about us » History

Since 1995, Gay City has been providing innovative community-driven programming that is frank, bold and reflective of contemporary LGBTQ culture. From HIV testing, to arts programming, to resource referrals, our wellness programs engage the LGBTQ community on multiple levels. We provide a space for people to be who they are, but we also provide the opportunity for people to interact with other members of the LGBTQ community in ways that may challenge them, and help them become their whole selves. This is why so many people in our community say that Gay City feels like home.

Gay City Timeline


A group of local AIDS educators and community activists forms the MSM (men who have sex with men) HIV/AIDS Prevention Task Force. The group charges itself with assessing AIDS education efforts targeted at gay and bisexual men. Men who have sex with men accounted for 90% of all new infections, but only 20% of locally distributed HIV Prevention funds were targeted toward meeting their needs. Alarmed by this inequity, the Task Force makes independent recommendations to the King County HIV/AIDS Planning Council.


In January, the MSM Task Force presents "Why Are Fags Still Fucking Without Condoms?" This public forum draws over 300 men, who speak of grief, loss, depression, survivor guilt and disconnection from the community. Men express how prevention tactics failed to address their concerns. The community sent a clear message: educators must work harder to reach those most at risk for HIV infection.

The MSM Task Force changes its name to Gay Men's AIDS Prevention Task Force (GayMAP) and holds three more forums in 1994. Attendance grows at each forum and the voices grow stronger. Public Health Officials can no longer ignore the need for new HIV prevention strategies for gay and bisexual men.


Gay City Health Project is founded in April with a grant from Public Health - Seattle & King County. Dedicated to bold, innovative programming, Gay City continues GayMAP's provocative forums and expands to include a variety of groups, workshops and other educational and community events.

Gay City brings people together to work toward creative solutions to common problems. The frustrations expressed in previous forums become an impetus for action and change.

Gay City employs the concept of social marketing to get out its community mobilization and empowerment message. By using business sector marketing strategies, Gay City is able to engage the community like never before.


The Greater Seattle Business Association recognizes Gay City as Non-Profit of the Year.

In April, Gay City starts Queercore, a program for guys under 30 that addresses the unique concerns of being the second generation of gay and bi guys affected by the AIDS epidemic. Queercore begins supporting young men with community forums, film nights, theatre productions, rap groups, games in the park and more.

In July, Gay City makes a presentation at the National Lesbian and Gay Health Conference in downtown Seattle. Health educators are rocked by the program's design and successes, making Gay City the hit of the conference.

Gay City makes waves with it's "Tunnel of Love" forum.


Gay City receives a three-year $500,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to continue and expand its creative programming. By this time, nearly a hundred organizations throughout the world have developed programs based on the Gay City model, making Gay City part of a larger movement of holistic approaches to gay and bi men's health.

In response to combination therapy and the success many were experiencing with new treatment options, Gay City hosts "The End of AIDS: Hope or Hype?"


Gay City makes a major impact with the launch our media campaign "We're All In Bed Together". The campaign seeks to raise awareness and increase community dialogue about our individual and community-wide roles in HIV and STI prevention. Gay City presents the popular community forum "The Great Age Divide", initiating broad conversation about the need for cross-generational dialog.


To better address the concerns and issues of first generation AIDS survivors, Gay City starts the Over 40s Project in collaboration with Seattle AIDS Support Group. The Over 40's Project has since become a model program, initiating meaningful community discussions on sexuality, masculinity, survivor guilt, relationships, and redefining what it means to grow older in a community often focused on youth. Gay City hosts an intense conversation about power, politics and personalities with "Who's Afraid of Elizabeth Birch?"


Gay City Health Project begins branching out from strictly HIV and AIDS issues in 2000. Party Smart is a media campaign designed to address substance use in the community with hard-hitting messages presented in a non-shaming and non-judgmental way. The campaign is later adopted by other groups across the country and heralded as a particularly effective and meaningful way to engage queer men about substance use. Gay City University, which provides opportunities for growth and learning through non-graded courses, wins a "Best of Seattle" Award from Seattle Weekly. Gay City works with Public Health in crafting an innovative Hepatitis vaccine education campaign. A year after "Hepatitis Hurts: Get the Shots" debuted, vaccination rates among gay men in Seattle increased by 64% for Hepatitis A, and by 10% for Hepatitis B. Gay City presents "Pride and Prejudice" to a packed house and initiates an intense conversation about race in the gay community.


