Lesbian & Gay Health Project - Bridging Healthcare and Community Organizing
The Durham Lesbian and Gay Health Project (LGHP) was founded in 1982 “to openly and affirmatively promote individual and community well-being of gay men and lesbians…” Founders David Jolly, Carl Wittman, Timer McBride, and Aida Wakil wanted to connect gay men and lesbians with gay-friendly physicians and more information about their health needs, given that the HIV/AIDS crisis was looming, revealing deep homophobia in the healthcare system.
The group served the Durham community through referrals, educational programs and direct support. As the AIDS crisis deepened, the organization grew, transitioning from a volunteer-run group to a non-profit staffed by directors Jill Duvall and Scott Hustead. The project primarily supported white gay men, providing services for those affected by HIV/AIDS. The Project created a network of support formed in response to public stigma surrounding the AIDS crisis. To support additional community members the LGHP organized a Lesbian Health Clinic but this effort never received as much attention.
The organization struggled, despite paid staff to sustain their fundraising and grant writing efforts and experienced a number of internal leadership struggles. The LGHP was also criticized by the African American community for not doing a good job serving the needs of people of color. LGHP lost its momentum and closed in 1996 in part because it was unable to address these racial, gender, and class divides.
However, through the LGHP and other community-based projects, the organizing capacity of LGBT people grew as they mobilized to support each other and build their political power.
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