The LGBTQ Center of Southern Nevada, a community-based organization, supports and promotes activities directed at furthering the well-being, positive image, and human rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual, two-spirit, and queer community, its allies, and low to moderate income residents in Southern Nevada.
The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada, a 501(c)(3) organization, was founded in the summer of 1992 through efforts inspired by the Friday Night Men’s Rap Group at Community Counseling Center. For several months the Center’s Board of Directors met in a small room at Community Counseling Center, but in June 1993 the Center bought a small former dental office at 912 E. Sahara Ave. Not only was this the Center’s first independent home, but it was the first safe public space in Las Vegas for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer people. That year, the Nevada legislature repealed the state’s sodomy law and the Las Vegas gay community rallied to celebrate and dedicate its new Center on October 15, 1993.
Within a few months of opening, the Center offered the community a host of services and programs. It provided free HIV testing; office space for the Nevada Gay Rodeo Association, the NAMES Project, LAMBDA Business Association, PFLAG, Delta Lambda Phi, Senior Action Gay Environment; and meeting space for groups in support of lesbians, gay youth, gay and lesbian parents, Hispanics, gay seniors, transgender people—even a gay science fiction club. In January 1994, the Center sponsored the first annual Man and Woman of the Year Awards, known today as the Honorarium.
By 2001, however, the Center had outgrown its small space and in February 2002 it moved across Sahara Avenue into a 6,000 square-foot storefront in Commercial Center. A ribbon-cutting and dedication was held on October 11, 2002, in association with the city’s National Coming Out Day celebrations. With its membership and community programs growing rapidly the Center in June 2006 moved into a larger space nearby. This expansion included a computer lab, two large meeting/game rooms, a comfortable community room, and Las Vegas’ first LGBTQ library.
In 2007, faced with more and more demands on its mission from Las Vegas’ burgeoning queer community, the Center embarked on a five-year strategic plan to once again purchase its own building and to increase the scope and quality of its programs and outreach. By 2012 the Center surpassed its fundraising goal and bought the free-standing building at 401 S. Maryland Pkwy. After a $4 million dollar renovation, the Center hosted its grand opening on April 6, 2013. Named for Las Vegas businessman and community philanthropist Robert “Bob” Forbuss, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada offers state-of-the-art meeting, convention, and performance spaces, the David Parks LGBTQ library, and an enhanced computer lab. The Center significantly increased its programming and outreach and in 2015 was named by Vegas Seven magazine as the Best Full-Service Community Center in Southern Nevada.
Like Las Vegas, the Center is constantly growing and will continue serving the Southern Nevada LGBTQ community with professionalism, dedication, and compassion.