King County Tobacco Council presents their Ostrich Award for "getting people's head out of the sand" to Gay City's Out to Quit campaign (a collaboration with Seattle Lesbian Cancer Project). The campaign receives numerous other accolades from queer health groups across the nation. Gay City collaborates with Toys In Babeland in presenting "Suck My Gender", an eye-opening community forum focusing on the complexities of gender and sexuality. We fill Broadway Performance Hall with a capacity crowd of all genders and sexualities. Gay City hires Fred Swanson as our new Executive Director. Fred is one of thirteen Americans invited to participate in the International Thinktank on Gay Men's Health, an international gathering of gay men's health advocates and leaders in 2001-2002. His international experience in health promotion and community organizing sets a new tone for the organization. Gay City presents "Fear My Love," a provocative discussion on HIV Status and Intimacy.


Referring to us as a "heroic local group," Seattle Weekly names Gay City one of Seattle's Dozen Rays of Hope in 2002, a spotlight we shared with groups such as the Children's Alliance and Washington Alliance for Immigrant and Refugee Justice. Seeking to specifically engage men who are not in the Queercore or Over 40's Project demographics, Gay City initiates Crew, an all-ages volunteer group committed to creating community building and health initiatives. Some of the first programming includes Yoga and CookBoys. Gay City collaborates with The Northwest Network in presenting "Domestic Disturbance", a groundbreaking community forum about male-on-male domestic violence. It is the best attended event of its kind in Seattle history.


A new gaycity.org is launched. Gay City brings then Executive Director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Lorri L. Jean to speak on the current and future state of queer activism. Gay City produces ACTION: a handy STI guide for gay, bi & trans men, also making it available online. Emphasizing accessible HIV/STI information, Gay City creates 206-267-STUD, a 24-hour STD info line. Gay City brings over 400 community members and allies together, along with 17 partner organizations, in a series of three public forums about HIV and STD rates among gay and bisexual men in King County. Through these public forums, Gay City facilitates the only widespread community dialogue about community-based solutions. Gay City receives its first research dollars for "The Sex Check," a collaborative project with the UW School of Social Work. Gay City launches a new grassroots media campaign and website - DemandHealth.org


To aggressively address the need for expanded community-based and accessible testing services, Gay City Health Project Wellness Center opens on February 3rd. Gay City begins providing the community access to the latest HIV and STD testing technologies in an inviting and welcoming community space. Opening the Wellness Center triples the availability of community-based HIV and STI testing in Seattle. Connecting the community health workshops, groups and wellness activities we are known for to basic health screenings, Gay City Health Project provides a space where men can invest in their personal health at the same time as building and investing in a strong gay men's community. Gay City hosts "Tweaked: A Community Forum for gay, bi and trans men about the Highs and Lows of Crystal Meth", initiating meaningful dialogue about how crystal meth is impacting our communities. In addition, in partnership with the local Gay Men and Drug Use Workgroup, Gay City publishes "Deconstructing Tina," a resource guide on crystal meth in gay communities. Gay City launches Healthy Penis, a media campaign to get people tested for syphilis.


Gay City significantly expands our ability to serve the needs of gay and bi Latinos through an expanded partnership with Entre Hermanos, Seattle's LGBT Latino organization. Entre Hermanos moves into our offices at Broadway and Pike. Gay City partners with the University of Minnesota on our second research project, "Positive Connections". In partnership with Verbena, Gay City expands our role on the Cross Cultural Health Coalition, working to address health disparities across Washington State. Gay City hosts "The Future of HIV Prevention" initiating meaningful dialogue about where HIV prevention is heading, what questions remain relevant to gay men, and connecting some of the leading behavioral and biomedical researchers directly to community voices. members.


Gay City and Verbena launch the Center for LGBT Health, bringing two well-established, longstanding nonprofit organizations dedicated to LGBT health into one facility. The Center is located at 511 E Pike Street, in the Pike/Pine Corridor. Benefits of the co-location include reduced operating costs, increased visibility within the LGBT communities as well as with the general public, increased opportunity for cross-organization collaborations, and enhanced continuum of services. In addition, in partnership with Kaladi Brothers Coffee, we open a full service coffee house within the space to provide a meeting place for individuals and a perfect home for evening community gatherings.

Gay City launches new logo that includes all three tenants of our mission.

Gay City and Verbena are given the Community Spotlight distinction at the annual HRC dinner in Seattle for our work on the Center for LGBT Health and are awarded the "Apples and Oranges" award for community collaboration at the Fruit Bowl Awards, hosted by the Seattle LGBT Community Center. We are also named Grand Marshall of the Pride Parade.

Gay City expands our outreach testing, providing HIV testing and counseling on a regular basis at Sea-Mar Community Health Center, the Mexican Consulate, Consejo Counseling & Referral, Casa Latina, and at South Seattle Community College.

Gay City launches "Partners for Health," a new annual giving program.

