The LOFT History

In the early 1980’s, the Lesbian Task Force of Southern Westchester NOW and the Gay Men’s Alliance of the Hudson Valley joined forces to create a safe space to meet.  In a large, open space located above a grocery store on what was then known as Grove Street in White Plains, NY (now Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard), with WESPAC located across the hall, our center was born in 1983.  Since it was an actual loft space, to be discreet, our organization was simply named The LOFT.  These are the brave men and women who created Westchester County’s first and only LGBT center, The LOFT Founders (in alphabetical order):  Jenny Cummings, Robert Knight, Peter LoMonte, Phyllis Lynch, Frank Santoliquido, Susan Turner, and Mitchell Visoky.  We will always be thankful to these early trailblazers, and to the many people since (and still to come) who have contributed to the success and growth of The LOFT. 

The 1990’s was a decade of expansion and transformation for The LOFT.  In 1993, the center incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, charitable organization bearing the official name The LOFT: The Lesbian & Gay Community Services Center, Inc.  Programs and services were steadily developing, a woman was elected LOFT Board President for the first time, and an Executive Director was hired.  Recognizing that we all share a common cause, the lesbian and gay community forged a bond with the bisexual and transgender communities, and together we became one—The LGBT Community.  The LOFT also funded an entirely volunteer-driven public access television show named Forward & Out featuring topics of interest and concern to the LGBT community.  The 49 episodes that were produced and aired from 1993-1997 are a valuable resource for all who wish to learn the history of the LGBT community in Westchester County and the region, including New York City, before and during the early-mid 90’s.  The images and logo below (left to right) link to: a 17-minute sample reel, the very first episode all about The LOFT and its history, and the entire catalog of Forward & Out shows.

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The new millennium has brought great momentum for LGBT rights, culminating in June of 2015 with the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing Marriage Equality throughout the country.  This great success only fuels The LOFT's determination to reach greater heights by fiercely advocating for the LGBT rights still not gained, especially for our transgender community.  Our center continues to meet the changing needs of our community with constantly updating and adding new programming.  LOFT Pride celebrations each June get bigger and better every year, as do our Annual Galas every fall.  We are a strong and proud community, and no matter the climate du jour, we will always move forward and continue to rise in Pride!