Dear Friend,

Recently, I had the privilege to introduce the documentary How to Survive a Plague at Real Art Ways in Hartford. If you have the chance to see this powerful film, I recommend it. It tells the history of the early years of the AIDS crisis in New York City and the response of ACT UP to let the public know about the apathy on the part of the government and drug manufacturers. It truly illustrated Margaret Mead’s observation:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Such activism is not limited to New York City; Hartford has seen the LGBT community just as engaged for the common good. Indeed, the 1980s saw a wave of activity in Connecticut’s capitol: the first PRIDE celebration in 1982, the push for Gay Rights and in 1983, the founding of the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective.

Today it seems odd that people could not be honest about their health, sexuality and themselves with someone as important as their health care provider. And yet that was the sad truth 30 years ago. It was for this reason that a small group of thoughtful, committed people started the Hartford Gay Health Collective as a safe and affirming place for gay men to obtain diagnosis and treatment for STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) and Hepatitis. The Thursday night clinic originally operated out of Community Health Services on Albany Avenue in Hartford.

We have grown, stumbled, morphed and adapted into the institution that we are today. We have expanded our services to encompass the needs of our LBTQ members. We have answered the call from those with HIV/AIDS. We have provided a haven for our youth. We have partnered with other organizations to provide meeting space, promote
our causes and work for the rights and concerns of LGBT people. Along this thirty year journey we have found our bedrock in our community. You support us and we in turn, do our best for you.

It is for this reason that we appeal to the activist in you to stand up and be counted as a supporter of the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective. The issues that motivated those advocates 3 decades ago are still with us. We are still as passionate and committed now as we were the day we first opened our clinic doors. The anger, optimism
and enthusiasm of those early days still burn strong and knowing that we have your support will keep the flame burning brightly for years to come. Next year, we mark 30 years of dedication to our community. And we look forward to many more years of being a vital part of the Hartford LGBT family.

2013 will be a challenging year for all of us. Please show that the community drive and spirit that help found this agency is still alive and keeping us strong.

Thank you for your support,

Linda Estabrook, MPH –¬†Executive Director