Gay City expands our work on crystal meth in partnership with Project NEON, creating "Speed Sex and Sanity." The innovative program explores the relationship gay men have to crystal meth through the arts, and is recognized for its innovation at the 2007 National LGBTI Health Summit in Philadelphia.


Our tobacco work takes on a new political edge and the new strategy results in improved outcomes, with 75% of participants in our smoking groups remaining smoke free six months after their quit date.

Gay City University moves to a new location, the Northwest School, and we are introduced to a whole new generation of gay and queer young people.

Gay City expands out outreach HIV testing, adding a site at POCAAN, the People of Color Against AIDS Network. In addition, we enter into an exciting collaboration with the Center for Multicultural Health to provide testing to local African Immigrants, a community particularly hard hit by HIV.

Gay City joins with other local activists to host monthly discussions of safety issues on Capitol Hill after a series of gay bashings. We bring nearly 300 concerned community members and business owners together for a forum with the police, local lawmakers and prosecutors.


Gay City launches Gay City TV, an innovative digital media and film project that uses the internet & event-based digital recording to bring ideas and people together. Gay City is part of a SHIFT: A Peer Recovery Network, receiving federal funding to reduce stigma and build connections among LGBT people in recovery and the larger community. The queer anthology GAY CITY: VOLUME ONE provides a creative forum for previously unpublished comic art, fiction, poetry, and photography that serve to promote Gay City's mission. Gay City hosts the National Gay Men's Health Summit in Seattle.


Gay City begins offering Hepatitis A & B Vaccinations to gay and bisexual men GAY CITY: VOLUME TWO is published, expanding on the first collection of comic art, fiction, poetry, and photography. Queerituality is launched, giving gay/bi men an opportunity to read, explore and discuss issues related to spirituality. Gay City becomes home to Seattle's LGBT Resource & Referral telephone line and Queer Library. We sponsor the Seattle SNAP (Sober Now and Proud) - the first softball team in the Emerald City Softball Association for people in recovery. Gay City TV produces four more short films and hundreds of web video clips in its second year.

SHIFT: A Peer Recovery Network offers movie nights, dances, poetry/spoken word performances, and educational workshops for people in recovery. Two of our largest fundraisers, BUMP and the Academy Awards Party, move to new venues and prove to be more successful than ever. Gay City becomes the Washington State contractor for tobacco prevention and control among LGBT people.


Our longstanding Gay City University expands from a once-a-year event to an ongoing monthly series of workshops as GCU Night School.

Gay City TV and Out To Quit collaborate on a new web-based video series to explore the lives and stories of LGBTQ people trying to reduce or eliminate their tobacco use. Gay City begins participation in a research study to explore new rapid HIV testing technologies. Gay City Arts launches to integrate Gay City's arts-based programs and initiatives, creating a more coherent engagement of queer artists' capacity to challenge our self-perceptions and motivate meaningful social change.


Gay City commits to the creation of a new facility to accommodate growth of its programs and services in recent years to expanding constituencies across the LGBT community.

As Presenting Sponsor for Seattle’s PrideFest, Gay City provides systemic support for all vendors to provide tobacco cessation programming for its LGBT employees.

Gay City Arts continues to gain momentum as Gay City mounts the second Seattle production of The Infection Monologues, a theatrical work focused on contemporary GBT men’s experience of HIV.

Gay City facilitates the HIV30 project, bringing together dozens of Seattle organizations to commemorate 30 years of the AIDS epidemic and to re-commit to a collaborative response to the shifting face of HIV.


Queer Arts Advisory Roundtable is convened in February to provide guidance in development of Gay City Arts.

Gay City's new home is complete and services are relocated in July; new facility includes expanded Wellness Center, expanded library, Resource & Referral Center and Calamus Auditorium. Our facility also now houses Ingersoll Gender Center.

The Seattle Resource & Referral Center, housed and staffed by Gay City, expands to include free access computer terminals and volunteer training to support community members in need.

First use of Gay City’s new auditorium space provides a home for Washington United for Marriage; Gay City Arts responds to successful passage of Referendum 74 with multidisciplinary show, "SPEAK NOW!"


Gay City is once again Presenting Sponsor for Seattle’s PrideFest, using the platform to distribute 4,000 Home HIV Test kits and a new Wellness Guide.

Gay City provides fiscal sponsorship to Gender Justice League, producers of Trans*Pride.

Gay City hosts a second community forum on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, and opens Seattle's first PrEP Clinic in the Wellness Center.

The inaugural season of Gay City Arts kicks off in September; eight LGBT artists/artist collectives are slated to present an array of high quality, challenging works across the full range of artistic disciplines between November 2013 and June 2014.