coffeehouse in Oakland to host a “counseling collective” of gay therapists and paraprofessionals providing free counseling to LGBTQIA+ individuals.

In 1974, the group moved to Berkeley — the city where it remains to this day — and rebranded as the Pacific Center for Human Growth to reflect its reach across the Bay Area and the diversity of the community.

“Our services are used by straight people, by people who refuse to label themselves in sexual/emotional terms, and by those who have a confused identity,” explained former Executive Director Richard Boxer in 1974. “In the past, these people have let us know they felt excluded by our name. So we decided to leave out the word ‘gay’.”

(Citation: “Pacific Center Raps,” The Gateway, July 1979, Lou Sullivan Collection, courtesy of the LGBT Center at the San Francisco Public Library.")

From the start, the Pacific Center resolved to be more than a community center providing social activities, events and programs; it would be a bonafide support network and resource hub directly addressing the needs of LGBTQIA+ folx. In addition to providing affordable counseling and a program for runaway youth, the Center established identity-focused support groups, known at the time as “Rap Groups.” The Pacific Center to this day offers a diverse range of peer support groups that you can check out here, along with our youth programs and programming for older adults.

(Citation: Cathy Cade, “SF Lesbian & Gay Freedom Day,” June 25, 1977, Cathy Cade Collection, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley.)

In 1977, the Center marked a milestone as Carole Migden took over as its first female Executive Director. The next year, the Pacific Center became the first LGBTQIA+ organization in the nation to be funded by the United Way — a landmark achievement. In 1979, the Pacific Center moved to a three-story Edwardian house on Telegraph Avenue near UC Berkeley, where it would remain for more than 40 years until its move this past August to 2130 Center Street, Suite 200, in downtown Berkeley. If you are inspired by our work uplifting the LGBTQIA+ community, please support us as we launch our giving season campaign celebrating our 50th anniversary by clicking here.

15 views0 comments


bottom of page